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Tribunals Ontario Unveils Their New Commitment to Openness and Transparency

 

On May 1, 2019 Tribunals Ontario, Social Justice Division announced that they are now allowing third-party access to the case files or records of the proceedings before them. The Landlord Tenant Board is one of these tribunals.  This change in policy occurred due to an Ontario Superior Court decision (Toronto Star v. AG Ontario, 2018 ONSC 2586 (CanLII))in April 2018 that found that the secrecy at the tribunals was unconstitutional and gave one year for the Attorney General of Ontario to change the way they handle requests for information.

In theory, this means that anyone should be able to access information about most matters that appear before the LTB. Time will tell what it means in practice, though. There are still some matters that may be closed to the public or media due to legal reasons, but that will be on a case by case basis and not a blanket policy to protect people’s privacy. It remains to be seen whether or not the names of participants will continue to be reduced to initials in the cases posted to Canlii.org.

For landlords, the time it takes for the Landlord and Tenant Board to fulfil information requests will determine how useful this change will be for them. Many landlords hope to be able to use the information to screen applicants to their rental units. In an ideal world, landlords would like to know if applicants had been a party in any issues before the LTB in the past. However, there remain many questions about whether Tribunals Ontario, Social Justice Divisions new policy of ensuring “openness and transparency in its proceedings, including public access to hearings, decisions and records” can be used in this manner.

Despite unrolling the new Access and Privacy Policy on May 1, 2019, there are still many unanswered questions about how the process will work and what information must be provided in order requests to be fulfilled. Then there are logistical issues. For instance, if the LTB does process requests for information about a specific name (with no specific address) the landlord submitting the request will still have to determine the name to submit. Has the applicant used the same name on their application for the landlord as they have used for past addresses, landlords, or LTB proceedings? Or that appears on their ID? And, will the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) complete requests for multiple variations on the same name or will they turn them down. Further, while the announcement does mention that there may be costs associated with fulfilling the requests, there is no information about what the amount of said costs would be. Finally, the way to make a request online seems unnecessarily convoluted.

While there is nominally openness at the LTB, it may not yet be time to celebrate that — “plus ça change”.

At Prosperity Property Management Inc applicant screening is a priority and we are meticulous when finding tenants for your investment properties. Contact us today at 905-805-8535 to find out more about our tenant placement services.

 

 

 

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