Ont. Superior Court orders tenant to vacate housing despite ongoing human rights tribunal dispute

Tenant agreed to the temporary housing and had no legal basis to continue occupying the unit

Ont. Superior Court orders tenant to vacate housing despite ongoing human rights tribunal dispute

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that a tenant must vacate temporary accommodation provided by a not-for-profit housing corporation, despite the tenant's refusal to leave and ongoing housing condition disputes before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

The applicant, a non-profit organization providing affordable housing in Ottawa's Centretown District, brought the case against a tenant of a one-bedroom unit at Argyle Avenue. The tenant, who has a complex illness affecting her immune system, claimed the unit was unsuitable due to mould and airborne particulates. The tenant's condition qualifies as a disability under the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC), requiring the landlord to make reasonable accommodations.

Since the tenant moved in in 2021, both parties have attempted to address the health concerns. Despite remediation efforts by the landlord, the tenant deemed these measures insufficient and filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. In the meantime, temporary accommodation was provided at the unit under an agreement explicitly stating it was not a tenancy and that the tenant would vacate the unit when the agreement expired. However, the tenant refused to leave.

The court's task was to determine whether the tenant was trespassing and whether the landlord was entitled to reclaim possession of the Arlington property. The tenant argued that retaining both units was necessary to accommodate her disability. The Superior Court concluded that it had jurisdiction over the matter and found that the tenant could not use the OHRC complaint to justify occupying the second unit beyond the temporary agreement.

The judge emphasized that the tenant had agreed to the temporary arrangement and had no legal basis to continue occupying the Arlington unit. The duty to accommodate under the OHRC does not extend to allowing the tenant to indefinitely occupy a second unit, especially given the housing corporation's mandate and the cost implications of removing a unit from its inventory.

The court ordered the tenant to vacate the Arlington property within 30 days, allowing the tenant to make alternative arrangements or reach an agreement with the housing corporation. If the tenant fails to comply, the landlord will be entitled to a writ of possession.

The court’s decision highlighted the limits of the duty to accommodate under the OHRC and reinforced the need for tenants to honour temporary housing agreements while broader disputes are resolved. The tenant's original complaint regarding the Argyle property remains before the Human Rights Tribunal.

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