Prioritizing alternatives to eviction in Manitoba

September 29, 2023

The Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR) proudly partnered with the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) and other non-profit organizations in Manitoba on a project that aimed to prevent unnecessary evictions of vulnerable households in the province.

Across Canada, renters are increasingly struggling to find affordable housing and to remain in their homes. Eviction rates are shockingly high, with 7% of Canadian households reporting that they have been evicted at some point in their lives. Some of these households are evicted when they fall behind on rent because of temporary financial difficulties. Others are evicted because of solvable problems like noise complaints. With varying decisions related to the eviction of people from their rental homes, it is unclear how decisions are considered and whether alternative solutions were pursued.  

It is incumbent upon courts and tribunals to identify situations where eviction is not a necessary means to resolve disputes, and to prioritize alternative measures that will prevent people from unnecessarily losing their home. Many evictions are not necessary – and unnecessary evictions are a violation of the right to housing. People who are unnecessarily evicted from their homes may not find another permanent place to live and could experience homelessness as a result. This is why CCHR and our partners in Manitoba worked to develop legal arguments that will assist local advocates in fighting these evictions. 

In some provinces, the law allows tenancy tribunals to respect tenants’ right to housing by recognizing alternatives to eviction. This allows the tenant and landlord to pursue other ways to resolve their issues, considering each party’s circumstances and abilities, while meeting their contractual obligations. An important alternative to an eviction is called a conditional order, which is a way for a tribunal to recognize the many cases where eviction may be avoided. A conditional order directs a tenant to resolve an issue in their tenancy. For example, a tenant who owes rent can be given a repayment plan. A tenant who has been impacting their neighbours with excessive noise can be directed to make less noise. Conditional orders can prevent evictions, allowing for other solutions to resolve an existing tenancy issue while keeping a tenant housed and respecting the landlord’s interest in ensuring that issues are resolved. 

CCHR undertook detailed research into the history of conditional orders in Manitoba. We discovered that the Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB) used to routinely avoid evictions by making conditional orders. But in 2009-2010, the RTB suddenly, and without any explanation, largely abandoned this important eviction prevention tool. 

As a result, tenants in Manitoba are routinely subjected to unnecessary eviction with no consideration of alternative solutions and whether their tenancies actually need to end. 

CCHR worked with community organizations in Manitoba to develop legal arguments to persuade the RTB to resume the use of conditional orders as regular practice. In every eviction hearing, the RTB must approach eviction as a last resort, considering whether an eviction is really necessary, or whether a conditional order would be a better option. 

At the same time, we also worked to persuade the Manitoba government to amend its Residential Tenancies Act to provide that RTB adjudicators may only order an eviction if the landlord has proved that it is necessary and that a conditional order would not be possible.

This project was generously supported by the Manitoba Law Foundation.  

Learn more about conditional orders

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