LS v YouthLink Youth Services [transitional housing eviction]
Court: Court of Appeal for Ontario, 2022
In March 2020, LS was evicted by Youthlink Youth Services. She had been living at Youthlink’s transitional housing program, a type of supportive housing that provides residents with a place to live for at least one year, as well as supports to help them build the skills needed to transition to adulthood and to obtain more independent, long-term housing.
Youthlink’s agreement with its residents failed to provide any procedural protections against sudden evictions. There was no notice, no opportunity to resolve the dispute, no appeal option and no support in finding alternative accommodation. As a result, the eviction led to police involvement and long term housing instability for LS.
JFCY appealed the eviction to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), arguing that a recent amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) required Youthlink to have a robust occupancy agreement that protects tenant’s basic procedural rights in order to be exempt from the RTA. The LTB disagreed, as did the Divisional Court. Both found Youthlink was exempt from the RTA under a different provision that did not require a robust occupancy agreement.
On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the Court again allowed Youthlink to be exempt from the RTA.
The Court of Appeal was very concerned that transitional housing providers be given the greatest freedom and ability to control their own processes, even when they are working with the province’s most vulnerable tenants. In doing s,o JFCY believes that the Court missed an opportunity to protect and uphold the right of tenants in transitional housing programs to protective occupancy agreements to prevent sudden and unfair evictions from transitional housing. Transitional housing programs are often the first step away from homelessness, and without such housing young people often have no other options. JFCY continues to engage in further advocacy and law reform efforts on this issue, including engaging directly with transitional housing providers on this issue.
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