- The Residential Tenancies Act is tenant-centred legislation
- Decisions from the appeal courts have generally favoured tenants for a number of reasons
- Legal Aid Ontario over-funds tenant-side programs, and provides little funding for landlords
Legal Aid Ontario takes government money and doles it out, supposedly in the public interest. But Legal Aid Ontario considers that there is a huge power imbalance between landlords and tenants, and provides funding almost exclusively for tenants. There are 79 community legal clinics across the province, plus a number of specialty clinics, including ACTO, the Advocacy Centre For Tenants Ontario. In addition to its activities in the area of law reform, ACTO runs a program that provides tenant duty counsel for all hearings in all GTA area locations of the Landlord and Tenant Board. The community legal clinics handle duty-counsel services for the rest of the province. When a tenant walks into a Board office for a hearing, they are greeted by staff lawyers or community legal workers whose job it is to delay evictions, defeat landlord's applications, and have tenants win significant monetary judgments from landlords.
Landlords have no assistance at the Board through ACTO, nor do they have the ability to get assistance from the community legal clinics. There is one landlord-side legal clinic given minimal funding by Legal Aid Ontario. It is called the Landlord's Self-Help Centre, but it provides summary advice by phone or for walk-ins. There is no funding for legal representation at the Board or on appeal at the Courts for landlords. Landlord's Self-Help Centre has no staff lawyer, has no funding for test-case litigation, and while they do good work, small landlords are almost always the losers when they appear at the Board without representation when the tenant has a well-trained lawyer with the resources of Legal Aid Ontario behind them.
Landlords, particularly small-scale landlords should be up in arms at the heavy-handed measures taken by the legal clinics considering that there is an enormous imbalance in power and money. The solution is certainly political. Landlords should be complaining to Legal Aid Ontario, the Attorney General and the Ontario Ombudsman.