Tenant Protection and Enforcement of Tenants Rights

Feb 10 2022

"In the field of Eviction Prevention in the Cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, we certainly know there is a desperate need for tenant protections. The first protection we provide in our work is educating tenants on their legal rights and responsibilities.  With the current housing crisis in the region, tenants must educate themselves so they are not illegally evicted, taken advantage of or abused. Our most vulnerable community members are 2SLGBTQ+, BIPOC, new comers, immigrants, refugees, seniors and low income," Hollee George, eviction prevention worker at the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region.

With that, there is a need for rent control in order to maintain affordable housing, and rent arrears assistance for working people. The cost of rent is rapidly increasing in the region and there are households that simply don't qualify for existing arrears programs because their incomes are too low to guarantee follow through of potential payment plans. Read more about what solutions are suggested. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen payment arrears at over $20,000 per household. Typically though, rent arrears cases are coming into eviction prevention at approximately $5,000 per household. With little to no flexibility in repayment plans at the Landlord Tenant Board, households are required to pay their existing monthly rent coupled with a repayment amount of typically $400.00 over one to two years.  The moment there is a default in these repayment plans, the household is evicted without further notice or another hearing.  There is little to no consideration for human condition or experience at the Landlord Tenant Board and so we think it's wise for rent arrears repayment plans to be done outside of the LTB as a transformational justice opportunity but corporate property owners do demand their money and often don't engage in mediation at any level with a view to helpfully settle.  

Rent arrears are a significant problem that comes together with landlord harassment and abuse that we cant lose sight of.  People continue to struggle to catch up on rent and household bills while also struggling to feed their children; all while being routinely harassed and verbally abused by property owners, property managers, superintendents and in some cases other neighbours as incited by a landlord. It is a prominent tactic for property owners to make families feel so unsafe in their home that they feel they have no other option but to leave.

Also, there are a number of legal systems beyond the Landlord Tenant Board that play out in housing conflicts. These include property standards, police, child welfare, the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit, Fire Safety and Electrical Safety. Our team works with all of these systems as we help families preserve their tenancy and/or hold property owners accountable for the maintenance and legal standards.  The community needs to know and understand how far reaching eviction prevention is and how the threat of eviction impacts people who are also involved in other legal systems. They are deeply intertwined and remain inadequate and insufficient to protect the right to housing for tenants.

Hollee George, KW eviction prevention worker
Michelle Knight, Cambridge eviction prevention worker