The Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board is a tribunal operated by the government of Ontario that provides dispute resolution of landlord and tenant matters. Either landlords or tenants may file an application to the Board. There is quite a bit already written for tenants on how to prepare for the hearing process, but little for small scale landlords who are going to the Landlord Tenant Board for the first time.
If this is your first time completing the forms and notices, I would recommend having your documentation reviewed by another experienced landlord or better yet a paralegal to ensure that everything has been completed correctly. If it has not been completed correctly, you may need to start the process again from the beginning. This is extremely frustrating when it takes weeks or months to get a hearing.
Before You Go To Your Hearing
1. If you can, I suggest that you find out when hearings are taking place and attend them as a visitor before your hearing actually takes place. This will help you to see what happens and what to expect. It will help you to be a little more comfortable in the tribunal environment as well.
2. Make sure to be prepared and bring in any evidence that you will need to convince the board member of your side of the issue. This may or may not include documentation, witnesses and pictures. If you are bringing in documents or pictures make sure to have 3 copies with you at the time of the hearing.
3.It is always better to bring witnesses then to have pictures or letters stating that something is true. These people need to be at the board on time, so make sure to communicate the date and time with them. If they are not willing to come to the hearing, it is possible to get the landlord and tenant board to issue a summons, which would compel the witnesses to appear. However this will take some time to complete.
4. Consider doing a maintenance inspection of the property in order to see if there are any repairs or issues that need to be addressed before the hearing takes place. This would help to avoid any issues that were brought up at the hearing that you were unaware existed.
5. Think through different possibilities that your tenant might bring up at the hearing. In order to give yourself a few different options that you would be willing to work with. For example, it might be acceptable for you to end a tenancy early, rather than maintain the tenancy by seeking past rent that is due. If your tenant is in agreement, you could sign an N11 agreement and mutually agree to end the tenancy early.
6. Dress the part. I’m not suggesting that you attend the hearing in your best business suit, but I am suggesting that you appear in business casual attire. There are many different studies on first impressions and how one’s appearance can affect the decisions that people make about them. Why not use this to your advantage and dress the part?
At the Hearing
7. Make sure that you have 3 copies of all the documentation and pictures. Talk to witnesses to ensure that they will attend the hearing. Be there at least 15 minutes before the time you were asked to attend the board in your “Notice of Hearing.”
8. Sign in, when you arrive and select to mediate the dispute. The parties can choose to first attempt to resolve the matter through mediation, and this is voluntary. If the mediation is unsuccessful or if the parties choose not to attempt mediation then a hearing is held in which a Board member hears evidence from both parties before issuing an order. This will be done the same day. By choosing to mediate you are able to see what direction the tenants might be taking with regards to the hearing, and you may also discover new information that they might bring up. Or you may come to a “mediated settlement.” You do not have to come to an agreement through mediation, but I always suggest that do try mediation.
9.When you get to the hearing room address the Board Member as Chair or Madame Chair, as a sign of respect. Make sure that you are polite and patient.
10. If it is you have initiated the hearing process then you will be speaking first. This is the time to present all your information, provide documentation, and facts. You would call the witnesses, and the respondent (the other party at the hearing) would be able to ask the witness questions (cross-examination). The applicant(the person who initiated the hearing) would be able to further ask the witness questions. After this, both parties would provide your closing submissions.
At the end of the hearing the Board member will come to a decision regarding the case. This is usually done verbally at the time of the hearing, and then mailed to you afterwards. There are times when the Board Member chooses not to give a decision at the time of the hearing. If that is the case, you will get a written order in the mail.
If you don’t get an order in the mail over the next 10 business days, then you should connect the Landlord Tenant Board by phone.
If you don’t agree with an order it is possible to request a review or have the board write out reasons for their decision within 30 days of the hearing. If you are going down this path, I suggest that you hire a paralegal or lawyer to help you with your case.