Ontario Ombudsman to investigate delays at Landlord and Tenant Board
January 9, 2020
9 January 2020
In the wake of a recent surge in complaints, Ombudsman Dubé today announced an investigation into serious delays at the LTB, the administrative tribunal that resolves residential tenancy disputes.
(TORONTO - January 9, 2020) – In the wake of a recent surge in complaints, Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé today announced an investigation into serious delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), the administrative tribunal that resolves residential tenancy disputes.
Complaints to the Ombudsman about long waits for hearings and decisions by the board have increased over the past year as its case backlogs have worsened.
Of the more than 200 complaints the Ombudsman received about the LTB in fiscal 2018-2019, about 80 were specifically about delays. The Ombudsman has already received more than 110 complaints about delays in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, including 43 last month alone.
“What we’re seeing in some of these complaints is that delays have a very real human impact,” Mr. Dubé said. “For example, when a landlord whose family relies on the rental income of a property has to go without that money for months before the LTB even schedules a hearing. Or when a tenant who has asked for repairs or is threatened with eviction has to live in limbo, waiting for the board’s decision.”
Tribunals Ontario has also seen a spike in complaints about LTB delays – and its most recent annual report noted that the board has not consistently met its own service standards since 2017. In the Ombudsman’s last Annual Report, he noted that Tribunals Ontario attributed delays primarily to a shortage of adjudicators.
The investigation will focus on whether the government is taking adequate steps to address the delays and backlogged cases. Although the terms of some adjudicators were recently extended and a few more have been recruited, the investigation will also look into other potential systemic factors that may be contributing to the problem, such as relevant legislation, training, funding and technology.
“In conducting a systemic investigation, we are able not only to shine a light on what isn’t working, but to recommend solutions, based on evidence we gather about best practices and our many years of expertise in helping bureaucracies work better,” Mr. Dubé said.
The Ombudsman has notified the board, Tribunals Ontario, and the Ministry of the Attorney General of the investigation. It will be conducted by the Special Ombudsman Response Team, which handles in-depth investigations into complex and systemic issues.
Anyone who has been affected by or has relevant information about this issue is encouraged to contact the Ombudsman’s Office by filing an online complaint form at www.ombudsman.on.ca, or by calling 1-800-263-1830.
Since 2005, dozens of investigations by the Special Ombudsman Response team have prompted systemic reforms affecting millions of Ontarians, including increased supports for people with developmental disabilities, better tracking of inmates in segregation, improved driver licence suspension notices, fairer property tax assessments, expanded screening of newborn babies for preventable diseases, and a more secure lottery system.
The Ombudsman is an independent, impartial officer of the Ontario Legislature who resolves and investigates public complaints about provincial government bodies, as well as French language services, child protection services, municipalities, universities and school boards. He does not overturn decisions of elected officials or set public policy, but makes recommendations to ensure administrative fairness, transparency and accountability. The Ombudsman’s recommendations have been overwhelmingly accepted. In 2018-2019, his office received 27,419 complaints, 61% of which were resolved within two weeks.