As per the CBC, The Ontario Bar Association has launched a new pro bono legal service to assist tenants who are at risk of losing their homes when residential evictions resume soon across the province. Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board is expected to begin working through a giant backlog of cases as enforcement resumes more widely across the province. The new service offers 30 minutes of free legal advice.
“There will be a wave of hearings and there will be a wave of evictions.” – Doug Ferguson, chair of the OBA’s pro bono work.
Lawyers who volunteer for the program will walk clients through their tenant rights, and help them to negotiate agreements with landlords, such as deferring payments or delaying an eventual move-out date. The bar association says it has enough volunteer lawyers to help up to 100 clients per week. Tenants in special and complicated circumstances can receive more than the allocated 30 minutes of time if the individual lawyer agrees to help them further.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a survey last month that indicated rent arrears increased nationally due to COVID-19. 58.3 per cent of survey respondents reporting a higher rent arrears rate in 2020 than the previous year. Toronto recorded the highest arrears rate, with 34,858 units, in arrears in 2020. That represents about 10% of Toronto’s market. The estimated amount of unpaid rent reached $55 million in Toronto last year.