September 13, 2020

I started this blog both to document the difficulties a tenant faces trying to enforce the law. It had become very clear to me over the previous decade that there were some fundamental inequities in the landlord tenant relationship (to put it mildly) in downtown Hamilton.

So I documented it online.

Along the way I’ve some to a few conclusions about the effectiveness of the Landlord and Tenant Board (both as an adjudicative body and as an effective means for a tenant to enforce rights under the law) the effectiveness of Municipal Law Enforcement at curbing landlord misbehavior, the contributions made to the current housing crisis in Hamilton by the ineffectiveness of the LTB and MLE, and the ongoing gong-show (shitshow? bullying douchebaggery? neo-facist sellouts? It’s hard to find the right label…) that passes for city government in Hamilton.

My conclusions about Municipal Law Enforcement are as follows:

  1. They are completely unsympathetic to any tenant complaint. They are unable to action most of them, as they are hampered by ineffective and vague Property Standards bylaws.
  2. They are unwilling to enforce compliance orders, and will routinely grant extensions to a landlord for almost any reason. Even if they have personally witnessed the landlord bullying and intimidating tenants, they will still not enforce compliance orders by using the tools available (ie: fines, using city contractors to do the work, enforcing a reasonable standard of workmanship on the repairs).
  3. They have little knowledge of, or respect for, a tenants rights under the RTA. Some of them have no respect for tenants, period.

My conclusions about Hamilton City Council are as follows:

  1. They serve the taxpayers interest, not the citizens. They do that by serving their own interests first, in some cases.
  2. Many of them are bullying douchebags, using populist (and sometimes downright facist) memes to undermine what’s left of out social safety net. A few aren’t.
  3. They neither listen to, nor respect, any opinion that differs from their own. Their opinions are frequently informed by the interests of large landlords and other business in the city. They frequently conflate “Good for the City” with “Good for Business”.

My conclusions about the Landlord Tenant Board are as follows:

  1. It is biased against self-represented litigants, and that bias usually manifests as a bias against tenants (who are far more likely to be self represented). They appear to be most interested in maintaining a landlord’s income; a dispute over unpaid rent is the only kind of application that receives any urgency. (And this has become blatantly obvious since the pandemic).
  2. The statement on the Tribunals Ontario website “People who appear before our tribunals have a right to fair and accessible dispute resolution, and that is our primary commitment to you” is an Orwellian lie. If that is indeed their primary commitment, they have failed utterly for tenants and landlords both.
  3. Natural justice (as defined as a fair and impartial hearing before and unbiased adjudicator) is unknown there. This is not entirely the Members’ fault. They have far too few resources to do more than rubber stamp evictions for unpaid rent, and try and keep the system from collapsing entirely. If your matter is complicated, it won’t be heard.
  4. The system is ridiculously easy to abuse, for landlords and tenants both. Based on my own observation of any number of LTB hearings over the last three years, it is clear to me that the most egregious abuses of the system are by landlords. This has been made possible in part because of a popular belief that tenants routinely abuse the system and another popular belief that the LTB is biased in favor of tenants. It was complicated in our case by the popular belief that recipients of social assistance, or disability pensions, are “welfare bums” or “scammers”. That attitude pervades the LTB, MLE and Hamilton Police services.

I’ve also reached a few conclusions about the Hamilton Police Services and their practices and policies enforcing the law. I’ll state the most important one here: Hamilton Police Services keep the peace first, and enforce the law second. They are perfectly willing to ignore the law to keep the peace, if they sympathize with one of the parties.

My conclusions about Hamilton Police Services are as follows:

  1. They are uninterested in enforcing a tenant’s rights, or taking criminal action against a landlord on a tenant’s behalf even if it is justified. Their knowledge of a tenant’s rights is non-existent, and their opinions on the matter appear to have been imparted to HPS by a feudal landlord.
  2. Some of them have difficulty accurately recording statements or events (I know, I’ve recorded my interactions with police. The recordings frequently do not match what was reported).
  3. They do not look at video evidence.
  4. Most of them have a strong objection to being recorded, and some are willing to use their authority to intimidate someone recording them.
  5. They have no understanding of, or sympathy for, a victim of harassment. They conflate “fear for my safety” and “fear for my physical safety”. The also routinely conflate fear and cowardice.
  6. They do not enforce recognizances or probation orders, and don’t care if the person harassing you already has a peace bond. They won’t help.
  7. They routinely engage in bullying, and their understanding and respect for the “LGBTQ community” is about what it was in the 1980’s. One of them told me “You’re lucky we let fags live downtown any more”. They ignored complaints (to the extent of not even recording the complaint in their report) about homophobic insults. Another inferred (without actually stating it) that I must be a “pervert” since I was bisexual. Nothing much has changed.
  8. They have no interest in hearing complaints about their behaviour, or any interest in correcting even blatant errors.
  9. Hate crimes aren’t hate crimes unless HPS says they are. They find reasons not to. They’re just some guy “expressing his opinion”, not a hate crime. Even if that guy is doing it on his victim’s front doorstep day after day, and bringing others to join in.
  10. They dislike anyone who stands up to a bully (reasonable, since their entire culture is based on bullying). They frequently sympathize with those displaying bullying behavior, sometimes on the flimsiest pretexts.

So I’ll post the whole mess, and if you come to different conclusions I’d like to hear from you. Be prepared to defend your conclusions. I am.

Some notes on conventions used in this blog:

The narrative tells the story in normal text, with links to documents, audio recordings and videos that support the facts stated in the narrative. Documents are indicated by (Doc xx), where xx is the document number. Clicking on the (Doc xx) will download a pdf of the document in question (although in this example, it just opens Google search). Likewise, audio recordings and videos are indicated by (AR-xx) and (Vid xx) respectively. Videos are hosted on youtube, and the (Vid XX) links will open a new tab in your browser and play the video. Most of the videos have subtitles and/or transcripts of the conversations posted. Audio recordings can be downloaded in their entirety by clicking on the (AR xx) links, and played in almost any media player (I recommend VLC Media Player. It’s freeware, open source and plays anything with minimal system resources). Some audio recordings have associated transcripts which can be downloaded (they’re documents, and labelled as documents with the Doc xx format). Screenshots from videos may not match the exact frame specified in the narrative if you are using the videos posted on youtube. Youtube processes the videos for efficient streaming.

Commentary will be in bold text, and includes background and context necessary to understand the events in question. Not all bold text is commentary, so if there is any question, commentary will begin with “{” and end with “}“.

Text that has been cut and pasted from documents, and transcripts, will be italicized. Rants, political opinions, miscellaneous background, personal observations and a healthy dose of snark will be added later, in this colour.

Here’s what happened:

Chapter 1 – Background

Chapter 02 – Wednesday December 14, 2016 to Monday February 20, 2017

Chapter 03 – Tuesday February 21, 2017 to Thursday February 23, 2017

Chapter 04 – Friday February 24, 2017 to Monday March 6, 2017

Chapter 05 – Tuesday March 7, 2017

Chapter 06 – Wednesday March 8, 2017 to Saturday April 1, 2017

Chapter 7 – April 2, 2017-April 30, 2017

Chapter 8 – 1 May 2017-14 May 2017

Chapter 9 – May 15, 2017

Chapter 10 – May 16, 2017

Chapter 11 – May 17, 2017

Chapter 12 – May 18-30, 2017

Chapter 13 – June 1&2, 2017

Chapter 14 & 15 – June 3-June 28, 2017

Chapter 16 – June 29, 2017-July 2, 2017

Chapter 17 – July 3-17, 2017

Chapter 18 – July 18, 2017

Chapter 19 – July 19-21, 2017

Chapter 20 – July 22-31. 2017

Chapter 21 – Tuesday August 1, 2017

Chapter 22 – Wednesday August 2, 2017

Chapter 23 – Thursday August 3, 2017 to Wednesday August 9, 2017

Chapter 24 – Thursday August 10, 2017

Chapter 25 – Friday August 11, 2017 to Sunday September 24, 2017

Chapter 26 – Monday September 25, 2017 to Wednesday September 27, 2017

Chapter 27 – Thursday September 28, 2017

Chapter 28 – Friday September 29, 2017 – Thursday November 2, 2017

Chapter 29 – Friday November 3, 2017 to Sunday December 31, 2017

Chapter 30 – Monday January 1, 2018 to Saturday March 31, 2018

Chapter 31 – Sunday April 1, 2018 to Monday April 30, 2018

Chapter 32 – Tuesday May 1, 2018 to Thursday May 31, 2018

Chapter 33 – Friday June 1, 2018 to Tuesday July 31, 2018

Chapter 34 – Wednesday August 1, 2018 to Sunday September 23, 2018

Chapter 35 – Monday September 24, 2018

Chapter 36 – Tuesday September 25, 2018 to Wednesday October 31, 2018

Chapter 37 – Thursday November 1, 2018 – Friday November 30, 2018

Chapter 38 – Saturday December 1, 2018 to Monday December 31, 2018

Chapter 39 – Wednesday January 1, 2019 to Friday January 31, 2019

Chapter 40 – Friday February 1, 2019 to Thursday February 28, 2019

Chapter 41 – Friday March 1, 2019 to Sunday March 31, 2019

Chapter 42 – Monday April 1, 2019 to Tuesday April 30, 2019

Chapter 43 – Wednesday May 1, 2019 – Thursday May 30, 2019

Chapter 44 – Friday June 1, 2019 to Wednesday July 10, 2019

Chapter 46 – Friday July 12, 2019 to Sunday July 14, 2019

Chapter 47 – Monday July 15, 2019 to Saturday July 28, 2019

Chapter 48 – Sunday July 29, 2019 to Sunday August 4, 2019

Chapter 49 – Monday August 5, 2019

Chapter 50 – Tuesday August 6, 2019

Chapter 51 – Wednesday August 7, 2019-Thursday August 8, 2019

Chapter 52 – Friday, August 9, 2019

Chapter 53 – Sunday, August 11, 2019

Chapter 54 – Monday August 12, 2019

Chapter 55 – Wednesday August 14, 2019 & Thursday August 15, 2019

PART XX-23 August 16, 2019

PART XX-24 August 17-20, 2019

PART XX-25 August 21, 2019

PART XX-26 August 22,2019

PART XX-27 August 23-24, 2019

PART XX-28 August 25, 2019

PART XX-29 August 26, 2019-August 31, 2019

PART XX-30 September 2, 2019

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