by Ray Kar, July 31, 2019
A recent Star article highlights a novel tactic that one “Landlord” is using to attempt to evict seven tenants. George Chiang and Harriet Ho-Yin Chung, recently sold a one percent interest for $9000, to Jacky Bai Jun Liu, in a semi-detached home located near Danforth and Greenwood. The property is duplexed (divided into two separate units). Mr. Liu is a first time home owner. After the transaction was completed, Jacky Bai Jun Liu, now, the “Landlord” of the property served notice to evict the seven tenants who were living in the two units, on the basis that he planned to take possession for personal use. As is required by law, Mr. Liu offered the tenants one months rent ($1900 for the lower floor unit, and $1750 for the upper unit) as compensation for the eviction. Mr. Liu, a Ryerson University student, intends to move into the unit with his friends.According to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), the title of Landlord can belong to somebody who owns part or all of a unit, as properties can have more than one Landlord. It doesn’t specify an amount each individual must own. According to lawyer Caryma Sa’d, who represents both tenants and landlords, speaking generally, that if a group of Landlords are working as a team it could be argued they have equal rights to a property regardless of how much each person owns.
However, when it comes to properties with two units, she says, it would be difficult to make the case that a single individual needed both for personal use simultaneously. The layout of the house, how the units are divided, would also be a factor, she says. The RTA allows Landlords the right to reclaim a property for personal use. They could take the unit for themselves, a spouse, a child or parent, or somebody providing live-in care for any of those people. The specific list of people who are eligible to take possession is tightly restricted, if they Landlord wanted to accommodate a cousin, child of a friend or anybody outside that immediate group they need to find another way to try and gain access.
Devon McKenzie, 24 (pictured), a tenant along with three other tenants occupying the lower unit, intend to fight the eviction at the Landlord Tenant Board. The upstairs tenant, chose to take the Landlord’s offer and plan to move out.
Concerning the hearing, the Star reached out to, Kenn Hale, director of legal services for the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario for comment. According to Hale, the Landlord and Tenant Board members are required, as is outlined in a section of the RTA, to look beyond the forms and determine if the law is being used as it was intended. “This is exactly the kind of thing this section is there for,” Hale says. “This should not be allowed. Somebody with a minor interest should not be held to be a landlord for the purpose of eviction and the board should say that clearly based on the real substance of the transaction.”
How this plays out will be of interest for both Landlords and Tenants.
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