Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rights case exposes yet another legal defect

Letter to the Toronto Star published January 31, 2013

Re Human rights tribunal probes illegal 'rent deposits,' Jan. 28:

This case points out a serious flaw in our human rights legislation. The complainant, a would-be tenant, was asked to pay a year's rent in advance. This violated the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act. Rather than bring court action against the landlord, the complainant appealed to the Human Rights Tribunal.

In this way, the complainant's costs will be borne by taxpayers, while the defendant must pay for his own defence. Should the complaint fail, the defendant cannot claim costs from the complainant. Should the complaint succeed, the defendant must pay at least the $10,000 the complainant demands.

The defect in this procedure lies in the financial incentive to bring such actions to the Human Rights Tribunal rather than to court where they belong. Also, if the awards were paid to the government, many complaints would wither away.

On March 7, a settlement announced, but not the details. Such secrecy exposes one more defect. The tribunal decision should not be secret. It affects all landlords.

For more examples of misguided thinking, click "human rights" below.

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