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SPPA - Abuse of Process [s.23(1)]

. Schram v. Thompson

In Schram v. Thompson (Div Court, 2022) the Divisional Court awarded an unusual reinstatement of a tenant after they had been evicted for non-participation in the eviction hearing. One day after the eviction the tenant filed for a review of the eviction order, and that same day the LTB issued a stay of the order, on the basis that the tenant had not received notice of the LTB hearing. Subsequently, the LTB denied that it had jurisdiction to reinstate to tenant as the landlord claimed her disabled son was in occupation of the premises - the issue being that fresh occupation barred the LTB's reinstatement jurisdiction.

On s.210 appeal to the Divisional court the court found that the LTB had both RTA s.31(1)(f) ["make any other order that it considers appropriate"] and SPPA s.23(1) ["abuse of process"] jurisdiction:
Did the Board err in finding it did not have jurisdiction to reinstate a tenancy where a rental unit is “occupied”?

[25] The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17, is remedial legislation and it is to be given a “large and liberal interpretation”: Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities/Open Hands v. Séguin, 2020 ONSC 7405 at paras. 58-75. One of its primary purposes is to protect residential tenants from unlawful rent increases and evictions: Matthews v. Algoma Timberlakes Corp., 2010 ONCA 468 (C.A.), leave to appeal refused [2010] S.C.C.A. No. 369.

[26] The Board has broad jurisdiction to review its own orders, including to correct a miscarriage of justice. Section 209(2) of the RTA allows the Board to review an order “if a party to a proceeding was not reasonably able to participate in the proceeding.” That is what the LTB found took place at the first hearing of the Landlord’s application to evict the Tenant. That finding was not challenged on reconsideration or appeal and so has been finally determined. It is not open to the parties, the Board, or this court, to disregard or change this finding.

[27] The Board may terminate a tenancy in accordance with s. 37(1) of the RTA. A landlord may only recover possession of a rental unit where a tenant vacates or abandons the premises or where the Tenant is subject to a Board order terminating the tenancy or evicting the tenant. Where a tenant has been evicted pursuant to a Board order, the Board has jurisdiction to restore a tenant to possession of a rental unit if the Board grants a tenant’s request for review of the eviction order. Where the unit is vacant, the Board has held, and this court has approved, that the Board has the authority to restore possession to a tenant pursuant to s. 23(1) of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. S.22, to prevent an abuse of its process: TSL-06175-10-RV (Re), 2010 CanLII 65490 at paras. 1-4 (Ont. LTB); TSL-67800-15-RV (Re), 2016 CanLII 39858 at paras. 25-30 (Ont. LTB); Kwak v. Marinecorp Mgt. Inc., [2007] O.J. No. 2692 at paras. 16-17 (Div. Ct.); Young v. CRC Self-Help, 2020 ONSC 1874 at para. 39 (Div. Ct.); Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority v. Ahmed, [2001] O.J. No. 1477 at paras 7-10 (Div. Ct.).

[28] In Seguin, this court found that the Board has broad remedial jurisdiction to reinstate a tenant, including by virtue of s. 31(1)(f) of the RTA which permits it to make “any other order that it considers appropriate.”

[29] In seeking written submissions on whether to order reinstatement, the Board reviewed the procedural history of the matter and concluded that:
Logically, where a tenant successfully argues, on a review, that she or he was not reasonably able to participate in the hearing, and the Board’s order has been enforced by the Sheriff but the unit remains vacant, I believe that the Board does have the jurisdiction to order that tenant back into possession, once the review is granted, in order to prevent an abuse of process. This is especially so as, upon a successful review request, the initial order is null, the tenancy between the parties has not been terminated, and the tenant retains the right to possession of the unit by virtue of the tenancy agreement. However, this may not be where a new tenant or, in this case, the Landlord’s son, is in possession of the unit. 

Given the above, I find that the Board lacks the jurisdiction to grant the Tenant’s request to return possession of the rental unit to the Tenant since he was lawfully evicted, and the rental unit is no longer vacant. No further submissions were provided by the Tenant to counter the Landlord’s submission with respect to the status of the rental unit. As such, the Tenant’s request must be denied.

(Emphasis added)
[30] The Board’s decision is flawed in multiple ways:
a. it failed to consider the implications of the Board having stayed the eviction order almost immediately after the eviction was carried out and failed to inquire into the date on which the tenant’s son was said to have occupied the unit;

b. it relied on an unsworn written submission from the Landlord that the Landlord’s son was occupying the unit;

c. it failed to require an affidavit from the son (the alleged occupant) as required by s.72(1)(a) of the RTA;

d. it failed to consider whether it had remedial discretion to displace an “occupant” who was not a “tenant”; and

e. it failed to consider whether it had remedial discretion to displace a “tenant” to address an abuse of process in respect to a prior tenant.
[31] It was necessary for the Board to require a proper evidentiary basis for the claim that the Landlord’s son was occupying the unit, including evidence of the date on which he took up that occupancy. Of course, if the Landlord and her son had presented false sworn evidence to the Tribunal in response to such requirements, then the Tribunal’s decision might have been the same. But if sworn evidence had been required, including evidence from the son, this might have given the Landlord pause. That is one of the reasons for the requirement of sworn evidence: the Landlord made a false statement to the LTB. If she had been required to put that statement under oath, it might have given her pause. The Landlord’s son might not have been prepared to provide false testimony. Requiring a proper evidentiary basis, in this case, could have prevented the injustice that took place.

[32] Once the Board had a proper record before it, it was then necessary for the Board to consider its jurisdiction and the proper exercise of its remedial discretion on the basis of the facts before it. In the circumstances of this case, it is not necessary for us to reason through the issues of jurisdiction and exercise of discretion. As we explain below, with the evidentiary record before this court, which was not before the Board, questions of jurisdiction do not arise, and the proper exercise of discretion is straightforward.


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Last modified: 21-05-23
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