Windsor

Tenants and landlords in limbo as calls grow to fill adjudicator position

Windsor has been without a dedicated adjudicator for several months. Local disputes being handled by London adjudicators..who only hold hearings over the phone. People are waiting months for a resolution

Local paralegal calling on Ford government to fill position

The hearing room at MacKenzie Hall where landlord tenant tribunal hearings are held. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Dozens of landlords and tenants sit in the waiting room at MacKenzie Hall. Hoping for their turn to have disputes resolved by a provincially appointed adjudicator. But on this Thursday there is no adjudicator. A scene that has been repeated for several months now.

"The system is broken the way it is right now. Three months to wait for a resolution on an unpaid rent is unacceptable," said landlord Susan Burke Hogan.

Windsor is relying on adjudicators to come down from London. But if that's not possible uncontested matters are dealt with using a speaker phone. The adjudicator attends the hearing by phone. However, if the two sides want a trial that can't be done over the phone so the matter is put off. Usually for months.

"Landlords are losing out on money every day because these are being adjourned to another hearing which could be another two to three months ," said paralegal Chris Hall.

Paralegal Chris Hall shows the desk where landlords and tenants sit for their hearings. A speaker phone on the desk is used to communicate with an adjudicator in London. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"So what kind of government  do we have here?" complains landlord Henne Lutfallah."They collect our money but they're not providing the service."

Tenants are also being denied prompt resolutions.

"It's very stressful. I had to get counselling because of it. It took me eight months to get a decision coming back and forth," said tenant Eugenia Hamelin.

Hall said the province should at least provide video conferencing and allow materials to be emailed to the adjudicator in London so matters can be dealt with.

He says the government has put out applications for a new adjudicator but says it will still take a couple of months to fill the spot.

"So I'm hoping this government is going to expedite it."

He has written the three local MPP's asking they push for a resolution and he's calling on the Ford government to fill the position as soon as possible.

Lawyer Jason Cowie provides legal aid work for the tenants and he says he also has to rush clients through because of cuts to the legal aid system.

"We have to move 'em on to make sure we have a chance to see everybody that does need some assistance," said Cowie.

A spokesperson for Tribunals Ontario acknowledged service delays — including application processing delays — throughout the province.

"Currently, there is a very high volume of applications and a lower than normal number of adjudicators," wrote Julia Timoshenko in an email. "These factors have contributed to service delays in the time to a hearing and in issuing orders."

Timoshenko added the province's Landlord and Tenant Board is "currently recruiting additional adjudicators with a particular focus on regions that have the greatest need, including the Southwest Region."

The Ombudsman has launched an investigation into delays across the province. Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls says he will also look into the matter.

 

About the Author

Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is an award-winning video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print.

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