TRANSCRIPT: COVID-19 and Residential Tenancies

Introduction

Welcome to Landlord’s Self-Help Centre’s module about the Coronavirus and how it affects landlords and residential tenancies.  The information offered in this presentation is intended as general information, it is not legal advice. If you need more information, please contact a legal service provider.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, is an infectious disease that spreads primarily through airborne droplets, and it can cause mild to severe respiratory illnesses with symptoms similar to the common flu.

While many can recover from this virus, it may also lead to death. Those with underlying medical problems or weak immune systems are particularly vulnerable.

Ontario declares a State of Emergency

The following is a chronological list of events related to COVID-19 and the state of emergency in Ontario. More information can be found at the links provided.

What is social distancing?

Also referred to as physical distancing, social distancing is an altering of your daily routines and activities in an attempt to minimize close contact with others to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. At this time, the government of Canada is requiring everyone to social distance.

How to practice social distancing?

Social distancing can be practised in a variety of ways. Provided in the presentation is a list of social distancing activities obtained from the Government of Canada website https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseasesconditions/social-distancing.html

How might COVID-19 affect your tenancy?

Hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board are not currently being scheduled where eviction is sought for reasons other than serious safety impairment or illegal acts, however you can still serve notices and file the applications.

The Landlord and Tenant Board is still processing incoming applications, so by serving notices now and filing applications, you are simply trying to secure your place in line for when this process resumes.

What happens if you obtained an eviction order before this was considered a pandemic?

If you got an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board before this was considered a pandemic, you will not be able to enforce the eviction with the Sheriff at this time because an order has been issued by the Superior Court of Justice suspending evictions until further notice.

Keep your order as you will be able to file for eviction once the restrictions on evictions have been lifted.

What to do if your tenant stops paying you rent?

If your tenant stops paying rent, try talking to them to help get an understanding of what they are dealing with. If possible arrange a payment plan with the tenant and document this in writing. If this is not possible, landlords are still able to serve the N4 notice for non-payment of rent and continue with the Landlord and Tenant Board process.

The Landlord and Tenant Board has said that all incoming applications will still be

processed, but keep in mind that the Board will not hold a hearing to deal with this issue during the COVID-19 pandemic and it may take months before you get to a hearing or obtain an eviction order.

How can I get an urgent hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board?

If your matter is urgent in nature, you can request that the Landlord and Tenant Board schedule an urgent hearing.

The request for urgent hearing form can be found on the Landlord and Tenant Board website and is intended to identify applications where an urgent hearing is required because there is a serious and ongoing health or safety issue at the residential complex or a serious illegal act that occurred at the residential complex.

Along with the form is a link to instructions containing further clarification about this motion. The instructions note that applications for arrears are not typically considered urgent and the Board may reject your request. If your motion for an urgent hearing is denied, the Board will notify you of this along with reasons for the decision and a hearing will be scheduled when normal operations resume.

If the Landlord and Tenant Board approves your urgent hearing request and issues an eviction order, the landlord must then bring a motion to the court seeking permission to enforce the order.

What financial help is available for landlords?

There is some financial assistance for landlords, such as mortgage deferral options, small business supports, payment deferral options for property taxes and reduced hydro charges. For a full list of supports and programs visit the government of Canada website.

Is it ok to do maintenance inspections and/or repairs during this time?

In the best interest of everyone’s health, it is not advisable to enter the tenant’s unit during this time of social distancing as per the government’s directions. Talk to your tenants and ask that they document minor maintenance requests and inform them that you will take care of these requests when it is safe to do so.

If a repair is required, make sure to take the proper COVID-19 precautions, and provide the tenant with proper notice for entry.

Where to get more information?

For up to date information about the coronavirus, visit the World Health Organization’s website.

Conclusion

Thank you for watching this module about the Coronavirus and how it affects landlords and residential tenancies. The information offered in this presentation is intended as general information, it is not legal advice. If you have a specific issue or situation, please contact a legal service provider.