Housing

Tenant Defence Fund Pilot Program

COVID-19: Tenants and Property Owners

The information below outlines some of the changes, options and supports available to you during these challenging times.   

The Ontario government suspension of new evictions through the COVID-19 crisis has ended as of August 1. Refer to the Landlord and Tenant Board website for details. It is critical that tenants and landlords have a written rent repayment agreement in place with payments that the tenant is able to make in their current financial situation. Tenants should not agree to repayment amounts they are not able to pay. Tenants should speak to their landlord about a repayment agreement even if they have received an eviction notice. Learn more about the financial supports that may be available.

Eviction orders issued before the mid-March Emergency Order are now being enforced. Eviction hearings are now being scheduled. Where landlords have given tenants eviction notices (N notices) during the eviction suspension, landlords must follow the processes in the Residential Tenancies Act to evict a tenant. These eviction processes were recently revised and the changes are retroactive to the March Emergency Order. Landlords and tenants can learn more about these changes to rental and eviction law from the Government of Ontario.

CERB applications are now being reviewed. Individuals who received CERB payments but were ineligible will be required to repay the amounts received. The CRA is asking individuals to repay those amounts by December 31, 2020. If a person repays the CERB before this time, the government says that they won't be fined or get any type of penalty. Review the CERB repayment details. For questions about your individual circumstance, please contact the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic.

Tenant questions should be directed to Hamilton Community Legal Clinic. Landlord questions should be directed to Tribunals Ontario. Check this site regularly for additional updates and helpful links. 

Helpful Links:

The Residential Tenancy Act, 2006 (RTA) establishes a framework for the regulation of residential rents and balances the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. It provides protection for residential tenants from unlawful rent increases and unlawful evictions, and includes processes to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. 

Learn more about landlord rights and responsibilities

Helpful Links:

There are many types of financial support available to help individuals and families experiencing challenges due to COVID-19. A COVID-19 Virtual Assistant is available online to help you find more information on what financial supports are there for you from the Government of Canada.

Learn more about federal and provincial financial supports for individuals

Helpful Links:

The Property Tax Assistance program outlines several financial measures to Hamilton property taxpayers and ratepayers dealing with the possible financial hardship caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic.  

Learn more about Support for Property Tax Payers 


Helpful Links:

Landlords are urged to adopt enhanced health and safety measures to protect residents from COVID-19. Residential buildings with a high number of units should adopt new practices and a rigorous cleaning routine to prevent viral spread.

Property owners/tenants are encouraged to check in on vulnerable residents/neighbours, connecting them to appropriate local agencies and supports if necessary.

Helpful Links:

To date, the City of Hamilton has allocated over $700,000 toward supporting vulnerable residents during this difficult time by assisting with food and basic needs, keeping shelters open and working with agencies to provide access to washrooms/showers. Isolation Centres have also been set up to provide food and shelter to any individuals in the shelter system that test positive for COVID-19.

A temporary emergency shelter based out of FirstOntario Centre will offer additional support to individuals who are at-risk and/or experiencing homeless, accommodating overflow from the shelter system to help ensure physical distancing.

Staff are also exploring ways to provide online supports for older adults, offering property owners some form of tax relief and setting up a network to deliver essentials like food and medication to those who are self-isolating but have little support.

List of emergency shelters for men, women, youth and families

 

The Tenant Defence Fund Pilot Program (TDFPP) is open to eligible groups of at least 4 tenant households whose landlord have applied to the Landlord Tenant Board for an Above Guideline Rent Increase (AGI). The TDFPP can provide resources and knowledge to help tenant groups defend the application at the Landlord Tenant Board.

The support can include securing meeting space, printing and photocopying documents relating to the grant application, and up to $1000 to hire a paralegal or lawyer Licensed with the Law Society of Ontario to help the tenants prepare for the case and represent them.

Eligibility & Requirements for the TDFPP:

  • At least 20% of the units affected by the application must oppose the application (by signing a petition in the TDFPP application).
  • Only one tenant group from any rental complex may receive funding (the first to apply)
  • There must be at least four households in the tenant group
  • Monthly rents for each unit participating in the case must be at or below the following (current rent before the AGI application is submitted by the landlord):
Unit Size Maximum Qualifying Pre-Application Rent
One Bedroom $972
Two Bedroom $1,181
Three Bedroom or Larger $1,334
  • At least 20% of the units affected by the AGI application must be currently rented at or below the qualifying monthly rent in the table above.
  • Each affected household must sign a form stating that their current rent is at or below the amount in the table above
  • The tenant group must choose one tenant representative as the primary representative for the group. The group must also name an alternative tenant representative in case the primary representative cannot complete their required tasks.

Program funding is limited.

Tenant Defense Fund Program Expansion

In March 2019, the City created the Tenant Defence Fund (TDF) to assist with Above Guideline Increase (AGI) applications at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). In Spring 2021 the City expanded the TDF program to support tenants through a LTB application related to N13 notices, also known as renovictions (report HSC19011(a)).

Expanding the Tenant Defence Fund to include renovictions will allow the already existing program and staff compliment to support tenants with preparation and legal support at the LTB. The Province of Ontario provides guidance to tenants if evicted due to renovations:

Your landlord must also compensate you if they evict you from your unit to:

  • renovate
  • repair
  • demolish

They must give you the right of first refusal to move back into the unit following the renovation. You must notify your landlord in writing before you leave that you want them to offer you the unit when they complete the renovation. Under the new rules, if your landlord fails to provide you a right of first refusal, you will have two years, rather than one, to file a claim with the Landlord and Tenant Board for compensation.

The termination date in the landlord's notice of termination must be at least 120 days after the notice is given and must be the last day of a fixed term tenancy, or if there is no fixed term, the last day of a rental period. This notice is often referred to as a "Form N13".

Tenants who have been issued an N13 notice, who believe the landlord gave a notice in bad faith can apply for the TDF for support through the LTB process. Individual or groups of tenants are eligible for a TDF application under the renovictions category. Tenants must show proof of address and evidence of eviction in the form of an N-13 notice or other notice provided to them notifying them of the eviction due to renovations.

TDF grants will be reviewed on an individual basis, once TDF grant applications total the program limit of $50,000 are approved, no further TDF grant applications will be approved.  

It is not a goal of the TDF to stop landlords from obtaining fair AGIs or completing renovations that meet the criteria set out in the RTA, but to provide resources to vulnerable tenants who may not have the resources or abilities that are typically available to their landlords, so they can ensure that any AGI or renovation they are subject to meets the RTA.

This expansion of the TDF aligns with the goals and strategies of the Housing and Homelessness Action Plan. Specifically, Outcome 3: people have the individualized supports they need to obtain and maintain housing, strategy 2: Increase housing supports that help tenants remained housed and Outcome 5: All people experience equity in housing and housing-related services, strategy 5: Improve information and knowledge sharing within the housing sector.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the Tenant Defence Fund Pilot Program or would like to apply to the Program, please contact:

Janet Surmanski, Tenant Relations Officer
Phone 905-546-2424 ext. 3941
Email [email protected]