Challenges with the Changes to Ontario’s Commercial Tenancies Act (or it’s a crap law)

What do you get when a Prime Minister “wings it” and says that there should be a ban on Commercial Evictions during a press conference?  Well, you get Provinces scrambling to make it so, because it’s not a federal issue, it’s a provincial issue.  You finally end up with legislation that is crap, well, in Ontario you do.  I don’t know about the other Provinces.

The first problem is the timing: by the time the legislation was out on June 17, 2020, many tenants were already in arrears on March, April and May rent.     As there was no legislation preventing Landlords from terminating leases (there is actually no such thing as a Commercial Eviction) many small Landlords who could not afford to keep tenants who are not paying, had already started enforcement proceedings.    If they started after June 3, 2020 they are “undone” if they were before they were fine.

The second problem is that the legislation did not ensure it only applied to tenants who were not in arrears prior to the pandemic.  If a tenant was in chronic arrears, why should a Landlord be forced to continue on due to a pandemic?  That makes no sense and was not the purpose of the legislation.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that while the Landlord is prevented from Distraining (selling the goods of the tenant to pay for arrears of rent) there is no additional deterrent in the legislation to prevent tenants from emptying the premises of goods while the amendments are in place. 

The scale has been incredibly tipped in favour of non-paying tenants. 

It is completely unfair to put a pause on the Landlord’s remedies without also putting a pause on the ability of tenants to empty out premises.

As I see it the math on this looks like this:

PM Press Conference + rushed legislation = crap

My Grade 10 math teacher would be proud: I finally showed my work !

Inga B. Andriessen, JD