Government policy with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic is being updated regularly.
I have two important news updates for you. One is on virtual open houses and the other is related to NR12 evictions.
Open House Prohibition & Virtual Open Houses
On April 4th the Province of Ontario announced a prohibition on open houses.
Real estate brokerages, brokers and salespeople must cease hosting and attending open houses. In addition, RECO strongly recommends that brokers and salespeople follow the direction of health officials by limiting showings to situations where they are absolutely necessary.
The government has also added requirements for short-term accommodation rentals; they can only be provided to individuals who need housing during the state of emergency. We would interpret this to mean that Airbnb rental accommodations would be prohibited unless critical to provide emergency housing.
OREA was one of the first associations in Canada to urge Members to stop hosting open houses. I am happy to report the Government has heard us and is following our advice. We also lobbied the Government to prohibit in-person open houses under its essential services definitions.
The Government’s April 3rd, 2020 essential service list reads:
Open houses prohibited
- Every person who is responsible for a business that provides real estate agent services shall ensure that the business does not host, provide or support any open house events.
Since the prohibition was announced, OREA has fielded many questions from Members about whether or not the restriction includes virtual open houses.
The answer is no. Despite the prohibition, members can continue to host virtual open houses with their clients.
On top of the Province’s list of essential services, it clearly states that, “teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.”
Moreover, RECO has stated that registrants should, “look at technological solutions that can significantly reduce or eliminate the need for these in-person interactions, and discuss alternatives with their clients… including, using virtual tours, 360 walk-throughs, mobile measurement applications and digital floorplans instead of in-person viewings.”
That being said – this is not business as usual. Ontario REALTORS® need to continue to do what is right and suspend all face-to-face business. Business that can wait until after the State of Emergency, should clearly wait until it ends. REALTORS® have the tools and capabilities to do showings virtually and they should use these tools during the pandemic.
N12 Evictions During the State of Emergency
During the State of Emergency, OREA has received questions from Members and the general public about a host of landlord/tenant issues.
When the State of Emergency was announced, the Province shut down the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) and stopped all evictions to ensure that no one lost their home during the pandemic. The Province has asked landlords to work with tenants to do the right thing as it relates to non-payment of rent and other issues that could go to the LTB.
That being said, one issue specifically involves whether or not landlords can continue to use N12 notices to evict tenants during the COVID-19 State of Emergency.
OREA has asked the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for guidance on this issue. Here is their response:
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA) is the legislation that governs residential tenancies in Ontario. The RTA establishes the framework for the regulation of rent and security of tenure and provides for the adjudication of disputes and for other processes to informally resolve disputes. The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) is the adjudicative tribunal with the authority to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.
Under the RTA, a landlord can provide notice, using the N12 form, to terminate a tenancy if the landlord, their close family member, or their caregiver intend to move into the rental unit. However, terminating a tenancy requires an order from the LTB.
Landlords wishing to terminate their tenancy for this reason must provide at least 60 days’ notice in the proper form provided by the LTB. The landlord must also provide one month’s rent as compensation or offer the tenant another rental unit acceptable to the tenant. In addition, the landlord must file an affidavit with their application to the LTB to terminate the tenancy for landlord’s own use, stating that they, their family member, or their caregiver, in good faith, intend to occupy the unit for at least one year.
To re-iterate, if a landlord gives a tenant notice to end the tenancy, the tenant does not have to move out. The landlord must apply to the LTB for an order allowing the eviction of the tenant. Under the RTA, every tenant facing eviction has the right to a hearing at the LTB. For more information please see the LTB website here.
In the wake of COVID-19, the Government of Ontario recently announced the halting of all eviction enforcement. The Superior Court of Justice has issued a court order suspending the enforcement of eviction orders. Further, the LTB will not issue any new eviction orders until further notice. For more information, please see the announcement here.
For more information on temporary changes to residential rental processes and where landlords and tenants can get more help, you can visit: Ontario.ca/rent
Please continue to send questions to email@example.com and we will do our best to get you the most up to date and accurate information to help you navigate this pandemic.
Stay safe everyone.
Exerts courtesy of: Sean Morrison, President
Ontario Real Estate Association