Tuesday, February 8, 2011
A Week in the Life of Scheduling Insanity at the Landlord and Tenant Board
Here's a week in the life of LTB scheduling insanity. This true story has taken place over the last 10 days in my practice:
I wrote about this first fiasco in my previous blog. Basically the Toronto South hearing blocks are so over-booked that the same matter went two hearing days, December 10th and January 26th, only to twice get pushed off the docket and not heard. My client was rather upset to put it mildly. Rather than take a third day off from his work and pay me for a third time, the client paid the tenant to go away.
Next, a tenant sues a landlord who then retains me to defend him. The application alleges harassment and interference with enjoyment. The hearing is scheduled for February 10th in Newmarket. I'm not available, I'm booked elsewhere. We seek the tenant's consent to reschedule and she grants it in principle. But the tenant calls the LTB about rescheduling and finds out that it could be 6 weeks before we come back. She changes her mind and withdraws consent. So the parties will waste their time and use valuable hearing time in Newmarket.
Next, a tenant sues my small-landlord client for alleged maintenance issues. A hearing is scheduled for Toronto North on February 2nd. My client is served and once again, I'm not available on that date. I write the tenant a letter, a reasonable guy, asking for his consent to reschedule. He gives his consent, with his availability dates through to the end of March, but warning me that they are subject to change. The tenant relies on me to get a new date, asking me to please book quickly. I go to the LTB counter in person to re-schedule, using my dates and his to come up with a list of dates that work. The CSR tries, but can't find any available dates as there were not many hearing blocks opened up very deep into the future, which is all too common. So I send the coordinator a faxed request to reschedule with the signed consent and dates, telling him that the dates may be subject to change and that I'd appreciate him scheduling based on our availability as soon as possible. The file seems to have disappeared into a black hole. Soon they will be scheduling past our provided dates, or one or the other of us will have booked over those dates. Perhaps we should put our lives on hold and make no plans for a month until the date is set.
Here's the best one. Snowmaaggedon arrives on February 2nd. Its our third appearance in Cobourg on a complex eviction manner, but the LTB cancelled the hearing docket the day prior. On its own initiative the Board rescheduled all the matters in the block to February 15th. But I was booked elsewhere on that date so the next day I spoke with the clinic lawyer on the other side and we came up with some dates the worked for us both. So off to the scheduling counter goes my staff, with signed consent for a return date later in March. Imagine our surprise when told that we can't consent to a date, that we need the adjudicator's consent, and that we would have to go to Cobourg on the 15th. Would that be my left side or right, cause the other half of me is in Scarborough? And of course this application, scheduled for an hour, will ultimately be adjourned with an hour hole in the middle of the hearing block being wasted.
And finally, take a look at the LTB's web site where in 2009 one could check their file's application status online, see if a date was booked, see if the order had been written.
Look at the notice date...April 27th, 2009. Its been down for almost 2 years as the Board's failed new case management system has been rolled out. The implementation of their new product has been an utter failure.
The LTB is badly broken. The government doesn't seem to care. The parties are almost universally dissatisfied. The Minister needs to take a look at the entire operation and perhaps return L&T cases to the Courts.