July 13th, 2013
To give the tenant the power to destroy the landlord’s employment hardly seems reasonable to me, but as it happened, I was able to send my eldest daughter to the house with a permission form, and the squatters did sign it.
Even so, it took a great many phone calls and tears before a manager at the Landlord and Tenant Board finally intervened and agreed to schedule all three of our hearings for the same day – and on a Tuesday.
Still not ideal, as I teach at 11 am on Tuesdays, and they do not typically allow such minor details to influence the adjudicator’s schedule, but the manager did agree to write a letter requesting that if at all possible, our issues be dealt with as early as possible on that day.
Unfortunately, in order to “accommodate” me to this extent, the hearing was delayed by several weeks – and of course, the tenants paid no rent for January either. Nor February.
Over the course of the time while we were waiting for the hearing, the tenants made numerous complaints to various agencies, resulting in our receiving almost daily phone calls, and even threats, from by-law officers, fire chiefs, and the police.
They complained that the vacuum my husband used in the basement unit of the building disturbed them, which resulted in a police officer first of all, entering our unit without permission, and secondly, instructing my husband to leave to cease interfering with her “enjoyment.”
They objected to him stopping at the work site on the highway where the partner worked and writing down the name of his employer from the side of the work trucks, and called the police for that as well.
They provided a list of repairs they wanted completed in the unit. These ranged from the frivolous such as “our light fixtures don’t work” (light bulbs) and 2 elements and the oven don’t work (they removed the elements, and the oven timer needed turning to the off position) to the ridiculous (we want the wall that we ripped out in the bathroom and the deck that we trucked away from the back door replaced).
When we did attend to attempt to make repairs we were verbally abused and/or denied entry, and the few repairs they did allow were promptly and publicly undone. We also heard regularly from people in our small town that they were crowing about how they were successfully “screwing” both us and OW.
And of course, they continued to toss their garbage – mountains of it – into not only the back yard, now, but also in the front, and in the parking areas.
Finally the day of the hearing arrived. And we were, in fact, one of the first cases to be dealt with. The tenants were not actually present when we were called to the front of the room – they arrived several minutes in, more than an hour past the time we were – supposedly – required to sign in.
It was abundantly clear that the rules about signing in and providing three copies of any evidence to be offered only applied to landlords.
The issues were dealt with relatively easily, and we – we thought – were successful on all three counts.
The adjudicator told us that he found that our evidence was credible and the tenants’ was not, and that they had indeed given notice for the end of November, refused to vacate, and paid no rent since.
He would, he said, order that the stay of the original eviction order be lifted, requiring them to vacate the unit by 31-Jan. As well, his order would direct that they pay the rent owing and for the damages we were able to prove at that point.
As we left the building, naively thinking that we had won, the tenants were heading back in
– it was not until the written order arrived more than a week later that we discovered that we should, perhaps, have followed them. The written order was not as the adjudicator had stated. It seems likely that when they went back in, the tenant was able to speak to the Duty Council and – in spite of the principles stated on the LTB website which include that:
5. A Member will not communicate directly or indirectly with any party, witness or representative in respect of a proceeding outside of a hearing or pre-hearing conference, except in the presence of all parties and their representatives
He was somehow able to have it amended.
When it arrived, her partner had been deemed to be not a tenant and therefore removed from the order – and the adjudicator found that due to her circumstances it was “not unfair” to permit her additional time, so rather than 31-Jan, he gave her until 15-Feb.
Which, given the Sheriff’s “process” meant that we would be on the hook for all of February and possibly well into March. How nice of him to be so charitable with our money!
And while the order would allow for us to be paid a pro-rated amount for the additional period, since she was on OW (Ontario Works), the fact that he was removed from the order ensured that we would not be able to collect a single cent of the more than $5,000 owing to us at that point.
This left us asking ourselves – Does the Landlord and Tenant Board Follow their Own Rules?
To Be Continued…