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A landlord plays hide and seek with his tenant to whom he owes $16,000

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Lisa Lum still hopes to find the owner.

  • Cédric Lizotte (View profile)Cédric Lizotte

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Two years after filing a complaint with the Ontario Housing Tribunal, Lisa Lum finally won her case: an arbitrator ordered the owner of her previous home to pay her $16,000.

He still hasn't paid him a penny.

Worse, she says: her owner is playing hide and seek. He doesn't respond to her emails and she doesn't know where he lives.

A paralegal even suggested she hire a private investigator.

Every day that passes without me receiving a response [from the owner] has a negative impact [on me], explains Ms. Lum.

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However, the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board (CLI), which is facing serious delays in processing complaints, cannot force the owner in question to respect the decision of its arbitrator.

Ms. Lum had been renting the main floor of a house on Lincoln Road in Windsor, Ontario, for approximately eight years when the property was sold in 2021.

Shortly after the sale, the new owner gives him an N12, a notice of termination of the tenancy because the landlord, a buyer or a family member wants to occupy the rental accommodation. She is offered to move to the accommodation on the upper floor, which she accepts.

A few months later, the landlord gave her another N12.

Mrs. Lum leaves the house for good. A few weeks later, it went on sale.

In September 2022, Ms Lum filed an application with the CLI, alleging that the landlord had acted in bad faith. The case will be heard in January 2024.

The arbitrator issued his decision on February 7: Ms. Lum was evicted twice in bad faith by her landlord. As a result, the owner owes $5,000 in administrative fees to the CLI and $16,680 to Ms. Lum.

The owner had until February 18 to pay, otherwise interest would be added to the amount owed.

When Ms Lum notices that the payment is late, she contacts the CLI. She is told, she says, that the CLI is not able to force owners to respect its decisions. If she wants to recover what she owes, she must go to small claims court. And to do this, she needs the address of the offending owner, which she doesn't have.

And she is not the only one to find herself in such a situation. Between January 1, 2020 and September 30, 2023, the CLI issued 13 fines to landlords for bad faith evictions, and as of November 2023, only a handful had paid what they paid. they had to.

I didn't expect this at all, Ms. Lum said. She said the procedure left her feeling defeated, disappointed and angry.

They block us, they block us everywhere.< /p>A quote from Lisa Lum

CBC contacted the owner by email, but n&#x27 ;did not receive a response.

Only consequence for the offending owner: he no longer has access to the CLI.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords who do not pay fines, including for bad faith evictions, cannot file new applications with the commission, for example to resolve other disputes, until they ;have not paid.

Cathy Corsetti, a paralegal, is Ms. Lum's advisor. She says she is satisfied with the CLI's decision. She knew, however, that recovery could prove difficult.

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Paralegal Cathy Corsetti advised Ms. Lum during the process.

Ms. Corsetti said she advised Ms. Lum to&# x27;hire a private detective to find the owner or entrust the file to a collection agency. Obviously, a detective has a price. And collection agencies take a portion of what they collect.

Ms. Corsetti indicated that' ;#x27;she had contacted the owner several times and offered payment terms, but had not received a response.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">It's unfortunate because a lot of people think they go to court, they win and they get their money, but in any case. court it's not like that. You get your judgment, you get a nice piece of paper that says they owe you money, the problem is trying to collect it, she said.

Douglas Kwan of the Ontario Tenant Advocacy Center says many tenants who file complaints the CLI do not realize how long the procedure will be due to the enormous backlog of files.

En Furthermore, he adds that many do not know that if they win their case, the battle may not be over.

Usually, when a tenant wins a case and endures such a lengthy process, it is natural to think they will get an immediate reward, Kwan said.

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Douglas Kwan says the backlog of tens of thousands of files at the LTB is affecting many lives in Ontario. (Archives)

He adds that going to small claims court is another procedure in itself.< /p>

It's a difficult choice for tenants. They either stay and fight, or they leave and [try] to afford a place in today's market, he said.

It is important for tenants to understand that their tenancy does not end when they receive an N12, he explained. They can always assert their rights with the CLI.

According to Mr. Kwan, CLI delays discourage tenants, who end up being much less inclined to assert their rights when they learn that it could take up to #x27 ;two years before their request is heard.

In the spring of 2023, the office of the&#x27 Ontario's Ombudsman has released a report describing wait times at the Landlord and Tenant Board as atrocious and calling for an overhaul of the board. The report found a backlog of more than 38,000 cases.

The Attorney General's Office told CBC it was working on a response to a request for comment for Ms. Lum's case.

With information from CBC

  • Cédric Lizotte (View profile)< source srcset="https://images.radio-canada.ca/q_auto,w_160/v1/personnalites-rc/1x1/cedric-lizotte-journaliste-78822.png" media="(min-width: 1024px)">Cédric LizotteSuivre
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116