Unpaid rent is an all too common problem that can financially set back a landlord for months to come. So what’s the legal recourse for an Ontario landlord whose tenant hasn’t paid rent?
First, the only legal recourse is eviction through the Landlord and Tenant Board – it’s never acceptable to, for example, change the locks and not give the tenant a key. That said, here’s a step by step overview of the process to evict a tenant who hasn’t paid rent through the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board.
- As soon as the tenant missed the rent due date (or your patience in waiting for rent has lapsed), the first step is to give him or her the appropriate notice of termination. This notice informs the tenant that he or she must pay all the arrears of rent or move out. It is important to fill this form out properly, because if the tenant doesn’t pay the rent owing and you have to proceed further, an improperly issued notice can mean you have to start the process over and waste valuable time. The tenant must be served with this notice of termination, and the method of service is another important point to pay attention to – a notice that’s not served properly can also mean you have to start over.
- Next, you have to wait to see what the tenant does upon receiving the notice. If the tenant pays, hopefully everything returns to normal. If the tenant moves out, you have the space vacated so you can rent it out again and you can file a claim for the amount of the rent in small claims court. If the tenant doesn’t pay or move out, move on to the next step.
- Upon expiration of the appropriate period of time, if the tenant doesn’t pay rent or move out, you can file an application for eviction with the Landlord and Tenant Board. Again, it’s very important to get all the details right, and attach the appropriate documents to the eviction application. The fee for the application is $170.00. The eviction application must be filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board.
- Once the application is processed, which takes about five business days (sometimes less or more, depending on the backlog at the Board), the Landlord and Tenant Board will schedule a hearing of your application and notify you of and the tenant about the date. The hearing will be scheduled for a date about three or four weeks away.
- At the hearing, you will need to testify about what payments you received, how much the tenant owes, and other relevant issues. It’s difficult to predict how the tenant will respond. We’ve seen tenants claim they actually made payments, bring applications against landlords for things like poor maintenance to justify non-payment, or simply not show up.
- If all goes well, the Landlord and Tenant Board will issue an eviction order. The eviction order will, usually, give the tenant about ten days to move out and pay the rent owing. Hopefully, the tenant complies. If the tenant does not, you will have to apply for eviction with the sheriff and collect the money the tenant owes, which can take another three weeks or so.
The length of the process then, from the time you issue the Notice of Termination for Non-Payment of Rent to the time the tenant is evicted, can take about six or seven weeks, and about two or three weeks more if the tenant doesn’t move out willingly even after the order and you have to contact the sheriff.
Having Spectrum Paralegal on your side throughout this process has a lot of benefits. These are just a few:
- We make sure that all the forms are filled out properly. Although the forms can appear common-sense, there are a lot of technical requirements. One small mistake, and you might waste another month of unpaid rent. Too often we see landlords issuing in appropriate or invalid notices, or serving them incorrectly, which almost always means that the tenant doesn’t pay for another few weeks.
- We represent you at the hearing. This means that most likely, you won’t have to speak to the board – your paralegal will speak instead, and present your case in the best possible way. For hearings related to non-payment of rent, most of the time, you will not have to attend.
- We analyze the total of your tenancy situation, to see if there are other, less obvious, reasons for eviction which can be used to evict the tenant quicker or with more certainty.
- Finally, you avoid the stress, time and hassle of learning about the eviction process, communicating with your tenant, preparing and filing documents, and attending the hearing.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for an assessment of your case. We can handle the entire eviction from the time of issue of the Notice, and through the hearing.
We’ll be sure to give you more details on how to evict the tenant through the sheriff, what to do if the tenant always pays rent late, and how to evict a tenant if you need to use the property for your own needs in future posts.
In the meantime, we wish you a life free of legal hassles!