Who is the Landlord? LTB Review to Sort Out Non-Profits’ Role

tall-blg-icon-200pxA non-profit housing provider’s appeal has triggered a Board-initiated review. The relationship between non-profit organizations as “tenants,” building owners, and occupants of the affordable housing units is to be heard and decided by a three-member panel.

Written submissions were to be made by November 2014. The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA), Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing were among those asked to make submissions on the jurisdictional issue.

Tenant’s position was that the Act did not apply as the non-profit group is not a person who pays rent to the owner in return for the right to occupy the rental unit
LTB Member Debbie Mosaheb ruled last summer that the relationship between the private sector property owner and the supportive housing provider was a commercial tenancy, and therefore outside jurisdiction of the LTB.

Both the non-profit and the property owner had argued the Board had jurisdiction to hear the application. The non-profit supportive housing provider “locates and offers appropriate and affordable housing for its members, people struggling with serious mental illness and who have been homeless or marginalized by poverty.” It referred to the relationship between itself and the owner as the “upper tenancy.” The relationship between the non-profit and the people it provides services to was referred to as the “lower tenancy.”

The occupant of the residential unit participated in the hearing. He took the position the Act did not apply as the non-profit group is not a person who pays rent to the owner in return for the right to occupy the rental unit.

Member Debbie Mosaheb had found in June 2014 that the “tenant” agency is, in fact, a landlord. “The Tenant does not look like a tenant from the perspective of the Act’s purpose clause.” Mosaheb found that “although it may be convenient for the parties to this application to come to the Board due the fact that doing so is inexpensive and expeditious, that also does not mean the Board has jurisdiction over disputes between them.”

In July 2014, the non-profit appealed from the Order in the Divisional Court. Given the important jurisdictional and public policy issues raised, the review will proceed as a Board Initiated Review pursuant to Rule 29.1.1.

Finding that a review was needed, Vice-Chair Kim Bugby found in October that: “I am satisfied that the Order may contain a serious jurisdictional error. Further, I am mindful of the importance consistency and predictability of result has for parties who appear before administrative tribunals. Like cases should be decided alike and, where a different result is reached, parties are entitled to clear reasons distinguishing or departing from the earlier decision.”

%d bloggers like this: