Tenants face “wave of evictions” as stay-at-home order lifts in Toronto

Eviction enforcement resumes in Toronto now that a "freeze" during the second wave has ended


A “freeze” on evictions enacted province-wide for the stay-at-home order and state of emergency has ended in Toronto, Peel and North Bay.

The freeze came into effect on January 13 after the provincial government implemented a regulation that said that the sheriff, or Court Enforcement Office, cannot enforce a Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) eviction order until the stay-at-home order ends.

The freeze on evictions was lifted in different Ontario regions throughout February, but it ended in Toronto, Peel and North Bay on March 8 after the three regions re-entered the colour-coded COVID-19 response framework.

This freeze differs from the first eviction moratorium that was implemented back in March at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That moratorium, which ended with the state of emergency in July, meant that landlords could still submit eviction applications to the LTB, but the board had mostly stopped conducting any eviction hearings.

But during the second wave in January alone, while the eviction freeze was in place, the LTB conducted 1,431 eviction hearings according to the eviction tracker Evictions Ontario.

The LTB continued to conduct eviction hearings at a similar rate to what was happening during the fast-tracked eviction catch-up of October to December of 2020, where the LTB worked to get through the thousands of eviction applications that piled up during the first eviction moratorium.

Now that the freeze has been lifted, sheriffs can move forward with removing tenants from their homes.

Cole Webber, a community legal worker with Parkdale Community Legal Services, says that whether it’s an eviction “freeze” or a moratorium, none of it has done anything to meaningfully protect renters.

“At no point during the pandemic has there been real relief from eviction for tenants,” he says. 

“What we’ve seen throughout the pandemic is that every level of government has completely ignored and refused to take responsibility for the situation faced by tens of thousands of tenants who have lost work during the pandemic,” he notes.

Back in December, NDP MPP Suze Morrison’s motion to ban evictions for the entirety of the pandemic passed unanimously by the Ontario legislature.

But in early February, when Morrison tabled the private members’ “No Covid Evictions Act” bill, the Ford government voted against it. 

Evictions cause concern for COVID-19 spread in Ontario

Randy McLin, a paralegal with Truax Legal Services, says that evictions are especially a concern now when it comes to keeping people safe from COVID-19. McLin represents many families in Peel region, which has been a hotspot since the beginning of the pandemic.

“That’s where many workers are – truck drivers, Amazon workers – and they tend to be from the newcomer communities so they’re more intergenerational,” he explains. “What the eviction ban would do is allow the families that I’m representing, to have a bit of a reprieve to not have to move in with their families, to not to condense those households further, and actually to stop the spread.”

A new study published in November found that lifting eviction moratoriums in 43 states across the United States was associated with increased COVID-19 incidence and mortality. The lifted moratoriums translated to an average total of 433,700 excess cases and 10,700 excess deaths. 

McLin says that he dealt with clients in the summer who, had the board processed their eviction orders, would have had to move in with elderly relatives while COVID-positive.

“Where else are they supposed to go when they get evicted?” he says. 

In response to a question about whether resuming residential evictions will increase the spread of COVID-19 during a news conference on Monday, Chief Medical Officer of Ontario Dr. David Williams acknowledged that evictions could be a problem when it comes to isolation within multi-generational family settings. 

“So the key factor is that if they can’t isolate, we’d like to help them try and find some way to isolate in a way that’s reasonable and meets all the needs that they have for the time period,” he said.

Webber predicts that, similar to the push to speed through eviction hearings after the moratorium, there will be a push to evict tenants now that the eviction freeze has lifted.

“We’re likely going to see a wave of eviction enforcement and sheriffs removing tenants,” he says.

@juliajmastro

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7 responses to “Tenants face “wave of evictions” as stay-at-home order lifts in Toronto”

  1. The fact that our humanity has completely alloted all levels of government in Canada have completely turned their backs on people who have lost their livelihoods and know have to face the threat of eviction! Just another form of discretion, for people who live paycheck to paycheck! It’s a disgrace!!!!!

  2. In Ontario, it’s always presumed the bottom of the pyramid will just move home or couch surf. What about the portion that doesn’t and will just be added to the homeless population. Crime in Toronto over the coming year will explode.

    • Did anyone read that study? It correlates lifted eviction bans with overall state mortality? WHAT? Furthermore it includes March 2020 data, the month that COVID started as well – any evictions around that time are from issues far before the pandemic.

      Regardless – the argument that some people are moving into homes with the older generation and causing mortality works under the assumption that the evicted group also happens to have COVID? If they didn’t, then that would be fine, no? If you don’t isolate/quarantine before you were evicted, then you have a higher chance of contracting it. It’s considered irresponsible otherwise, plain and simple.

      Here’s a wild (or sensible how you look at it) idea – open the economy but enforce health measures. Take any stimulus $$$ and reinforce the hospitals – I’m sure it would be more cost effective than paying people their salary. If you’re health vulnerable then isolate yourself accordingly. Make people work instead of creating a reliance on the government for handouts.

  3. what about the small time landloards who have non rent paying tenents are they supposed to just let the rent slide and keep propping up the non paying ones who more than likely were getting gov,mt cheques but just followed the masses in not paying because some posters on street signs said so me thinks if you no pay you no stay

  4. The ones that suffer the most are the children. With the govt trying to get the homeless into hotels and out of site with their shopping carts and living in the parks where people like to take their children. The last thing we need are more homeless people suffering the elements. More low income buildings for those most vulnerable are needed. This is Canada not a third world country.

  5. Ontario has a supply and demand issue when it comes to housing. Since Landlords have been denied access to justice for over a year and have been dealing with a bias residential tenancy act and landlord and tenant board for well over a decade, we see more investors selling their single-family, condos and townhomes. This has put more pressure on the rental housing market and on the government to provide more government housing. 
    Throughout the pandemic tenants in Ontario had/have access to CERB, EI, portable housing benefit, socials assistance, ” RENT BANKS” and work income. Many tenants have been able to pay rent, food and utilities with the emergency benefits that were offered. Some tenants thought it was a great opportunity to take advantage of the pandemic and choose not to pay rent. Those tenants may not qualify for rent bank assistance, since they have to prove they were in financial hardship and many tenants can not show they had any more, because they had money to pay rent. 
    In reality, we had housing issues well before covid. In 2018-2019 there was  82,095  application brought the landlord and tenant board.  73,738 of those applications were landlord applications. 62.4% of the landlord applications were for non-payment of rent. Why is the government making landlords a social agency with no compensation? Why are tenants requesting free rent? Why isn’t the government guiding tenants to available housing funds? If someone steals food from a grocery store, they are charged with theft, Why aren’t tenants charged for stealing as they refuse to pay for their accommodations and they refuse to leave?
    The Landlord and Tenant Board are supposed to provide justice to both landlords and tenants. The LTB has been experiencing a backlog for applications for years and is only now trying to make changes to bring fairness back to the board. 
    Thankfully, good landlords and good tenants have Landlords Credit Bureau to bring justice and fairness to the rental housing market. Landlords can report their tenant’s payment history to LCB in which will be sent to Equifax. Tenants will now reap the benefit of paying their rent in full and on time. Tenants who choose to abuse the system and no pay rent, that will impact their credit report.
    Landlords who are screening their potential tenancy can also do a tenancy search with LCB international database. Tenants can also share their good payment history with other potential landlords.
    Time to reward the people who deserve it and time to stop the people who are abusing it.
    Cheers

  6. With all due respect, the focus here is the people story but the menace are the Banks, Mortgages, and Investors that are entitled. These institutions have not given relief and it trickles to the tenant
    Refocus your story on that. The bad guys are not the landlord’s , it’s the money that is the issue.

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