Some small-scale residential landlords in Ontario say a moratorium on evictions due to the pandemic which has now ended is still making it hard to get tenants out of their buildings.
Arjumand Shafique moved to Canada from Pakistan and took out a large mortgage to buy a rental home in Bowmanville, Ont., about 76 kilometres east of Toronto, but told CTV News that his most recent tenants took advantage of a moratorium on evictions by not paying the rent and trashing the house.
"I still cannot believe this fact that this has happened in Canada,” he said. “I used to think that I moved here in the country where everything is based on justice and fairness.”
Shafique said the tenants began not paying rent after just one month of moving in and he had been struggling to evict them for 17 months due to delays at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board. He claims the tenants still owe him upwards of $50,000.
“I have missed credit card payments because I don't have money to pay,” he said.
The Ontario government froze evictions and halted eviction orders due to the pandemic back in March, a time when concerns were growing that rising unemployment would force many tenants who are unable to pay their bills onto the streets.
The eviction ban ended on Sept. 14, but the backlog of eviction hearings has led to delays.
Ian Brown had hoped to evict some tenants and move into his rental property in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., following a breakup, but these delays has forced him to either live in his truck or couch surf.
"I have numerous occasions slept in the truck…with blankets and extra sweatshirts," he said.
Brown said the tenants have refused to leave and are not paying rent, but he cannot get an accelerated hearing to address the situation.
Meanwhile, tenants’ rights advocates insist only a small fraction of tenants are a problem. They are instead calling for another moratorium on evictions as cases continue to climb.
"What they shouldn't be doing is authorizing people to be evicted as the pandemic is raging," said Kenneth Hale, director of legal services at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario.