Your Legal Options When your Tenant is Always Late in Paying Rent

First, some landlords can be lenient in giving the tenants a day or two of payment extension, but let’s be clear that by law, the rent payment is late even if it’s late by just one day (though the later the payment, the stronger the landlord’s case). At the same time, one late payment isn’t reasonable grounds for eviction or any sort of disciplinary action. So, the process outlined below is most applicable for landlords whose tenants are chronically late with payments. While there is no specific rule as to how many times tenant must be late to consider him or her being persistently late with rent payments, there should be at least several substantially late payments during reasonable period of time. Persistence of lateness is determined on a case by case basis.

If you do have a tenant who is clearly late in paying his or her rent all the time, the way to address this is, as always, through the Landlord and Tenant Board. In order to be successful in your application with respect to lateness of payment, you will need to begin with gathering evidence to support your application.

The best evidence in such cases is a collection of N4 Notices of Termination. Essentially, if payment is not made on the day it is due, serve the tenant with a Notice of Termination for non-payment of rent the very next day. I outlined this process in an earlier post. As discussed in that same post, if the tenant pays after this notice is issued, he or she an stay in the rental unit, but the Notice serves as confirmation that he or she was, in fact, late in paying. Be sure also to save copies of the tenant’s cheques or other payment methods, and a record of when the payment was provided and deposited into your account, as well as information on any cheques that may have bounced. Note that all this can be a good precautionary practice even if you have no immediate intention to evict your tenant.

Note also that a situation where you went through the process to evict tenants for non-payment, but the tenant paid just in time to stay in the rental unit definitely counts as an occasion of late payment.

Once the tenant has been late in paying rent several times, you can serve him or her with an N4 and also an N8 – a Notice of Termination for persistently late payment of rent. This way, you can proceed with an application to terminate the tenancy for non-payment of rent, or for persistently late payment of rent. From there, the process for evicting the tenant for lateness of payment of rent is similar to the case of evicting a tenant for non-payment. You can file an L2 application with the Landlord and Tenant Board right after issuing the N8, and attend the hearing when it is scheduled.

At the hearing, you or your representative will need to prove that the rent was late on a number of occasions. From there, it is unlikely that the Board will actually issue an immediate eviction order. Usually, the order will be that the tenant must pay rent on time in the future, and that if payment is late again, the landlord can file for eviction using a simplified procedure. In practice this means that if the tenant doesn’t pay on time again, the landlord need only file an application with the Board and provide evidence that payment is late and he or she can receive an eviction order fairly quickly and without a hearing.

Therefore, while going through the process of evicting the tenant for persistently late payment of rent will not always result in immediate eviction, it sets you up for easy tenancy termination the next time payment is not made on time.

In situations where the tenant pays late persistently, there can be multiple potential causes for eviction, most importantly non-payment or late payment. It is important to consider which of these causes to pursue carefully to make sure that the tenancy is terminated and/or arrears are paid as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact me for help with your specific situation!

Wishing you a life free of legal hassles!

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