T6 interview released

The Clinic Interview Partnership (Clinic IP) is introducing a new online tool for completing the Landlord and Tenant Board's Form T6, a tenant application about repairs and maintenance.

Idea in brief

The new tool is an animated interview that processes the user's responses to generate a Form T6 as well as a schedule A and, if necessary, a Schedule of Parties. (It can also generate a T2 about reasonable enjoyment for the same reasons.) These documents are created onscreen as a saveable PDF at the end of the interview. The schedule A is also emailed to the clinic. The interview is designed for clinic staff and for volunteers and agency partners under legal supervision.

Each clinic using this tool gets a local version, which they can customize to fit local needs.

Expanding the reach of live clinic services

The T6 interview marks a milestone in the Clinic IP project's mission to create online tools that increase the reach of community legal clinic services. This tool supports clinics to provide more help to tenants taking action on repair and maintenance problems.

Clinic housing practices have limited resources. Fighting eviction is often the top priority. And this means that resources for helping tenants with other problems are particularly scarce.

The T6 interview allows clinics to help more tenants take action on repair and maintenance problems by building the capacity of caseworkers new to housing law, students and community partners to help with the time-consuming task of document preparation. And by creating editable, electronic drafts of the T6, the tool makes it easier for experienced caseworkers to review and improve applications prepared by others.

How it works

Created in free software called A2J Author, the animated interview asks the user a series of questions that collect all the information needed to make a claim about repairs and maintenance. The old tenant duty counsel tip sheet for the Form T6 helped guide initial designs of the tool. The interview is password-protected unless a clinic decides not to do this.

The interview guides the user through examples, explanations and issue prompts. Below is an outline of the information collected by the interview:

  • Pre-interview information: asks for names, dates and other information necessary to complete the process, explains how to use the tool, and checks if the tenant has notified the landlord
  • Parties to the application: collects information about the tenants, landlords, supers and agents, and gives information about how to identify the landlord, name corporate parties and decide who to include
  • Rental unit info: collects information about rent frequency, move-in and move-out dates, the tenant's intention to move out and other related applications, and talks about ending the tenancy as a possible remedy
  • Reasons for the application: collects information about each problem, including start and end dates or present status, lists examples of common problems and government inspector reports, and collects a summary of correspondence with the landlord about the problems
  • Remedies: collects the information necessary to make a complete claim of damages for moving, storage, rent increases, out-of-pocket expenses, and repair work, giving examples related to causation and reasonableness, and helps calculate an abatement claim, if applicable
  • Filing details: includes the option of listing the method of payment for the application fee without collecting credit card information, the location for application processing and pick up, and any accessibility and language needs for the hearing

At the end of the interview, the tool creates a draft of a Form T6, Schedule A, Schedule of Parties and, if the user wishes, a Form T2 for interference of reasonable enjoyment on repair and maintenance grounds. These documents appear onscreen as savable PDFs and are also emailed to the clinic - the Schedule A in an MS Word-friendly format

Promising uses

There are many potential uses for the interview tool. At present, the interview is best suited to students, administrative staff and caseworkers new to the T6. But it's also a helpful document completion tool for experienced staff.

The tool can also be used in partnership with community agencies -- trusted intermediaries in rural and remote communities. In urban settings, it could be customized to help complete multiple applications for groups of tenants with common issues.

The tool can also be used in the reception area of a clinic while the tenant waits to see a caseworker -- the completed form being ready to review and easily edited by the clinic at the subsequent appointment.

Plans for future

The tool is now available to the clinics who are participating in the Clinic IP project. While it's the result of many years of hard work, as with most information technology, there's still room for improvement.

An upcoming version of the A2J Author will hopefully resolve some of the technical limitations and some limitations around entering dates.

The Clinic IP project has plans to:

  • add information about abatement in chart form
  • develop the tool into a general interview for tenant issues, which would produce a combination of T6, T2 (not locked out or stuff) and T1 application forms based on the issue

We are also looking into how the tool can be integrated with CIMS.

A clinic system effort

Credit for the progress to date is due to the contributions of many caseworkers at several community legal clinics. The original interview was designed in collaboration with the then housing team at Simcoe, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes. Important advice was generously provided by ACTO Tenant Duty Counsel, with special thanks to Dale Whitmore and Kristina Brousalis. Feedback from the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic based on a pilot of an early interview version was critical to the development process.

During the final design stage, plain language editing was provided by CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario), with special thanks to Kim McCutcheon. On the project team, Chris Zeiba, Jackie Birr, Moazzam Hossain, Rob Routh, John Clements and Principle Inc. all contributed to the three-year development process.

Clinic IP

Clinic IP is a project partnership of 15 community legal clinics and is funded through the Legal Aid Ontario Innovation Fund. The project is piloting a system of online interviews built in A2J Author software that expand the reach of existing community legal clinic services. The project is governed by a steering committee of 14 clinics and representatives of the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario and Legal Aid Ontario.