The Ontario Court of Appeal set aside the Superior Court’s Order requiring the Appellants to vacate a residential premises, on the basis that the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal had exclusive jurisdiction to make such an Order

Administrative law – Landlord and tenant – Residential tenancy agreements – Termination – Judicial review – Jurisdiction of court – Remedies – Injunctions – Availability

Beach v. Mofatt, [2005] O.J. No. 1722, Ontario Court of Appeal, May 3, 2005, M.A. Catzman, M. Rosenberg and R.G. Juriansz JJ.A.

The Appellants were the residential tenants of an illegal rooming house in Ottawa. The Respondents were their neighbours who brought an action against the landlords of the rooming house seeking damages for nuisance and for an interim and final injunction restraining them from operating the rooming house. The neighbours’ action against the Defendant landlords was settled upon the Defendants consenting to an injunction enjoining them from using the property as a rooming house. The tenants had no notice of the action or the injunction.

The Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal later refused the landlord’s application for an Order terminating the Appellant’s tenancies. Faced with the continued operation of the rooming house, the neighbours returned to the Superior Court, on notice to the tenants, and obtained an Order requiring the tenants to vacate the rooming house approximately one month later. The tenants appealed the granting of that Order on the basis that the Superior Court lacked the jurisdiction to make it.

The Court of Appeal held that while the Superior Court of Justice has broad jurisdiction to grant an injunction, that jurisdiction was not fixed and it had long been settled that the jurisdiction of a Superior Court may be limited by statute. The Court of Appeal considered whether the Tenant Protection Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 24, unequivocally indicated the Legislature’s intent to limit the Court’s jurisdiction to make an Order evicting a residential tenant. The Court considered the various terms and definitions in the Act and considered that it did apply to the relationship between the landlords and the tenants in this case.

The Court did not accept the neighbours’ argument that the Act governed only relationships between landlords and tenants and did not contemplate relationships between neighbours or municipal authorities on one side and landlords and tenants on the other. Several sections of the Act underlined the supremacy of the Act and the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tribunal in determining all applications under the Act, and with respect to all matters in which jurisdiction was conferred on it by the Act.

The Court was satisfied that the combined effect of these provisions was to oust the jurisdiction of the Superior Court to make an Order requiring the tenants to vacate the premises. The Act clearly provided that only the Tribunal may make an Order terminating a tenancy and evicting a tenant.

The Court also rejected the neighbours’ submission that this result left them without a remedy. It remained within the Superior Court’s jurisdiction to restrain behaviour that constituted a nuisance. Also, it was still open to the landlord to secure the tenant’s eviction under the Act.

In the result, the Superior Court’s Order for the eviction of the tenants was set aside.

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