Promise not kept

To the editor:
Do you read all of the fine print in every notice or letter that you receive the minute that you receive it?
Well, failure to read a Notice of Hearing from the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal could result in your eviction from your home without a hearing—if you miss the part that tells you that your landlord can get an eviction order without a hearing if you don’t file a written dispute with the tribunal within five days.
This five-day default deadline is unique in Ontario legislation—no other statute requires a written response to quickly.
Last year, the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal issued 35,969 default orders to evict tenant households without a hearing.
In their Liberal policy platform in November, 2002, the current provincial government promised “In our first year of government, we will repeal the misnamed Tenant Protection Act and replace it with an effective tenant protection law. . . .
“We will also restructure the regulations guiding the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal so that the process to file grievances and respond to eviction notices is more fair and equitable to tenants.”
To date, the provincial Liberals have not kept their promise.
Last week, an Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal decision held that the Tenant Protection Act’s requirement to dispute an eviction application within five days results in discrimination against vulnerable groups.
Even the tribunal recognizes the problem with the current eviction process.
Every resident of Ontario should have a fair opportunity to respond before being evicted from their home—five days just isn’t fair.
The provincial government has taken far more than five days to respond to the problem. They have had years to deal with this, and still we wait for legislative reform.
The Tenant Protection Act should be one of the first orders of business when MPPs return to Queen’s Park this fall.
Yours truly,
Trudy K. McCormick, B.A., L.L.B.
Executive Director,
R.R. District
Legal Clinic