This post is in response to a series of questions I have received from a landlord who has never been to the Landlord & Tenant Board. I answered every question but it reminded me that the first time you have to go to the Landlord & Tenant Board can be intimidating. You don’t know what to expect. I decided to write this very basic primer about how things work there so that landlords can know what to expect.
Go Ahead of Time
In a best case scenario I would advise the landlord to go to the Landlord & Tenant Board to hang out and see how things work there ahead of time. This way when you go there you can be more prepared for how it works. Look at how the building reps and paralegals operate and act and try to aim for that.
Parking at the Landlord & Tenant Board
First of all lets start outside. I can’t speak to every office but they try to put the Landlord & Tenant Boards in transit accessible locations. If you don’t take transit at lots of the Landlord & Tenant boards you have to pay for parking. Remember to bring some cash so you can pay the parking fee. Finding a real bank machine that takes your card and won’t charge you 3$ is quite challenging and will likely require leaving the building and hunting for your kind of branch. You’ve already been through enough so just bring along a few bucks to pay for parking at the building. I don’t really recommend trying to find free parking at this time, there’s a lot of other people also looking for free parking and you’ll want to be on time.
Every Landlord & Tenant Board is different. In Oshawa and Scarborough parking is free. In the Toronto South Board on St Clair you can park at the Sobey’s and get your parking validatedÂ (if less than 2 hours) if you buy $20 worth of food at Sobey’s. At the Toronto North Board metered parking can be had but there is fierce competition for those spots unless you get there super early. Can you tell I don’t like paying for parking?
The Landlord & Tenant Board
Once you get to the Board, you’ll find them pretty modest. There is one area designated for taking applications from Landlords and Tenants. As soon as you get there if you’re on time you’ll be asked to sign in. If you happen to be quite late you should call the Landlord & Tenant Board and let them know. When you sign in they’ll ask you if you would like to mediate. I highly recommend you mediate even if you think there’s not a chance that you’ll come to an agreement with your tenants. You’ll also be told what room your case is in. Go into the hearing room and wait until the mediator comes to get you.
The hearing room is usually about the size of a classroom. At the top of the room there is a platform and a lectern/desk for the adjudicator. There is also a witness stand. Facing the adjudicator there are two desk/tables one each for the landlord and tenant. Hanging in the air are microphones. Everything is recorded. Behind the landlord/tenant tables are rows and rows of chairs. People who’s cases are not presently being heard sit there and wait for their turn.
At some point the Mediator will come and get you and the tenant. Earlier I discussed that as a landlord you should mediate even if you think there is no chance that the issues will be resolved. I have three reasons for suggesting mediation.
1 – If mediation works out, you can make an agreement or order right away. The mediator will step into the hearing room and get the adjudicator to deal with it immediately. It’s quicker and less intimidating for the new landlord to deal with mediation.
2 – It’s private and whatever is discussed does not leave the room. It doesn’t cost anything to try and if your tenant has additional issues such as maintenance you have a short warning that they will bring it up in front of the adjudicator.
3 – The mediator has more time than the adjudicator to hear all the issues.
4 – The Adjudicator and the Board want you to try mediation first. I hold the opinion that if you try and fail at mediation it looks better for you when you do go before the Adjudicator.
Try mediation you may be pleasantly surprised at the results. You may even come to an agreement that works better for everyone.
Approximately 30 minutes after the sign in time on your Notice of Hearing the Adjudicator will enter the Hearing Room. She/he will begin by addressing all the landlords & tenants. They will introduce themselves by name and telling you the rules. It’s pretty simple, whoever paid for the application gets to state their case first. People are to take turns speaking. They also go through the orderÂ that cases are heard in.
- Adjournments – these are cases in which both parties agree to hear the case another day. If your tenant calls in sick the case will be adjourned.
- Mediated cases – these are cases where both parties have come to an agreement and just required a basic seal of approval from the Adjudicator.
- Cases that are withdrawn – Sometimes the tenant has paid all the rent or the case is already resolved.
- Cases where no one has appeared – Cases where neither of the people show up at the hearing.
- Cases where only one party is present – Often only the landlord will show up, or only the tenant shows up then that case is pretty easy to deal with and goes next.
- Landlord Cases that are disputed – Landlord or tenant have not gone to mediation or have gone and can’t agree. Non-payment and simple cases go first.
- Tenant Cases – Finally the Adjudicator will deal with cases where the tenant has paid for the application usually in regards to maintenance.
Representing Yourself Properly
The first thing that will happen is the adjudicator will call your case, they will ask you to state your name into the microphone. If your tenant has not shown up the Adjudicator will ask you if you are aware of any reasons why the tenant did not attend. Then you will get to present your case. This is usually pretty simple, most cases are about non-payment. You should have a total of how much the tenant owes. The adjudicator will look through your paperwork and ask you some questions such as… Have there been any payments? etc.Â Then if the adjudicator points out a minor error on your application you can ask to amend it. If you have errors on your N-4 your case will be thrown out.
If your tenant is present they will get to present their case without interruption just like you did. Don’t worry if they tenant says things that are not true you’ll get another chance to tell the adjudicator. Tenants can ask for more time to pay or they can bring up maintenance issues.
Next you get to answer back what the tenant has said. If maintenance issues have been brought up ask for proof. It is also a good idea to do an inspection before your hearing and get the tenant to sign it.
After you and your tenant has stopped talking, the adjudicator will make a decision. He may tell you right away or he may tell you he needs to think on it. At this point, you stop and go home. A few days later you will get your order in the mail.
That’s all there is to it. Remember to keep your cool. Adjudicators will base their decision on who is more believable. Make sure you look like the sane, rational, reasonable one.
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P.S. Lets hope you never have to use this information