In 2020, the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) moved their services online due to the pandemic. To date the electronic hearings have been disorganized and confusing for everyone.
The announcement that digital LTB hearings are going to be permanent is cause for alarm. The digital process so far is disruptive and makes it harder for tenants to access justice at their LTB hearing. ACTO and TDCP continue to call for Tribunals Ontario to reverse their decision and resume in-person hearings immediately, with safety protocols instated.
In the meantime, we put together this list of our top tips for tenants at a digital hearing. We’ve split them into 3 sections – Before your hearing, During your hearing, and After your hearing.
Before your hearing
Sign up to get free legal advice before your hearing – The Tenant Duty Counsel (TDC) Program offers free advice to tenants before their scheduled hearing. You can sign up to get legal advice here: https://tdc.acto.ca/. If you have trouble signing in, please call Legal Aid Ontario to direct you to TDC at 1‑800‑668‑8258 (toll-free) Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for help in over 300 languages.
Ways to participate – The digital LTB hearings happen on Zoom. You can take part in a hearing either by video or phone. A pair of headphones with a microphone is helpful so that you can hear clearly and be heard clearly. A reliable wifi or data network connection is a must. If you cannot join your hearing by video, you can join by phone. Make sure all your devices are charged and that you have enough data and minutes because hearings can sometimes last a few hours. If you do not have the appropriate equipment to participate in your hearing, we suggest contacting your local community legal clinic, who may be able to help you. You can find your clinic here: http://www.legalaid.on.ca/legal-clinics/
If you do NOT have access to this technology – If you do not own and cannot borrow the equipment you need to take part in your hearing, you can also file a Request for Accommodation to ask for an in-person hearing at the LTB. The form you need to submit can be found here: https://tribunalsontario.ca/documents/ltb/Other%20Forms/Request_for_Additional_Services_Form.pdf
If you are worried you cannot take part in your digital hearing – If you have a disability or other issue that may prevent you from taking part in a digital hearing, you can also file a request for an in-person hearing. It is the same form: https://tribunalsontario.ca/documents/ltb/Other%20Forms/Request_for_Additional_Services_Form.pdf
Please note: other parties to the application (meaning your landlord) will be able to see your accommodation request. If you are concerned about sharing sensitive medical information, contact the LTB. Here is more information about how to protect your human rights at the LTB: https://www.acto.ca/documents/ltbandhumanrights/
You are allowed to oppose eviction orders – At your eviction hearing, you are allowed to bring your own evidence to contest the eviction order. The Adjudicator (who is the person from the Landlord and Tenant Board who will make a decision about your case, like a judge) is supposed to hear evidence from both you and your landlord BEFORE they make their decision.
Submit your evidence no later than 7 days before your hearing – Here are the rules for submitting your evidence to the LTB. The rules are detailed, so read carefully. https://tribunalsontario.ca/documents/ltb/Practice%20Directions/Practice%20Direction%20on%20Evidence.html.
You will need to submit your evidence 7 days before your hearing, unless it is in reply to evidence from your landlord or their representative. If you are responding, submit your evidence no later than 5 days before your hearing. Make sure you ALSO send your evidence to your landlord or their representative – the LTB does not share the evidence you email them with your landlord. You have to do this yourself.