What does the new Ontario “Eviction Ban” really mean?
Tenants are understandably confused by the latest orders from the province regarding evictions in Ontario.
Yesterday, the Ontario government issued a temporary mandate banning most eviction enforcement during the state of emergency. This order expires in 14 days, at which time it must be renewed. But what does the ban really mean?
Many Ontarians were not even aware the eviction ban ordered March 19, 2020, was lifted in July. Nearly 20, 000 eviction hearings were held in November and December alone.
What’s more, the new “eviction ban” is less effective than measures put in place from March to July of this year. When the earlier ban was instituted, COVID-19 case rates were around three hundred per day, with some businesses closed or modified. At that time, the government responded by banning evictions and shutting down the Landlord Tenant Board for four and a half months. Now, with case counts at an unprecedented 3,500 per day, another strict lockdown implemented in the dead of winter and more people out of work, the government has taken the underwhelming and insufficient action of pausing eviction enforcement for two weeks. That’s it.
What can landlords do?
While the emergency order is in place, in most cases, landlords cannot have a tenant removed from their home by the sheriff. However, landlords can still issue eviction notices to tenants and file for hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board.
What about the Landlord and Tenant Board?
The Landlord and Tenant Board will continue to hold online eviction hearings and can still issue eviction orders. Tenants who had LTB eviction orders issued against them before cannot legally be removed from their homes. Tenants who have upcoming online eviction hearings where the LTB issues an eviction cannot be forced out through legal means while the emergency order is in place. The exception would be in cases where the LTB requests the sheriff to expedite the eviction based on “illegal acts” or “serious impairment of safety” caused by the tenant.
Temporary eviction bans only delay some evictions. Ontario tenants need rent forgiveness now!
The emergency order does little to protect tenants who fell behind on rent due to the pandemic: Landlords will still issue eviction notices and online eviction hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board will continue. Further, we know that in most cases tenants facing eviction do not stay in their unit up to the point of the sheriff coming to remove them. With or without a ban on enforcement, tenants are still facing huge debts and many will abandon their homes. Some landlords are ramping up their harassment of tenants hoping they can push them out through other means.
Tenants need rent forgiveness.
Landlords must forgive the rents owed by struggling tenants who have been unable to pay their rent in full during the pandemic.
Eviction for unpaid rent during the pandemic must be taken off the table.
The government must prohibit eviction for unpaid rent during the months of the pandemic. Eviction orders issued against tenants during the pandemic must be rescinded.
The eviction factory must be shut down.
As long as the public health emergency continues, landlords should not be permitted to issue eviction notices, the LTB should not accept eviction applications, and no eviction order should be enforced.
Any solution to the mass eviction crisis will require working-class people in this city to strengthen the organizing we have been doing in our buildings and neighbourhoods. We need to find our neighbours who are behind on rent and face the threat of eviction. We need to demand that landlords refrain from evicting tenants who have been unable to pay rent in full during the crisis. And we need to insist that landlords forgive the rent struggling tenants have been unable to pay.
We must also prepare for the inevitable rush on sheriff removals that will take place once the emergency order ends. When landlords insist on throwing out tenants during COVID, we will need to physically block sheriffs and police from removing our neighbours from their homes. These are the kind of actions organized tenants across Toronto have been taking for months.
Organized tenants have the power to demand landlords agree to rent relief, but only if we keep building. Go to KeepYourRent.com to get in touch. We can help you find your neighbours and teach you how to defend against evictions.
Half measures that only delay some evictions are not the answer. Our government has made it clear once again that we cannot leave this work to them. We need more working-class people in even more neighbourhoods to begin taking on the work of keeping our neighbours safe and housed.