If Someone Is Misusing the Landlord Tenant Board Processes, Can Something Be Done?
When a Person, Such as a Tenant (But Equally a Landlord) Misuses the Landlord Tenant Board Processes Merely As a Tool of Harassment, the Landlord Tenant Board May Declare That Person a Vexatious Litigant and Require Screening of Any Further Processes.
Similar Questions About Misuse of Process Include:
- Does a Tenant Have a Right to Keep Bringing Applications?
- What Can the Landlord Tenant Board Do to Cease Misuse of Process?
- What Stops Harassment By Applications?
- How Can a Landlord Prevent a Tenant From Bringing Endless Applications?
- Can a Tenant Harass a Landlord With Landlord Tenant Board Applications?
Understanding What Can Be Done About Misuse of the Landlord Tenant Board Processes
When a party is repeatedly attacked by another party via unfruitful and malicious legal proceedings, the attacking party may be declared as a vexatious litigant. This may occur in the context of almost any type of legal process including procedures heard by the Landlord Tenant Board. Where it becomes apparent that a landlord or tenant is being subjected to legal proceedings commenced in the Landlord Tenant Board merely as a form of harassment, the party misusing the process may be declared by the Landlord Tenant Board as a vexatious litigant.
The authority for the Landlord Tenant Board to declare a party as a vexatious litigant is provided via the Common Rules for matters applicable to tribunals comprising the Social Justice Tribunals of Ontario of which the Landlord Tenant Board is such a tribunal. The Landlord Tenant Board confirmed such authority within the matter of D.M. v. P.M., et al, TST-69169-15 (Re), 2016 CanLII 69271 where it was said:
57. Rule A8 of the Social Justice Tribunals of Ontario Common Rules (the ‘Common Rules’), which are now part of the Board’s Rules of Practice, reads as follows:
A8.1 The tribunal may make such orders or give such directions in proceedings before it as it considers proper to prevent abuse of its processes.
A8.2 Where the tribunal finds that a person has persistently instituted vexatious proceedings or conducted a proceeding in a vexatious manner, the tribunal may find that person to be a vexatious litigant and dismiss the proceeding as an abuse of process for that reason. It may also require a person found to be a vexatious litigant to obtain permission from the tribunal to commence further proceedings or take further steps in a proceeding.
Interestingly, within the D.M. matter it is mentioned that one of the proceedings commenced against the landlord(s) occurred when the tenant failed to receive a gift card during the holiday season. Specifically, it was said:
39. This T2 application was filed on December 25, 2015. In it the Tenant alleged that the Landlord harassed the Tenant and substantially interfered with his reasonable enjoyment of the residential complex and rental unit by failing to give the Tenant a gift card for the holiday season. This application was dismissed by an order issued on April 7, 2016.
In D.M., the Landlord Tenant Board summarized many of the warrantless Applications brought against the Landlord by the Tenant. In the end, the Landlord Tenant Board stated that while each Application when reviewed individually may be less than enough to deem and declare the tenant as a vexatious litigant, when taken collectively, the conduct of the tenant was abusive of the Landlord Tenant Board procedure and was used as a method of harassing the landlord. Specifically it was said:
91. When considered individually, the different categories of conduct analyzed above may not, each on their own, give rise to a finding that the Tenant is a vexatious litigant. For example, the fact that there were two orders in which the Tenant was found not credible would not support such a finding. However, considering in conjunction the volume of applications in which the Tenant has been directly or indirectly involved, along with the number of withdrawn applications, the applications that lacked sufficient merit, the negative credibility findings, the failures to pay costs and the re-litigated issues, I am satisfied, on an objective standard, that the Tenant’s conduct in proceedings at the Board has been vexatious. The fact that the Tenant has filed or involved himself in so many proceedings against the Landlord (and not succeeded in any of them), coupled with the fact that the Tenant has committed several abuses of process and engaged in several kinds of vexatious behaviour, is what has led me to the conclusion that he is a vexatious litigant.
Once declared a vexatious litigant, the tenant in D.M. was thereafter required to apply for permission to commence any further proceedings against the landlord. The issued Order stated:
2. The Tenant is declared to be a vexatious litigant. The Tenant is required to obtain permission from the Board to start any proceedings or to take any further steps in any proceedings before the Board. Any request that the Tenant makes for such permission shall explain the merits of the allegations or the reasons for further steps. The request shall be made in the form of a submission to the Vice Chair of the regional office at which the application is submitted and shall not exceed five pages in length (double spaced).
Accordingly, when a landlord (or equally a tenant) is abused or harassed by misuse of the Landlord Tenant Board processes, the victimized party may seek an Order declaring the harassing party as a vexatious litigant.
When a party commences repeated legal process for the apparent purpose of harassing the opposing party, rather than for the genuine purpose of the process, that party may be declared a vexatious litigant. Once declared a vexatious litigant, the harassing party will thereafter be required to apply for special permission to commence further legal proceedings.