Eviction action

Paul York (stephen.york@utoronto.ca)
Sat, 13 Feb 1999 15:38:44 PST


Stop homelessness where it starts . . .

Stop the Harris Government's Eviction Factory!

Protest the Ontario government's Rental Housing
Tribunal and so-called "Tenant Protection Act"

Join Toronto Action for Social Change, tenants,
activists, homeless, concerned citizens on

Monday February 22, 12 noon - 56 Wellesley West
(Bay & Wellesley)

If you have been evicted or know someone who
has, please let them know about this event.

This is a non-violent event. Everyone welcome!


*  In the first eight months of the Tribunal some 30,000
   applications were made by landlords to evict tenants.

* Half were in Toronto, in one of the three district offices.
   The office at 56 Wellesely hears over 60 cases a day.

*  Most applications are to evict. Under half the total
    number of evictions go through the system. Many
    tenants do not have the resources to mount a legal

*  There is now a financial incentive for landlords to evict
    tenants called "vacancy decontrol" -- once a unit becomes
    vacant the landlord is allowed to charge whatever he

*  Evictions have increased due to 21% cuts to welfare
    and the loss of rent subsidies.

*  Evictions in social housing are expected to increase
    as private sector management takes over -- a direct
    result of Harris' downloading of social housing to

*  Rents are doubling in some areas of the city.
    Many fraudulent applications to evict are being brought
    forward by landlords.

*  There were over 10,000 'default judgements' against
    tenants. This usually happened because the tenants
    did not file a dispute. Under the new law tenants have
    only five days (real days--weekends and holidays too)
    to file a dispute.

*  The Ministry of Housing calls the new system a 
    "streamlining" of evictions. There are so many
    evictions filed by landlords the South Central office,
    56 Wellelsey, has an enourmous back log.

*  Tenants who are out of town and for whom English
    is not a first language are at a disadvantage, in
    terms of filing a dispute within the given time.

*  Over 90% of all applications were made by landlords;
    97% of the total applications are filed by landlords"
    according to the Landlord Source Centre.

*  "I'd say about half the eviction cases, mabye more,
    at the Tribunal are bogus" says paralegal Sandy
    Hutchens - Toronto Star

*  The Tenant Protection Act and Tribunal Regulations
    (which govern the Tribunal procedures) were written
    in close consultation with landlords and landlord
    lawyers and condo development consortiums.

*  Tenants consultation was almost completely excluded
    and their suggestions ignored during the Bill 96 Hearings,
    presided over by Tory Steve Gilchrest, assistant to Al
    Leach. Gilchrest yelled at tenants and their advocates
    and praised landlords and developers.

*  The Tribunal is adjudicated by Harris appointees,
    appointed by the Ministry of Housing. Most are lawyers
    and former rent control adjudicators.

*  Most evictions are for arrears -- non-payment of rent.
    Rents have gone up at least across the city (over 7%
    according the CMHC). Economic evictions are a major
    leading cause of homelessness.

*  "Over the next five years Toronto could lose 25,000
    to 50,000 low-rent apartments annually as rents rise.
    Over 100,000 people are currently on waiting lists for
    affordable housing.  - Golden Report.

*  "It's factory evictions . . . I would call it a disaster.
     It's a new kind of housing crisis. I think it's the direct
     cause of homelessness." - Nancy Hindmarsh,
     tenant duty counsel - NOW magazine

*  The big emphasis in the new system is mediation, but
    mediation assumes an even playing feild where none
    exists -- on one side are landlord lawyers with years'
    experience -- at the other table are inexperienced
    frightened tenants about to lose their home. 

*  The Tribunal replaces Landlord and Tenant Court.
    Judges are not part of the new system. It is now a
    "quasi-judicial" body. Appeals are possible only where
    there is a clerical error or dispute over a point of law.

*  Tenants who dispute their case too strongly can be
    charged with  "harassment" by the landlord. Ministry
    of Housing official Jim Dyl told landlords, "we added this
    part as a measure against 'professional tenants.'" What
    about 'professional landlords?'

*  Many landlords do not take the new sytem seriously;
    they believe the law is supposed to go completely in
    their favour. "The Tenant Protection Act is a step in
    the right direction" according to FRPOO, a landlord
    lobby group.

*  Clinic legal worker Sam Kuhn reports "Adjudicators
    often do not listen to tenants, and they are not
    awarding the penalites they  have powers to award.
    Landlords have no respect for the Tribunal or adjudicators.
    That's why  we need the authority of the court system."

*  Legal clinics are having to turn away people
    who need help because they are underfunded and
    understaffed due to Harris' attack on the legal aid
    / legal clinic system.

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