A material update from EOLO which we wish to share with our members:
OCTOBER 28, 2020
City of Ottawa calls for
provincial action for tenants
Background – eviction moratorium sought originally
On October 22, the City of Ottawa’s Community and Protective Services Committee (CPSC) considered a report on measures responding to COVID-19. Councillor McKenney introduced a motion recommending to City Council that Council call on the province to ban all residential rental evictions, except in case of threats to public safety, until the COVID-19 pandemic is effectively contained. No reference was made to getting tenants financial support. At the end of a long meeting, CPSC carried that motion without any opposition.
Note that the motion wouldn’t actually do anything on its own, because the eviction rules are not within the City’s jurisdiction, and the Province is likely to ignore the motion. That is probably why the three Councillors on CPSC who are generally friendly to landlords did not oppose the motion. However, for landlords, it is important to stop or minimize such municipal motions, in order to avoid or reduce pressure on the Province to bring in a renewed eviction moratorium/
EOLO learned of the motion and acted to oppose the motion and to minimize the impact of the motion.
The outcome today
A revised motion was passed at City Council today. It calls on the Province a) to ensure tenants have the money to pay their rents; b) to hold off on a social assistance clawback; and, c) failing a) and b), to bring in an eviction moratorium for tenants who lack the ability to pay their rent.
That change means that if the motion were actually acted on (which is unlikely), then evictions could still continue for:
1. bad behaviour,
2. agreements to terminate,
3. tenant notices of termination,
4. demolitions, conversions and major repairs
5. personal use, and
6. refusal to pay.
Tenants who have refused could tell the LTB that they lack the ability to pay, but at least landlords could take them to the LTB, and they would have to provide evidence of their inability to pay. That would not be ideal, but it would be much better than not having any of those eviction grounds to work with.
Opposing the motion
Last week, EOLO reached out to Mayor Watson and to 15 Councillors. EOLO Chair John Dickie sent them a four page submission from EOLO arguing the following points:
• Why there should not be a general eviction moratorium
o 1.1 Bad behaviour situations
o 2.1 Personal use
o 3.1 Refusals to pay (That was needed in case Councillor McKenney did not deliver on the promised revised motion.)
• Why there should not be an eviction moratorium in favour of people who cannot pay
o 5.1 Lack of need for the measure
o 6.1 Disincentive to responsible tenants
o 7.1 Unfairness to the affected landlords (and negative impact on the rental supply)
• What should be done.
On behalf of EOLO, John Dickie asked them to approve clauses a) and b) in the revised motion, but to delete clause c), the moratorium request.
John Dickie also worked with Councillors to seek the change of the original motion to the revised motion. There was no or virtually no media attention paid to the original motion. It appeared to EOLO Board that a quiet resolution would be better for landlords than a noisy fight.
For that reason, EOLO did not reach out to mobilize members or to ask you to communicate with Councillors or with Mayor Watson. If the Province moves toward a renewed eviction moratorium, that will be the time to mobilize every landlord.
While a defeat of any call for an eviction moratorium would have been even better, the revised motion we obtained is a major improvement on the original motion. The revised motion asks for a less extensive moratorium, and puts the focus where it belongs, namely on getting financial help to tenants affected by COVID-19, so that they can pay their rents.
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