Posts Tagged ‘tenant’

THE TERMINATOR TENANT

Announcement

Ontario Ministry of Housing Gives Birth to New Life-Form.

By Bob Green Innes

It is a melancholy subject for those who walk the corridors of the Landlord Tenant Board to hear the whining of Tenants and the wailing of Landlords, each seeking relief from the other. No matter that each depends on the other, one for shelter and the other for income, these combatants lock in daily struggle thanks to the convoluted, counterproductive workings of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (hereafter called the RTA). The complaints of tenants about greedy landlords are well known, the travails of Landlords (especially individuals) from the machinations of ‘professional’ tenants, virtually unknown. This article seeks to amuse and inform regarding the latter. We start with an amazing discovery.

 Think of Monsanto bringing to life it’s famous (infamous?) genetically engineered Terminator Gene. Think of wizards like Steve Jobs bringing into being new technologies and new drugs. But not since the City of Toronto invented the ubiquitous Salt Storage Dome, has a government in Ontario invented anything but new ways to fleece the taxpayer. Unbeknownst to most, the Ministry of Housing has brought forth what appears to be a whole new life form – the Terminator Tenant.

 As will be explained, the Terminator Tenant promises to revitalize Ontario’s moribund Apartment and Rental sector, which has not seen much new development since Rent Control was first introduced in 1975— as a temporary measure! Thus, apartment buildings, aging like the Gardiner Expressway, slowly crumble. Something had to be done. While Landlords wearily battle the arrival of foreign life forms like bed bugs, and bureaucratic paper forms like a rumored new Licensing ByLaw, they can now rest assured that an unexpected solution to such problems is at hand in the form of the Terminator Tenant.

 Unlike Monsanto, which spent billions in secret labs to perfect their Terminator Gene, the Ministry of Housing had merely to write a few cunning words tucked away in the RTA, to bring forth the Terminator Tenant, or as some prefer, Professional Tenant.  I’ll call it a TT . The TT, in Darwinian fashion, starts from an ordinary person, and morphs, by repeated increments of evolutionary zeal, into an organism that occupies a new biological niche created by the RTA, the space known as the Landlord Tenant Board and its byzantine Appeals Process.

Landlords — I’ll call them LLs– LLs will be pleased they need do nothing to receive their Terminator Tenant. No purchases, forms or inspectors. They just follow their normal routine when renting, blissfully accept the most pleasant applicant imaginable, and wait through an incubation period to see if they have received The Solution.

 The first indicator of luck is usually the elimination of the need to cash rent cheques, since TTs primarily seek a rent-free arrangement. Saves a trip to the bank, (or nowadays, an e-trip). Since no activity is required, ‘e’ or otherwise, no greenhouse gases will be created, salving a conscience that was probably suffering from all the gouging LLs are said to engage in. Not that gouging is allowed – under RTA guidelines, rent increases are held well below reported inflation, which is well below real inflation as a result of a statistical process known as Hedonics. Hedonics is a method gummerments use to ‘improve’ economic reality so they look good. Hedonics may be a new life form in its own right, but that story belongs to ShadowStats.com

 Next on the list of LL benefits is the making of new friends – particularly helpful for spinsterly LandLadies renting out a basement apartment to supplement a pension eaten away by real  (non-hedonic) inflation.  Social isolation is bad, and the Ministry of Happiness, er Housing, has thoughtfully set up a special Department of Friends they call the LTB (Landlord Tenant Board). Here’s an idea of how the process works.

 Friendly attendants direct one to a comfortable seat, one waits, number in hand for a smiling clerk behind a glass barrier to relieve you of $170– if you’ll please allow me to place you, gentle reader in the LL’s shoes for a moment. You’ll be given polite instructions, that your frazzled, rent-starved brain probably won’t remember, about what you have to do before you can meet your most important new friend, the adjudicator, also called A Member, (a relation to Bill Clinton?) who will rule on the matter.

 First, you must prepare and serve an N4 notice per exacting legal specifications. Some LLs get so excited, that they do it again and again, trying to get it right, which is why I like to refer to this process as dance steps, each of which entails a rentless two week turnaround.

 While waiting for your N4 notification to time out, you the landlord, no longer encumbered by odious banking duties, are able to pursue more pleasant activities. Studies have shown that most take up cooking, or more precisely, stewing, another term for which is boiling. The most popular dishes reported are ‘Boiling Mad’ and ‘Landlord’s Beef’.  Sometimes, it is ‘Whining Foul’, a dish preferred by chickens, or ‘Tongue Stew’ whose main ingredient is you, if your your tongue fell off if you bit it while communicating with your TT.

 After the N4 period terminates, comes another hurdle called the L1, a new opportunity for paying ($170) and stewing. but which is the actual application to for you and the TT to meet with the Member.

 Not to be outdone by Monsanto, which offers special Terminator Genes for wheat,  barley, etc. the Ministry of Housing and it’s boss, The Honourable Linda Jeffrey, boasts a variety of preliminary dance steps… N5, N13, etc. plus multiple variations on the L-theme too– 17 Ns and Ls to choose from! Oldtimers will liken this to the dance card system of yesteryear.

LLs who find all these N and L-dances confusing can hire a professional, called a Paralegal, a new friend you’ll cling to for dear life. They’re kind of a hybrid cook-dancer and their specialty is called LousyLord’s Butt, which they will save for another day.

Your Terminator Tenant is given, at taxpayer expense, his/her own appointed friend called Duty Counsel, who specializes in adding ‘hot spice’ to prolong your stewing. Their spice rack includes such favs as missed maintenance, unannounced visits, changed locks, harassment and anything else they can think of. Or the TT might summon a new friend for you– the city inspector! You two can become acquainted as he crawls around looking for something to distract you from your rentlessness There’s gotta be something somewhere.

 An immediate penalty for not paying rent? Perish the thought. In fact, some jurisdictions (Guelph, Barrie, Newmarket), have pilot programs established to bolster TT’s mettle– the rent actually gets paid by us, the taxpayer. Bliss for all. You’ll soon find out whether that solved your problem or whether you’ve got a real TT, in which case, you’ll be repeating the foregoing.

 At this point, gentle Reader, you may be getting a little overwhelmed at the thought of all these benefits for LLs. If you can’t contain your excitement and want to let the gummerment know how pleased you are, just scroll to the end. Or if you, like this humble scribe, can’t get enough, please remain in the shoes of the LandLord to find out what will become of you.

 After the N and L dances are completed, you’ll be ready for your meeting with your Member, at a most magnificent affair, called a Hearing. A Hearing is supposed to culminate in the issuance of something called an Order. Here is where you find how developed your TT is. Partially evolved members of the species, whose vestiges of conscience interfere with their objective of living rent-free, might slink away– insiders affectionately call this the Midnight Move.

 In the hands of a fully fledged TT, however, the order transmutes to a decorative item, like the Order of the Garter using such stratagems as new locks and/or their own appeal ‘dance’ forms (10 ‘T’-forms to chose from) to thwart an upstart LL. Accordingly, you, the LL will be pleased to receive a notice, either inviting you to another adjudicated hearing, or an appeal to an entirely new friend at a different place called Divisional Court. You’ll have to wait, (rentless of course) so you’ll have plenty of time for stewing. Or maybe you can learn a new N-dance if your paralegal partner can suggest something. And if it’s the Divisional thing, you’ll find your bank account so much smaller, it’ll hardly be worth bothering with any more. What a relief!

 TTs vary in hardiness. Some, like my specimen, MM, live rent free a modest quarter or so, others like a well documented Nina Willis, count in years, in which case, you, the Luckiest Lord (also abbreviates to LL) will happily enjoy the entertainment, as Paralegals and Lawyers lock in Darwinian struggle with the Terminator Tenant, watched over by your friendly Members, Judges and a crowd of spectators (potential friends everywhere!) This merry-go-round is fed by you and will reduce you to a prune better than any government approved weight loss program. Are you counting the benefits? If you are a bit confused by all this, click for a flow chart illustrating the 17 easy dance steps, not counting repeats or the Divisional thing!

 If you worried your benefits were exhausted, you might be pleased to discover another in store – something called a Stay, a specialty of the Appeal Process – the heart of the new evolutionary space. A stay is not something ladies used to wear, it’s more like a Monopoly card that reads: ‘Tenant just thought of something, Skip around the board, Collect no Rent and Pay Charges all over Again’. Fun and games in the Appeals Space as the TT tries some other novel trick. Anything one can imagine, based on any little flaw in the entire situation. Willis was said to excel at this, winning extra innings time after time. Blue Jays take note.

 At last though, you must bid your Terminator Tenant adieu, according to a special ‘Termination Order ex parte’ you both received (absent an appeal) But not before one last extravaganza performed by a spanking new friend – The Sheriff. After waiting out a new 2 week interval (rentless stewing and paying included), the day comes when some burly fellows arrive to dance a final dance with your Terminator Tenant. Do not shed a tear, thinking it’s over. No! You’ll have one final opportunity for stewing during a breathless 72 hour period the TT is given to clear out any belongings. Can you imagine the rapture as you two meet again!!?? Sigh.

 Never mind. You can do it all over again. Just pick up the garbage usually left behind, fix any tenant tantrum targets, hang out the for-rent sign and look like a wee, bent up Little Lord (abbreviates to LL as before)!

 But normally, as my paralegal SS reports, one TT usually suffices. The unit, which once was a statistic in something called Ontario’s Rental Housing Stock, may well have to be retired, perhaps damaged beyond repair, or which you now realize has a flaw called a ‘TT flaw’ or ‘TT Bait’, since the smart ones know all the codes and rules.

 In their post TT glow, Paralegal SS says that many LLs happily retire from gouging*.  That’s The Solution, isn’t it!  If they actually want the long lost rent, they’ll have to get help from the Minister of the Attorney General and another group of friends at Small Claims Court, a whole new process to enjoy. No danger of loneliness, eh!

 TTs benefit the public weal. Removal of another rental unit from The Rental Stock, will bolster the long standing market shift to condos, so builders and corporations will be happy. The removal of a small LL will make the Big LLs happy. The Ministry of Happiness along with the accompanying band of professional dancers, will be happy since their Department of L TB Friends will record another happy resolution. Tenants will be happy that they’ll no longer have to look upon the gouging prune the LL became, and will cheer their swashbuckling hero worming its way through all the little LLs who had the temerity to actually charge rent. After all, little bugs, Little Lords (and little shopkeepers too) must be stamped out; we now live in a big new corporate world, and what is new, is always better, yes?

 It’s hard to know just how to end such a happy tale, but I hear the local shelter has a nice meditation mat. Brought to us by none other than the same Ministry of Happiness, er, Housing that, with just a few cunning words, brought rent-free housing to tenants of the land. I’m sure many of us will eventually get there the way things are going in Ontario– ‘yours to discover‘!

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* SS reports that, of his clients alone, approximately 100 evaporate every year. SS doesn’t know what becomes of them after leaving Lording, but one could surmise, based on the evidence presented, that being tongueless, they either continue stewing with a vengeance, or they take up oyster diving on account of their newly developed ability to hold their breath for long periods of time. Darwin would be pleased.

 Update: Social and genetic scientists are teaming up to determine if the TT is a true separate species, or is the result of a parasitic alteration of behaviour, which might better explain their rapid development in a single generation. This has implications for gummerment and corporations, since it implies curability, which could undermine all the benefits outlined.

 Coming soon: Sequel that will explore detail economics of this development using methodology initiated by Jonathan Swift in ‘A Modest Proposal’ (1729), which unintentionally foreshadowed the ultimate consequence of our present policies. You might have noticed that I borrowed the first few words from Mr. Swift. Thanks John.

 Follow up: To let the gummerment know how pleased you are with all the benefits derived at minimal public expense, please contact (2013):

The Honourable Minister Linda Jeffrey

Municipal Affairs and Housing

777 Bay Street, 17th Floor

Toronto, ON M5G 2E5

Phone: 416-585-7000 or 1-866-220-2290 (toll free)

Fax: 416-585-6470

If you’re really enthused, here is a formal link to petition the government:

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How to Petition the Government of Ontario

http://www.ontariotenants.ca/government/petition.phtml

Residents of the Province of Ontario have the right to petition their legislators at Queen’s Park.

link from http://ontariolandlords.org/government/

A petition is a request that the Parliament of Ontario take some specific action (or refrain from taking some action) to redress a public grievance. The action requested must be within the scope of jurisdiction of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, and the request must be clear, temperate, proper and respectful.