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What should I do to prepare for an eviction hearing?

If you cannot stop the eviction application from going ahead, then you will have to prepare for the hearing.

You might need to arrange for witnesses to come to the hearing. You might need to make copies of papers or photographs you want to use at the hearing.

You must get to the hearing on time and you will have to stay at the hearing until it is finished.

If the hearing is on a day that you can't go

It is very important that you go to the hearing. If you know you won't be able to go, you can try to have the hearing rescheduled to a later date. You must ask the Board in writing, no later than noon the day before the hearing. You should first ask the landlord or the landlord's lawyer if they will agree to change the hearing date. If they do not agree, the Board might not change the date.

If you can't go to the hearing and you can't get the date changed, send someone to the hearing to represent you. Write a note that says you give that person permission to represent you, and sign the note. Give them the note and make sure they take it with them to the hearing.

If you do not do any of those things and you miss the hearing, or if you arrive late, the Board will probably make an eviction order against you.

If the hearing is on a day that your lawyer or legal worker can't go

If you were able to get a lawyer or legal worker to represent you, but they cannot come to the Board with you on the hearing day, you can ask the Board to reschedule the hearing. If you do not hear from the Board that the hearing has been rescheduled, you must go to the hearing and ask the Board member to postpone the hearing to a later date so that you can come back with your lawyer or legal worker.

Tenant Duty Counsel are lawyers and legal workers who work at the Board or who come to the Board on hearing days. They can usually help you tell the Board that you need to have the hearing postponed for this reason. This is called asking for an adjournment.

If you need an interpreter

If you need help with English at the hearing, the Board can provide an interpreter. The Board only provides interpreters in French and American Sign Language. It does not cost you anything to use one of these interpreters. If you need an interpreter, tell the Board in writing as soon as possible.

If you use a different language, you will have to get an interpreter on your own. You could go to a community agency that offers services to people who speak your language. Or if you have a friend or family member who speaks both English and your language, ask if they can come with you to the hearing.

If you speak French, you might have the right to get other services from the Board in French.

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1. Get legal help

It's important to try to get legal help as soon as possible. If you leave this until the last minute, the Board might not give you extra time to look for help.

Here are some places to look for help to prepare for your Board hearing:

If you have a low income, you can call your local community legal clinic and try to make an appointment to discuss your situation. Be sure to tell the clinic that you have an eviction application against you.

If you can't get help from a community legal clinic, you can contact the Law Society Lawyer Referral Service for a free half hour consultation with a lawyer or licensed paralegal. Or you can contact JusticeNet, a non-profit organization that can connect you with a lawyer or licensed paralegal who has agreed to work for reduced fees.

If you live in a city where there is a Board regional office, and you can't find legal help, you may be able to speak to Tenant Duty Counsel. But they are usually busy helping tenants who have eviction hearings that day and they might not have time to talk to you.

The Landlord and Tenant Board website has some information that can help you be prepared for the hearing.

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2. Collect evidence to present at the hearing

At the hearing, if you and your landlord don't agree, part of the Board member's job is to decide what really happened. The Board member must do this based on evidence that you and your landlord present at the hearing.

There are different kinds of evidence.

Documents

Some examples of documents are:

  • letters
  • receipts
  • bank statements
  • cancelled cheques
  • inspectors' reports
  • work orders
  • repair estimates
  • photographs

If you plan to bring documents like these to the hearing, you must make 3 copies so that you can give one to the Board member, one to your landlord, and keep one for yourself. If your hearing is going to be by telephone, you must send copies of the documents to the Board and your landlord before the hearing.

Evidence on a computer, cellphone, or camera

If you have a document or photo on a computer, cellphone, or camera, you should print 3 copies for the hearing.

If your evidence is a video or sound recording, you must make sure that you will be able to play the recording at the hearing. The Board member will probably not look at a video on a cellphone screen, so make sure you transfer it to a computer disk or have some other way to play it at the hearing.

Contact the Board in advance to ask what types of media and formats they can play at the hearing. You might have to ask for a computer to be available at the hearing or bring your own computer.

Witnesses

Witnesses are people who come to the hearing and tell what they know about what happened. This is another way of giving evidence. Witnesses must promise to tell the truth at the hearing.

You and your landlord can also be witnesses at the hearing.

If there is someone else you want to be a witness, you can ask them to come. If they do not agree or if you are not sure they will come, you can ask the Board to issue a summons. A summons is a document that tells a witness that they must come to the hearing.

Usually, the police, building inspectors, and other officials cannot go to a hearing as witnesses unless they are given a summons.

If you need a summons, you should ask the Board for it as soon as you can. You have to give the summons to the witness in person. And you have to pay the witness when they come to the hearing.

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3. Make notes about what you want to say at your hearing

It's a good idea to make notes about what you want to tell the Board before your hearing day. If possible, practice what you are going to say.

Think about how the evidence you are bringing will help prove your version of the facts. And think about what questions you can ask the witnesses to prove your version of the facts.

Plan how you can use your evidence to show that your landlord's evidence isn't believable or that it doesn't prove that there is a legal reason to evict you.

If your eviction hearing is happening because you owe rent, think about what types of payments you can make to bring down the amount of rent that you owe. The Board will expect you to pay your monthly rent on time as well as make payments toward the rent you owe.

Some Board regional offices hold regular hearings. If you live nearby, it's a good idea to go watch some hearings before your own hearing day. This can give you an idea of what to expect at your hearing and how people present their cases to the Board.

There are Board regional offices in Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Mississauga, and three locations in Toronto.

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4. Make plans for getting to the hearing early with everything you need

It's important to get to the hearing early with everything that you need to present your case. And you must be able to spend up to a whole day at the hearing.

At least one day before the hearing, make sure you have enough copies of any papers or photos you want to use as evidence. And make sure you have a way to play any sound or video recordings you want to use.

It's best to arrive at the Board at least one hour before your hearing time. This will give you the chance to speak with tenant duty counsel if you don't already have a lawyer or legal worker to help you, and to sign up for mediation if you want to.

Leave plenty of time to get to the Board location. The Board does not usually accept traffic jams or public transit delays as an excuse for missing your hearing.

Try to make sure that you have the whole day free for the hearing. Even if your hearing is scheduled in the morning, you might have to stay for the afternoon. This can mean you might have to:

  • make arrangements for child care
  • get time off from work or your other responsibilities
  • bring any medication you need to take during the day
  • bring any food you will need if you have a condition that means you need to eat at specific times

If you have a video or telephone hearing, you should check to see if Tenant Duty Counsel is available. If they are you should call in at least 20 minutes in advance so that you have the chance to speak with them before the hearing.

It's very important to be on time for your hearing. If you miss your hearing, the Board will probably evict you without hearing your side.

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Reviewed: 
December, 2015

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