Given the alarming speed at which the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way in which the world operates, it is inevitable that it would change the legal system as well.
In Chalich v. Alhatam1, Madam Justice Kristjanson for the Divisional Court reminded the parties that the current priority is to ensure that everyone stays home and stays healthy during the lockdown period.
In Chalich, the moving party Mr. Chalich (“Landlord”) had executed an agreement of purchase and sale for a condominium unit occupied by the responding party Mr. Alhatam (“Tenant”). His hope was that the Tenant would move out before the sale took place. The Landlord was required to deliver vacant premises to the purchasers. As it turned out, the Tenant did not move out. Instead, the Tenant unsuccessfully pursued this matter at the Landlord and Tenant Board, which granted an eviction order.
The Tenant then sought a review of the eviction order by the Board. The Board affirmed the eviction order.
The Tenant then appealed to the Divisional Court under section section 210(1)of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17.
While they were waiting for the appeal to be heard, the Tenant arranged to move out. He signed a lease for another apartment. The new lease was to commence on May 1, 2020. To cover the transition period, the Tenant and the Landlord came to a mutual agreement and extended the tenancy until May 1, 2020.
At the appeal before the Divisional Court, the issue was whether the previously ordered eviction could be carried out during the pandemic. Justice Kristjanson ruled that individuals cannot be kicked out of a unit during a pandemic. She explained that the Tenants at hand were a family with young children. The family would be left without a place to go given that people were instructed to stay home in order to care for their health.
Conversely, the Landlord would suffer no irreparable harm if the carrying out of the eviction order was deferred till the lifting of the province wide emergency.
1 Chalich v. Alhatam, 2020 ONSC 2569