If you own income property and you encounter issues with your tenants you should contact an experienced housing lawyer to assist with your issue.
You have a hearing scheduled at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), you have received your Notice of Hearing, which lists the date time and location of your hearing. Maybe your tenant has filed a claim for an abatement because you didn’t take care of the maintenance, or maybe you filed for an eviction hearing because your tenant did not pay their rent. In either scenario the LTB will decide on the outcome and make a ruling after a hearing. An upcoming hearing can be a nerve wracking experience, an experienced housing lawyer can assist you and lessen your stress. Likewise by having some basic information on what to expect on hearing date, you can ensure you are ready for anything.
Arriving at the Board
You should arrive at the LTB location laid out in your Notice of Hearing with time to spare. You must sign up to indicate you are present, at some locations there may be electronic sign in whereas at others you will need to stand in a security line and give your name and unit number to a Commissionaire. By signing in you will ensure that your matter will not be called without you.
Once everyone has signed in, all people with matters to be heard will be called into the hearing room. The adjudicator (LTB’s decision maker, a quasi judge), the mediator and Tenant Duty Counsel will all give announcements, inviting you to sign up for additional available services before your hearing. The Board member will remind parties of their requirement to exchange evidence, the need for paper copies of evidence and there will likely be some hearing room etiquette reminders (hats off, cell phones off, no talking unless it’s your matter, etc.).
Tenant Duty Counsel
Legal Aid Ontario through the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario will usually have a Duty Counsel lawyer present to give some free legal advice to unrepresented tenants, before their hearing and/or mediation. Landlords are not eligible for this service. The LTB will usually delay hearing matters if the tenant is still awaiting their chance to speak with Duty Counsel. Many landlords resent the free service for tenants, but often Duty Counsel can assist tenants in advocating for a reasonable position, which is advantageous to both parties.
Mediation at the LTB will be conducted with a Board mediator. Both parties must agree to sit down for mediation and all settlement discussions are confidential. Even if you don’t reach an agreement in mediation, it can still be helpful to narrow the issues in dispute and can also be helpful to learn the other side’s strategy. Often reaching a settlement is better than taking a gamble and attending a full hearing.
Prior to a hearing both parties are required to disclose their evidence to the other side. The LTB will usually not look at electronic evidence, as such it is important to have 3 physical copies of any evidence ready before you attend the hearing.
Before commencing with any evidence, either party can raise preliminary issues (i.e.: adjournment requests). Then the party who filed the initial application will present their evidence first. The other side will get the option to cross examine any witnesses. Then the responding party (the one who did not file the application) can present their evidence and then the other party can cross examine their witnesses. Finally, both parties will make closing submissions.
If the parties came to an agreement in mediation, the Board member will put that into an official Order. If there was a full hearing, often the adjudicator will “reserve” their decision and send it in the mail later, or they can decide on the spot and then mail out the decision in writing later. If it was a complex matter, usually the adjudicator will reserve.
Facing a hearing of any kind can be a stressful and frightening experience. If you are experiencing any housing or landlord tenant issues, you should contact a housing lawyer immediately. Mehdi Au LLP has experienced housing lawyers on staff who can assist you with your case.
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