Milton woman fighting decision to evict her after C-section

With a two-year-old and another baby on the way, Cristina Ribeiro thought the house she and her family were renting in a quiet Milton subdivision would be a place for her children to grow.

Now she's facing the prospect of moving out two weeks after she finishes recovering from a C-section, following a decision by the Landlord and Tenant Board — a decision she wants to ask the board to review on the grounds of discrimination against pregnancy and sex, as well as procedural problems.

The board said in its May 22 decision that her circumstances were taken into consideration when choosing the move-out date of July 31.

But Ribeiro said that will only leave her about two weeks to prepare for the move after spending at least six weeks recovering from the operation, which took place on May 23.

"The deadline to move out is July 31st, but July 18th is the earliest I'd be able to pick up heavy things," she said. "So how am I supposed to pack? And then also with a toddler and a newborn, that adds more challenges to the mix."

Ribeiro and her family were served an eviction notice in July 2023 before she was pregnant, because their landlords wanted to move their parents into the unit. They fought the eviction notice at the LTB because they believed it was in bad faith, after the family declined to agree to illegal rent increases.

But the LTB found the landlords were acting in good faith, leading to the eviction order.

Ribeiro is now planning to ask the board to review its decision, hoping it will reconsider the eviction or grant them more time to move out. She is seeking legal advice to determine whether to request the review on grounds of discrimination or procedural issues with the hearing. She alleges the landlords had more time to present their case to the board than she did, and that some of the evidence she presented to support her case wasn't taken into consideration.

Finding a similarly sized rental in Milton is challenging, she said, and securing daycare for her toddler and baby is difficult because they don't know where they would be living next.

In a statement, the board said adjudicators are independent and make decisions in accordance with the legislation and case law. The board also said it can't comment on specific decisions to preserve that independence.

Reached over email, Ribeiro's landlords declined to comment on this story.

Adjudicators must consider tenants' circumstances

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, adjudicators have the discretion to delay an eviction based on tenant circumstances, according to Dania Majid, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. Majid is not involved in the case.

While the board said it took the family's circumstances into account, Majid said that date still presents challenges.

"To expect this family to pack up and move after such significant major surgery and then to have a newborn, young children, on top of it, I would argue as a clinical lawyer, was not a fair or reasonable use of that discretion," she said.

Dania Majid is a staff lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) in Toronto.
Despite the board saying it took the family's circumstances into account, lawyer Dania Majid says the move-out date still presents challenges. (Danielle Maheu/Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario)

Like other aspects of the board's operations, Majid said the review process can be slow. But Ribeiro could file for the eviction to be put on pause until a review is complete, Majid said, allowing the family to stay in the house longer.

Ribeiro said her family currently plans to stay in the house until the July 31 deadline.

'I cannot tell you the stress'

Ribeiro and her husband will have to rely on the help of others to pack up the family's belongings in time, she said.

They found out about the July 31 eviction date the day before her scheduled surgery, Ribeiro said.

"I cannot tell you the stress that I felt and the anxiety of like, 'oh my gosh, I'm supposed to give birth tomorrow morning and yet I'm being evicted."

The three months she had to wait for the decision is in line with current wait time data, said Kathy Laird, with Tribunal Watch Ontario, but that shows how bad things have become.

Tribunals Ontario says it's making progress at chipping away at the LTB's backlog and that the case count declined each month so far this year.
In a statement, the board says adjudicators are independent and make decisions in accordance with the legislation and case law. The board says it can't comment on specific decisions to preserve that independence. (Patrick Morrell/CBC )

"It used to be back in 2018 that you would only wait 7.9 days, 8 days between when you had your hearing and when you got your order," she said. "So that's an extraordinary increase in delays that parties are experiencing at the Landlord and Tenant Board."

For Ribeiro, she's now another person frustrated with a tribunal that the province's ombudsman has said is "fundamentally failing" in its role.

"I had full faith going into this that things were going to turn out right and we'd be okay. But I have no faith in the system now," she said. "It's as though they weren't listening to what I was saying or they disregarded it completely."