Archive for the ‘Landlord and Tenant Board’ Category

‘Free benefit’ or blacklisted? Hamilton tenants and landlords clash over private information

Monday, March 29th, 2021

‘Free benefit’ or blacklisted? Hamilton tenants and landlords clash over private information

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Seven tenants of a Hamilton apartment building say their personal information — including their names and rent payment histories — was taken by their landlord and submitted to a company without their consent.

The landlord, Live Well Property Management Ltd., entered the information into a database run by the Landlord Credit Bureau (LCB), a newly-licensed consumer reporting agency that boasts over 30,000 landlord and tenant users across North America.

The LCB tracks tenants’ payment habits and then transfers that data to Equifax, a multinational credit reporting agency which — through the information provided by the LCB — can either boost or lower a tenant’s credit score based on how promptly they pay their rent.

While some residents say their privacy has been breached, others worry about the consequences.

Dave Pace-Bonello and his partner Joey Nicole and their son Julian. They have lived at the building -- 94 East Ave. S. -- for 20 years.

The LCB database keeps a list of individual tenant records which — besides a name, email, address and rent history, among other pieces of data — contains reviews written by landlords detailing their experiences with a given tenant.

“If we paid our rent late because our paycheque didn’t land on the first of the month, what would that do to our credit?” asked Dave Pace-Bonello, who has lived in three-storey building at 94 East Ave. S. for the past two decades.

“If our landlord writes a bad review about us just because he doesn’t like us, and another landlord sees that, what does that do to our chances of finding another home?”

The residents at 94 East were informed they had been registered to the service through emails sent to them by the LCB within the past year.

The emails framed the bureau as a “free benefit” for tenants and an opportunity for them to get “an advantage over other applicants” on future lease applications.

Residents who are late with rent, leave without proper notice or cause damages “will likely find it more difficult to obtain tenancy and credit in the future as this information is shared with other landlords and credit bureaus,” the emails say.

Zachary Killam, president and CEO of the LCB, told The Spectator consent is not always required to collect a tenant’s data.

He said the company’s standing as a consumer reporting agency gives it the lawful right to gather information without consent insofar as a debt is owed or an agreement has been breached.

Ann Cavoukian, a former Ontario privacy commissioner, called the collection of information without consent an “appalling” practice.

While she sympathizes with landlords who want a resource to recoup late rent payments, she said such a resource can’t be created at the expense of tenants who are unaware their personal information is being shared.

“Everything has to be totally upfront with people understanding what they’re getting into,” said Cavoukian.

According to the LCB’s privacy policy, it can collect all sorts of data about tenants in addition to outstanding rent and landlord reviews, including IP addresses, passport and driver’s licence numbers, social insurance and security numbers, marital status and job history.

Killam said the LCB “does not currently collect all of those,” but did not specify what information is collected or how.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has launched an investigation into alleged privacy breaches committed by the LCB.

Spokesperson Vito Pilieci couldn’t comment on the status of the probe, but said federal legislation typically requires “meaningful consent” for the collection, use or disclosure of information.

Dave Pace-Bonello, his partner Joey Nicol and their son Julian in their apartment at 94 East Ave. S., where the family has lived for two decades. Pace-Bonello warned neighbours private information was taken by their landlord and submitted to a consumer reporting agency without their consent.

‘You have no reason to be worried’

Pace-Bonello and his longtime partner, Joey Nicol, asked Live Well management several times to remove their information off the LCB.

All but one request went unheeded.

In one email exchange dated March 24, 2020, Nicol asked her landlord, Matt Christie, why the couple’s information was taken without consent and to remove it from the LCB database.

“You have no reason to be worried,” replied Christie, who is listed as a director of Live Well in corporate records. “(You) always pay your rent on time and when you log in to LCB you will see that’s what has been recorded for you.”

A back-and-forth ensued.

“Consent is not required,” wrote Christie in a May 1 text to Pace-Bonello after Pace-Bonello again said he did not consent to the couple’s information being taken.

“I sent your request to the landlord. I’ll let you know the response once I have it,” he added.

“… and consent is 100 per cent not required.”

An excerpt of a text exchange between 94 East Ave. S. tenant Dave Pace-Bonello and his landlord, Matt Christie, who is a director of Live Well Property Management Ltd. Christie refuses to take Pace-Bonello's tenant information off the LCB database and says consent was not required to collect it.

By July 9, Christie agreed to remove the couple’s record from the LCB database, which included their names, move-in dates, email addresses, rent amount and address. He told them in an email that if rent ever went unpaid in the future, Live Well might reopen their record.

The ordeal left the couple deflated.

“It made me not trust our landlord anymore,” said Nicol of Christie. “I didn’t understand why he was so invested in the LCB but not in us, his tenants. He knew our concerns and he still didn’t address them, and he made me feel combative for sticking up for our family.”

Another tenant at 94 East, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution from Live Well, said she also struggled to remove her information off the LCB.

In one email with Marv Steier, a co-founder of the LCB who is no longer with the company, the tenant asked why she had to provide her SIN if the LCB reports to her credit agency.

“Your landlord is reporting your rent payments for your benefit,” wrote Steier in the email in late April 2020.

“I don’t want this ‘free benefit,’” the tenant replied. “My credit score has been over 800 for years, how would this benefit me?”

The tenant told The Spectator she didn’t consent to have her information collected and asked both the LCB and Live Well to have it removed. She said she never got a clear answer as to whether her record was deleted.

The Spectator posed several questions to Christie concerning the allegations that Live Well took tenants’ information without consent.

He responded with a statement about Pace-Bonello and Nicol.

“We’ve worked hard and considerably improved the standard of the building they live in and assisted them as needed, yet been subject to ongoing derogatory, rude and bullying behaviour from them towards our team,” Christie said via email.

Is the LCB impartial?

Ontario’s Consumer Reporting Act states if a credit agency collects negative or unfavourable information about an individual, there must be some form of effort on the part of the agency to corroborate that information.

The LCB said it does not accept anonymous information on its database and users’ identifications are verified prior to posts. They added landlord and tenant reviews are vetted by staff to ensure foul language and personal attacks are omitted.

“We do not allow false or vindictive reporting,” said Killam, the CEO, who noted consent from tenants is also required before a future landlord can look at their records.

However, it’s difficult to differentiate unfavourable information from fact if that information is subjective, argued Benjamin Reis, a housing lawyer with Downtown Legal Services at the University of Toronto.

“Information put into a consumer report must be based on the best available evidence,” said Reis. “Asking, ‘Tell me what you think about this tenant?’ is not what I think would be best evidence.

“What if we found out that the reason a landlord said, ‘Yes, I have a problem with this person,’ is because the landlord has a problem with people of colour? That’s quite possible.”

Killam said users are contractually bound to be non-discriminatory on the LCB platform. He also said tenants can access their own records and dispute them.

But a section of the LCB’s tenant record form — where landlords are asked six ‘yes or no’ questions about a person’s tenancy — puts that claim of impartial access under scrutiny.

A screenshot of a tenant's record form on the LCB database that is shared with landlord but not tenants.

“This information is NOT SHARED with the tenants but is shared with other landlords who search this tenant,” reads a disclaimer atop the questions, which range from whether the tenant paid rent late or were tried at court for breaching a lease agreement, to property damages or noise complaints.

Reis argued a company can’t claim to be impartial if it allows access to information to one set of users but not the other.

“This idea of a secret list where tenants don’t know if they’re on it, don’t know what was said about them or by who, that’s what most people think about when they think about a blacklist,” said Reis, adding “yes or no” questions also point to the LCB’s lack of due diligence.

“Instead of asking ‘yes or no’ whether the tenant was taken to court, why not include a copy of the decision so people get the facts?”

Douglas Kwan, director of advocacy and legal services of Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, echoed similar remarks about the LCB allowing landlord reviews.

“If you’re solely interested in a tenant’s ability to pay the rent, which is what their website says, what is the purpose of these reviews?” asked Kwan. “A landlord can make lots of comments that really have no place or doesn’t speak to whether a tenant can pay their rent.”

Both Reis and Kwan took issue with what they consider to be a conflict of interest in the LCB’s leadership.

According to corporate records obtained by The Spectator, Killam is one two directors at Live Well Property Management Ltd., which owns several properties in Hamilton and the GTA.

Killam said he hasn’t been actively involved with Live Well since 2018.

“There has never been a conflict of interest,” he said. “LCB is impartial and judicious in its operations and services.”

Reis argued the connection raises questions about neutrality, particularly with respect to consumer reporting agencies.

“Credit agencies like Equifax and TransUnion are institutions people are supposed to trust. But what if they were owned by someone who is also a director at a credit card company?” Reis asked.

“If Bell or Rogers claimed I owed a bill that I didn’t actually owe, I would expect that Equifax not be owned by Bell or Rogers.”

The LCB sues critical tenants

Killam and the LCB sued Pace-Bonello and Nicol for defamation and copyright infringement on Jan. 14.

According to a statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia — a province where the LCB is listed under a different name than the corporation number registered in Ontario — the couple “sought to damage the business and reputation of the LCB and their directors” by creating a website that contains information about the agency.

The website is alleged to have accused the LCB of unlawful and unethical conduct, the claim states, and infringed the trademark and copyright of the LCB.

The agency is seeking a permanent injunction restraining the couple from ever writing or publishing information about the LCB that it believes to be defamatory.

Pace-Bonello, who plans to defend himself at the hearing, said he created the website in June after months of haggling with Live Well to remove his information from the LCB.

It was intended to be a resource for tenants at 94 East who received the same unprompted LCB registration email as the couple did.

“We thought about how many of our neighbours also received that email and had no clue what was going on,” he said.

Dave Pace-Bonello, his partner Joey Nicol and their son Julian. The family has lived at 94 East Ave. S. for 20 years.

The website contains detailed information about the LCB, its terms of service, and what rights tenants have related to consent. There is a disclaimer at the end of each post noting the website is not legal advice and for “community educational” purposes.

It received plenty of traction from neighbours, Pace-Bonello said.

One tenant at 94 East, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution from Live Well, said the site helped give context to that initial email from the LCB.

“If it weren’t for Dave and Joey, we wouldn’t know what (the LCB) was or why we should care or what our rights were,” said the tenant, who has lived in the building for three decades.

Pace-Bonello said he can understand why the LCB isn’t happy with the website — but he can’t understand why they are trying to silence him.

“They’re entitled to respond, absolutely. But to respond in a way that no further conversation can ever happen again, that doesn’t make any sense to me as a Canadian,” he said.

“When you see that someone wants to go to that length with you, rather than answer some of these questions and address these concerns in public, it’s shocking and it’s scary. It’s like the whole bottom falls out.”

For further reading click on Landlord Credit Bureau Facts.

The Ontario Landlords Association is the Recognized Voice For Residential Landlords in Ontario

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

 

“The Ministry greatly values the role the Ontario Landlords Association and its members play in providing quality, affordable rental housing in Ontario and recognizes the OLA provides an important voice for small private residential landlords.”

Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

 

Important Information For Small Landlords: Expedited Enforcement of Eviction Orders

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

April 8, 2021

TO:                 Ontario Landlord Association Stakeholders

FROM:           Karen Restoule, Associate Chair, Lynn Dicaire, Registrar

 RE:                 Expedited Enforcement of Eviction Orders

On April 8, 2021, the Government of Ontario issued Ontario Regulation 266/21 made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

This regulation states that the Court Enforcement Office (Sheriff) cannot enforce any Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) eviction order unless the order asks the Sheriff to expedite the enforcement. 

The Sheriff can resume enforcing all eviction orders after the Government of Ontario removes the regulation.

The LTB is continuing to hold hearings for all types of applications and issue orders, including orders for evictions. This will help ensure that tenants and landlords seeking resolution from the LTB are provided access to justice with minimal service delays.

The purpose of this memo is to provide information on when an eviction order issued by the LTB may include a request to the Sheriff to expedite enforcement.

Section 84 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (“RTA”) says that the LTB must include such a request to the Sheriff in the order where the tenant is being evicted for certain types of very serious conduct, and the adjudicator has not delayed the enforcement date pursuant to section 83(1)(b) of the RTA. The grounds for eviction in section 84 are:

  • Willfully damaging the rental unit
  • Using the unit in a way which is inconsistent with residential use and caused, or is likely to cause, significant damage
  • Committing an illegal act in the unit involving the production or trafficking of illegal drugs
  • Seriously impairing someone’s safety
  • Substantially interfering with the landlord’s reasonable enjoyment – in cases where the landlord and tenant live in the same building and the building has three or fewer residential units

If a landlord believes that an eviction order should include a request to the Sheriff to expedite enforcement, but the application is not based on any of the grounds contained in section 84 of the RTA, the landlord may raise this issue during the hearing.

The adjudicator may consider whether the tenant is responsible for an urgent problem such as a serious and ongoing health or safety issue at the residential complex or a serious illegal act that occurred at the residential complex. The tenant will have the opportunity to make submissions on this issue if they are at the hearing.

If the hearing for the landlord’s eviction application has already been completed but the order has not been issued, the landlord may contact the LTB to ask the adjudicator who held the hearing to consider adding to the order a request to the Sheriff to expedite enforcement of eviction. Landlords can submit a request to expedite enforcement of the eviction by fax, mail or email. The tenant will have an opportunity to make submissions on this issue.

Eviction orders that have already been issued can only be changed if the order contains a serious error or a clerical mistake. If a landlord believes that an order contains a serious error, the landlord may file a request to review the order. If the landlord believes that the order contains a clerical mistake, the landlord may file a request to amend the order. More information on this process is available on the Application and Hearing Process page of our website.

We remain committed to updating you about operational planning and we are appreciative of your patience and cooperation as we continue to adjust our operations in response to the ongoing pandemic. For new information check out this site for updates.

Sincerely,

[Original signed by]              [Original signed by]

Karen Restoule                    Lynn Dicaire

Associate Chair                    Registrar

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Become An Ontario EXPERT LANDLORD And Succeed And Make Profits!

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

During These Challenging Times You Need To Become An ONTARIO EXPERT LANDLORD To Run A Profitable, Successful Rental Business. Take Control Of Your Financial Future!

Being a small landlord in Ontario is not a hands-off investment. Especially these days. There are so many tenants who abuse the system you need to be careful at all times.

Let’s look at some of the most common challenges we face:

1. It’s becoming common for tenants to decide they don’t have to pay rent

2. It takes months to get a Hearing date at the Landlord & Tenant Board

3. Some tenants are becoming aggressive and threatening

4. The government is offering no support or help for small landlords

5. Eviction dates for people who haven’t paid rent in 2019 or 2020 might be delayed until 2021

Is The System Fair? No, But You Can Still Succeed!

The laws in Ontario are very “bad tenant friendly.” By this, we mean bad tenants who know how to manipulate the system and stay for months and months rent free.

We keep reading about non-OLA members saying:

“It’s not fair, they aren’t paying, the system needs fixing, I’m out $20,000, they haven’t paid for months, they trashed the property, oh I’m so sad!” 

We teach landlords the system isn’t fair (and hasn’t been for over a decade) and the rules can create a horrible nightmare for honest, hard-working small landlords and our families.

Complaining, Protests, Letters To The MPPs,  Credit Reporting,  Ombudsman, Chasing After Debts You Won’t Collect…Will Not Help You Succeed!

The government is 100% aware of the nightmares small landlords face. So protests, emails, calls to the Ombudsman, etc. won’t help us.

Yes The Provincial Government Is 100% Aware Of What’s Going On

But they don’t care!

They don’t want a wave of evictions to happen and bad headlines in the media…so instead small family landlords are expected to “eat the costs” for their political ambitions. That means you are stuck paying the bills for others.

You Can Still Run A Profitable And Successful Rental Business in Ontario

Become an expert and learn the rules and learn how to use the rules to help you succeed.

Learn How To Win and Profit!

If you want to succeed it’s up to you to learn how to successfully maneuver in a challenging environment. Those who understand the system can use it for success, as many OLA members are wealthy due to their rental properties.

The landlords who are protesting & complaining are not OLA members. They didn’t screen carefully & didn’t know what to do when their tenants didn’t pay rent. Most won’t see a dime of money owed to them!

With the way things work in Ontario, many landlords who fail to treat running their rental business super seriously will fail. But those who take the time to become experts can succeed.

Don’t Fret, Don’t Give Up…Become An Expert Landlord And Run A Profitable Rental Business!

The rental industry is complicated and you need to become a sophisticated investor/landlord. You need to become an Expert Landlord who knows the rules better than any bad tenant does.

By learning the ropes and learning the rules you can run a very successful and profitable rental business and AVOID problems later on.

There Are New Rules To the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA)

Landlords need to be aware there are many changes to the RTA thanks to Bill 184.

Landlords also need to be aware that any mistake we make in our filings with the Landlord and Tenant Board must be “perfect” or they will be rejected! We must also prepare extremely carefully for our LTB hearings.

Become A Landlord Expert Or Lose At The Landlord And Tenant Board!

With hearing dates taking over a year you need to make you sure you WIN at your hearing. If you don’t it will take forever to get another hearing date…so make sure you win!

Tenants Get Free Legal Help At the LTB Hearing

LTB Hearings are confrontational: landlords vs. their tenants. Many small landlords are shocked at how the system wants you to lose and you to pay (so the government doesn’t have to pay for housing…you do).

But it’s not really you versus your tenant, it’s you versus a very experienced lawyer or paralegal who know the laws inside out. And they get rewarded for winning over landlords.

Do not underestimate the dirty tricks they will use to win for their tenant client and do whatever it takes to win for their tenant.

All Tenants No Matter Their Income Get Free Legal Help At the LTB

Small Landlords Need To Take Matters Into Our Own Hands

This is especially important as Bill 184 is now law and it will take months and months to get a Hearing (so when you get your hearing date you need to win or you could face another six or eight months of non-payment of rent!)

Learn The New Rules With Bill 184 And What You Need To Learn To Get An Eviction At the LTB

Created by experienced and successful landlords who know the legislation, know the rules, know the laws… but also know being a landlord is a “people business” that non-landlords will never understand. You can download this 24/7 along with all our other helpful advice and services.

Do You Want To Be A Successful Landlord? 

Our CD along with help in our forums will help you succeed.

Become an Ontario Landlord Expert And Learn The Ropes of Running a Profitable Rental Business in Ontario – Yes It Can Be Done! Start Winning!

Now Part Of Our EXPERT Landlord Membership!

All For A One Time Registration Fee.

And You Get Access To Our Forums:

Need  Help From Experts?

You Also Get Access To Thousands Of Expert Landlords on Canada’s Largest Landlord Forum To Help You!

For A One-Time Fee, Experienced and Successful Landlords Are Willing To Help You! Landlords Who Have Been In The Landlord Business For Decades Are Willing To Mentor You and Help You.

Get a Mentor with the OLA to help you!

Join Our Community And Succeed and Become an Expert Landlord.

JOIN OUR EXPERT SERVICES NOW!

Landlord And Tenant Board Speaks To Ontario Landlords Association Members

Monday, February 15th, 2021

February 16, 2021

TO:                Ontario Landlord Association Members

FROM:           Karen Restoule, Associate Chair

                        Lynn Dicaire, Registrar

 RE:                 Eviction Enforcement Resumes in 27 Ontario Regions

On February 16, 2021, the government announced that residential eviction enforcement will resume in 27 public health unit regions:

  • Niagara Region Public Health
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health
  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services
  • Durham Region Health Department
  • Halton Region Public Health
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  • Wellington-Dufferin Guelph Public Health
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Lambton Public Health
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Porcupine Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury and Districts
  • Algoma Public Health
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Peterborough Public Health
  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit.

The Court Enforcement Office (Sheriff) may enforce all Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) eviction orders in these 27 regions and the previously announced three regions that are no longer subject to the Stay-at-Home order. To find out which public health unit your rental unit is located in, enter the postal code in the Ministry of Health’s Public Health Unit Locator.

In all other regions of the province, previously announced restrictions on enforcement of LTB evictions orders by the Sheriff remain in effect. In those regions, the Sheriff cannot enforce an LTB eviction order unless the order asks the Sheriff to expedite the enforcement. If you believe the LTB should request an expedited eviction, please raise the issue at your hearing.

The government may make further changes to the list of public health unit regions subject to these restrictions in the weeks to come.

The LTB continues to hold hearings for all types of applications and issue orders, including orders for evictions. This will help ensure that tenants and landlords seeking resolution from the LTB are provided access to justice with minimal service delays.

Please continue to refer to our website for operational updates. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.

Sincerely,

[original signed by]               [original signed by]

Karen Restoule                   Lynn Dicaire

Associate Chair                   Registrar