Photo of two ACORN protestors attending a demonstration in front of the Sobey's in the Bridgeport Plaza to decry the rising price of food in the region.


The ACORN Tenant Union, a member-led, grassroots organization, recently obtained eviction data through a Freedom of Information request. They asked for the number of applications filed with the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) for “no fault” eviction notifications. 

Across Ontario 20,541 N12 and N13 “no-fault eviction notices” were filed between 2017 and 2021, representing a 77 per cent  increase in five years. An N12 is a notice for evicting tenants when the landlord, a purchaser or a family member needs to use the rental unit. An N13 notice is given when the landlord needs to either demolish or perform extensive renovations on a unit.  

The tenants have the legal burden to explain their disagreement with the  intent of the eviction notice to the LTB. Placing the legal burden on tenants to provide proof that their landlord is likely to be attempting to circumvent the intent of the RTA provides the illusion of fairness in the system. It’s unlikely that systemic factors will align to allow tenants to remain housed. It has allowed both governments and tenant advocacy groups to frame the problem of evictions as “tenants not knowing their rights”, diverting attention from the in-practice reality which lacks mechanisms, or practices which make real attempts to uphold those rights. 

Tribunals Ontario, which oversees the LTB, claimed in 2021 that their digital-first approach is going to “enhance access to justice” and “meet the diverse needs of Ontarians and enhance the quality of its dispute resolution services”. 

A true “digital-first” system could facilitate these aims—but it would also require a fundamental re-thinking and restructuring of the way existing “tenant protections” in the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) are implemented. 

First, the landlord would need to prove they are  going to do the work, and it requires a permit and vacancy to do the work. 

The right to return lacks accountability mechanisms to get tenants back into their unit. If the landlord had to present this plan in advance, with a timeline – and that’s available to the tenant to be seen online. 

That shows “good faith” 

As it is, there is no plan, no contact info, no time line.  

A digital system allows for tracking and searching. There would also be more data on displacement, which the paper system circumvents. 

A system that “ensures the propriety of evictions” by ensuring that the spirit and letter of RTA law are consistently complied with, in full, would be a key component of “access to justice”. The ‘Lived Experience of Evictions in Canada’  a 2023 study paper from UPGo at McGill University, for the CMHC outlines how this can be best achieved by inverting the existing system for a “model of proactive authorization”.  

“Landlords would need to establish just cause for an eviction before any proceedings could begin” the report reads.   

Currently, it is not necessary to obtain permits prior to issuing the N13 notice, but  permits or other authorizations must be obtained prior to the LTB hearing.  

Tribunals Ontario explains that the digital portal will streamline the “exchange [of] documents with other parties” enabling “uploading and viewing evidence online anytime” making it simple to show tenants the permit which has been obtained. 

After receiving complete and accurate applications with all relevant proof – the LTB would review a landlords eviction application. It would be the LTB, then, that officially notifies the tenant of the landlord’s plans—with officially approved timelines and the required compensation in accordance with the RTA. Notification by the LTB would ensure that all eviction orders are tracked — immediately, and through the entire process— including the plans and timeline for the tenant’s “right to return” which will be required for the application to be considered.  

This proposal addresses exploitation of bad-faith evictions by ensuring the application is in full and complete compliance with the RTA, which would reduce the number of applications filed. Ensuring the only hearings being held are those with compliant cases further reduces the number of hearings required and expedites those which are.  

The current system requires tenants to challenge an application. It prioritizes the desires of landlords, by telling tenants they can challenge an application if they believe it to be in bad-faith, or believe that their right to return will not be upheld.  

While the RTA states a tenant will be granted right to return, the LTB can’t enforce it if the landlord moves in another tenant, nor are they making use of the increased fines for bad-faith evictions. Fines have only been levied a few times and none come close to being a deterrent – as they are quickly recouped with increased rents.  

What is currently taking place is a mash-up of digital technology, superimposed on an antiquated legacy system that facilitates bad faith evictions. In 2021, CBC asked why the outcomes of eviction applications were not tracked.  

“This is due in part to its historical programming and in part due to the wide variety of orders made at hearings — they are not simply eviction granted or denied,” an LTB spokesperson stated.  

The current system lacks accountability measures. An L2 is the first trackable data the LTB gets about an eviction—and it costs the landlord to file it. If the proactive authorization model were adopted, this would be the first step — eliminating the untrackable, unverified Notification of Termination of Tenancy, and doing much of the verification of compliance that the system currently burdens the tenant with asking for. This existing system provides landlords ample time to try to bypass paying the fee to file an application using informal and semi-formal tactics Common practice involves exhausting tenants with misleading claims, harassment, cutting costs by not doing repairs, and keeping the building in a state of perpetual construction while adding fees and extra charges, then offering “cash for keys” or “buyouts.” 

A landlord can choose to apply for eviction immediately using the L2 or wait up to 30 days after the termination date shown. Since a N13 requires providing at least 120 days’ notice, this allows five months or more after the tenant has a Notice of Termination slipped under their door – by which time the form plainly seems to state the tenant must already have moved out.  

In addition to avoiding the application fee, and possibly speeding up the eviction process – they circumvent any need to disclose this N12 or N13, when applying for N12 or N13 in the next two years.  

Canada’s  ‘National Housing Strategy Act,’  2019 committed all levels of government to the progressive realization of  the right to adequate housing. “Adequate” is complex, but it requires that housing is both affordable – does not infringe on the ability to afford other needs, and provides “security of tenure.”  Martine August’s 2022 report to The Office of the Federal Housing Advocate (FHA)  calls on municipalities to “Develop landlord licensing to track renovictions and demovictions, identify bad landlords, and enable enforcement of building standards; revoke the licences of non-compliant actors”.  

Gallié’s report to the FHA Eviction and International Obligations: Security of Tenure in Canada points to the necessity of an eviction prevention strategy, with the first, minimal,  step for the government to document evictions.  

Lynn Inniti is an organizer with ACORN Waterloo Region.