Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wait Time for Rent at LTB Getting Shorter?

While I've not written about it here, the Landlord and Tenant Board has undertaken an initiative to reduce the backlog for rent applications, which was in some cases, six, seven even eight weeks from filing date to the hearing.  In a nutshell, the busy regional offices are now taking one day a week (or two in one location) and loading up hearing blocks, morning and afternoon, with a huge load of L1, rent arrears applications.  In fact, their stated policy is that at each regional office, rent applications would ONLY be heard on those special assigned super-block days.  That would leave the other 4 days of the week available for conduct applications, tenant applications etc., cases that are more complex and which require more time.  Often those cases were getting sent home after the parties had waited through a block of rent applications which took up all the available time.

Now it's too early to claim success, but over the last two weeks, I've seen a number of my own rent files where I was able to get a date within 3 weeks, which I think is the stated objective.  Tenant applications and conduct applications are also getting to hearing faster.  I was in Newmarket this morning, which is notorious for long times between filing and the hearing date.  It's also famous for hearing blocks so large, they are unmanageable.  Much to my surprise, there were only 15 files in the block, and better still, they had all been filed in January. 

So perhaps it is working.  If this really is getting the wait times down, my hat goes off to the staff and Members who I know have put in a lot of extra effort to make this work. I hope this Herculean effort doesn't result in burn-out of Members who have these large blocks foisted on them.  Some of these blocks have upwards of 60 files.  However about 60% of the L1 arrears files are unopposed, that is, the tenant does not show up.  The system of using a case update sheet provided to the Member on the morning of the hearing is effective in speeding things up. 

The system isn't yet perfect, and frankly it concerns me that some of the crowds in the smaller locations overwhelm the room.  Sometimes it's standing room only.  There are pictures in my previous blog post that will astonish you.  It's also difficult for practitioners if they have clients with properties in Guelph, for instance, which is always held on Monday, but have most of their files at the Toronto South location, which has it's super-block on Monday.  It becomes tricky to find time to get to Guelph, even once a month, when every Monday you are guaranteed to be tied up at the Toronto South location.  Perhaps every regional office location should have these super-blocks on two days, not just one, which would cut down the crowd size and allow more flexibility for booking.

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