5 Steps to Rid Your Suite of that Bad Tenant


By April “The Terminator” Stewart

It’s the part of the investment business no one wants to think about – tenants who don’t respect you, your property, or the terms of the lease. After all reasonable efforts to resolve the issues, it’s clear: the only way out is through eviction.

The legislation governing residential tenancies is the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, and accompanying Regulations. It’s your responsibility as landlords to know this. You don’t have to be an expert, of course. However, if you are serious about the business of investing, it’s critical that you understand the legislative framework, even if you plan to be represented by a lawyer or paralegal down the road.

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Disputes between landlords and tenants are adjudicated by the Landlord and Tenant Board, a quasi-judicial “court” with locations all over Ontario. In urban areas, hearings take place several days per week; in rural areas, hearings are held much less frequently, or by telephone conference between the parties and the adjudicator.

Evictions are closely regulated in Ontario. That means you can’t just ask a tenant to leave because the lease is over, for example. You also can’t ask them to leave because their rent is too low for the existing marketplace. Fasten your seatbelt, hop on the bike with the Terminator, and let’s go for a ride.

Step One: The Eviction Notice (N4, N5, N6, N7, N8)

This is the most critical stage of the case! You must choose the correct Notice(s) based on the issues you wish the Board to adjudicate, issue the requisite Notice, and allow it to mature. Some Notices take 14 days to mature, while other Notices don’t have a maturity period. You cannot apply to the Board for a hearing until you have served the Notice, and certify that you have done so with a Certificate of Service. Be sure to investigate and understand accepted methods of service.

Step Two: The Application for a Hearing Date (L1, L2)

This process tells the Board in the official sense that you need their help. They will charge a filing fee of $170.00 and will require that you attach a copy of the preliminary “N” Notice, and a Certificate of Service to show how and when the tenant was served. You can file by fax to the Region closest to the rental unit, or file in person at a Board processing location if one exists in your jurisdiction. They do not “vet” your documents beyond the obvious; that means you might be filing a Notice that is poorly crafted, lacking detail, or otherwise defective.

The Board will process your paperwork and then issue a Notice of Hearing, which provides a hearing date, time and location, and attaches a copy of your Application. You must serve this entire package to the tenant at least 10 days prior to the hearing by a method recognized by the Board’s Rules around service.

Step Three: The Hearing

Depending on the jurisdiction, you can expect to have a hearing date within 3 to 4 weeks after filing the Application. You will be expected to attend the hearing location 30 minutes prior to the commencement of the hearing block in order that proper attendance can be taken. You will be heard alongside a good number of other cases, and punctuality is expected and appreciated by the Board staff and security on site that day.

If your case is about rent arrears, you must come prepared with an L1/L9 Update Form, complete and ready to go, to advise the Board as to rent paid/owing since the Application was filed.

A professional Mediator, employed by the Board, will also be on site to assist landlords and tenants with informal discussion and self-directed resolution, with teeth.

If you can’t come to terms with the tenant, or the tenant doesn’t show up, you must proceed to a formal hearing. The Adjudicator will have already reviewed all of the day’s files ahead of time and identified defective Notices. This is an unfortunate bit of drama played out at hearings every day. The landlord sees that his/her tenant didn’t show up, and waits patiently and confidently for their case to be called, knowing “it’s in the bag”, so to speak.

Finally, it’s their turn and the Adjudicator utters the dreaded words: “Mr. Landlord, can you pull out your Notice, please? We have a problem.” Heart sinking, the landlord is advised that their Notice contained one or more errors that unfortunately render the entire case defective. Imagine waiting six weeks to get to this point, only to find out you must start over? Ouch.

Depending on the type of case you filed, you may need witnesses or supporting documents in order to justify termination of the tenancy. This is court. Be prepared, or beware! The best way to prepare for your hearing is to sit in on a day of hearings ahead of time. You are guaranteed to see, hear, and learn things that will be invaluable to you in preparing for your own hearing.

Step Four: Termination of the Tenancy

Let’s assume you were successful, and the Board issues an Order terminating the tenancy. The Order identifies a date by which the tenants must vacate, and also speaks to specific issues such as rent owing, how the Order is to be enforced, and lays out other information specific to your case. The Order may allow the tenants to remain in the unit by “voiding” the Order. It just depends on the circumstances of the case.

Step Five: Enforcement (Sheriff)

If the tenants don’t void the Order, and don’t vacate as directed, the landlord must now seek Enforcement by the Ministry of Attorney General’s Office – The Sheriff. Not the guy in the cowboy hat. Enforcement Officers are employed by the Ministry to enforce a wide variety of Court Orders, not just evictions. Prepare to wait at least a week, often more, especially in urban areas. It will cost you over $300 to book the Sheriff, and there is no other lawful method of removing tenants who fail to heed the LTB Order.

By this point, it’s been a good eight to ten weeks since you issued your first Notice, and that’s assuming your case was heard on the first scheduled date, the tenant didn’t manage to get the hearing adjourned, or you weren’t reached due to scheduling overflow. For all of these reasons it’s always advisable to file as soon as you know you need adjudication; don’t delay! That’s a long time for a tenant to not pay rent, or continue to conduct themselves in a manner that led to the eviction in the first place.

April “The Terminator” Stewart has been helping landlords through the legal process of dealing with tenants since 2000. She created Landlord Legal in 2006 and brings her experience as a Residential Property Manager to the aid of landlords in the Ontario area. She strives to see a tighter system with less loopholes and happier landlords. Contact April at info@landlordlegal.ca{{cta(‘a2f69965-cbaf-4089-8592-d93ceeef8740′,’justifycenter’)}}

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