This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that the law works in favour of the tenant. In fact, every single time I write a rent-related article, the comment section inevitably gets filled up with angry remarks made by jaded and disgruntled landlords. The first few times I read these comments I thought nothing of it. I mean, people complain all the time. After a while, though, what they were saying started making sense. As a renter myself, I tend to write about issues that I can relate to. But every once in a while, you see something that’s so unfair, you just have to comment.
Take this story, posted just today in the National Post. Melissa D’Amico, a Toronto resident, has one rental property – an apartment she rented to a man, Rony Hitti, and his wife last October. Since moving in, the couple hasn’t paid Ms. D’Amico a dime. In fact, they owe her over $25,000. Presumably, Ms. D’Amico has to pay a monthly (or bi-weekly) mortgage payment – one that she likely has had trouble keeping on top of. Each time she’s tried to evict her tenants, the couple goes to court and swears that the backlog of rent has been paid, effectively cancelling out the eviction. Any cheques she has received have bounced, leaving Ms. D’Amico with two unwanted tenants and a whole pile of debt.
Thanks to Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, without confirming that the debt has indeed been settled, a sworn affidavit saying that the backlog of rent has been paid allows tenants who are facing evictions to cancel that eviction. The Act, passed in 2006, needs amending, say some judges.
“My recent sitting as a single judge of this court to hear motions has convinced me that there is a growing practice by unscrupulous residential tenants to manipulate the law improperly, and often dishonestly, to enable them to remain in their rented premises for long periods of time without having to pay rent to their landlords,” wrote Ontario Superior Justice Ted Matlow in his ruling on Ms. D’Amico’s case. “It is [a] practice that imposes an unfair hardship on landlords and reflects badly on the civil justice system in Ontario.”
He wrote further to say that he hopes that those in a position to amend the rules will do so in the future. In terms of the case of Mr. Hitti and his wife against Ms. D’Amico, the defendant was ordered to pay Ms. D’Amico’s court costs – a total that amounted to $13,072.
Landlords, what parts of the Residential Tenancies Act would you like to see amended?