Any tenant who has ever rented a unit from an unpleasant landlord knows the feelings of frustration and helplessness that naturally occur in those situations. That being said, tenants have several rights which are protected by law, and some of the most significant of those rights deal with eviction of tenants.
In the vast majority of cases, the landlord must apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for an eviction order, and before a landlord may apply for such an order, they must first give notice of termination that explains to the tenant why the landlord wants to evict them. In some cases, the landlord must also wait a certain number of days to provide the tenant with an opportunity to correct the problem. The exact number of days which the tenant has to fix the problem should also be included in the notice.
If the tenant fails to adequately deal with the issues raised by the landlord or if the tenant simply refuses to move out, the landlord can file an application with the LTB. In most cases a hearing will then be scheduled. At the hearing, the person who plays the role of the “Judge” is called a “Member,” and he or she will listen to the landlord and the tenant and then make a decision in accordance with the law. The Board will typically not render an eviction order unless the law permits doing so based upon the facts of the case. The Board Member will make her or his decision pursuant to the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).
If the Board does decide to make an Order for eviction, it will tell the tenant when they must leave the unit. If the tenant does not move out, then the landlord can file the Board’s Order with the Court Enforcement Office (also called the Sheriff). It’s important to keep in mind that only the Court Enforcement Office can evict a tenant, and your landlord does not have the right to personally remove you or hire someone to do so.
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There are many situations where the Board may make an order for eviction. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of five situations where your landlord will likely be successful in obtaining an order for eviction against you:
Before you think about starting a grow-op or opening an illegal gaming house in your rented unit, you may want to consider that Section 61(1) of the RTA permits a landlord to give a tenant notice of termination of the tenancy if the tenant (or another occupant of the rental unit) commits an illegal act or carries on an illegal trade, business or occupation in the rental unit or the residential complex. The rule also applies to tenants who don’t necessarily carry out any illegal activities themselves, but allow other persons to do so.
Damage to Unit or Complex
Most tenants are careful not to damage their landlord’s property, usually because no one wants to be responsible to pay for repairs in connection with such damage. However, beyond seeking money for repairs, Section 62 of the RTA states that a landlord may also give a tenant notice of termination if the tenant, another occupant or a person whom the tenant permits in the residential complex willfully or negligently causes undue damage to the rental unit or the residential complex.
That being said, there are some rules that the landlord must follow even if when damage occurs. First, the notice that the landlord provides to the tenant must not indicate a termination date that is earlier than 20 days after the notice is given to the tenant. Second, the landlord’s notice must provide written reasons describing the grounds for termination. Third, the notice must instruct the tenant to do one of the following four things within seven days: (1) repair the damaged property, (2) pay to the landlord the reasonable costs of repairing the damaged property, (3) replace the damaged property or (4) pay to the landlord the reasonable costs of replacing the damaged property, if it is not reasonable to repair the damaged property.
As a tenant, if you comply with the third part of the landlord’s notice, then the notice is deemed to be void and you can have some peace of mind (more or less) in knowing that you probably won’t be evicted for the damage to the property.
Keep in mind that shorter notice periods apply (10 days) if the tenant is intentionally causing undue damage to the rental unit or the residential complex. You’ll also lose the opportunity to simply repair or replace the damaged property. The shorter 10-day notice period also applies if the tenant uses the rental unit in a manner that is inconsistent with the ordinary use of a residential premises and that causes (or can reasonably be expected to cause) significantly greater damage than the usual type of damage in such disputes.
Many tenants incorrectly assume that rent can be withheld if the landlord isn’t properly maintaining the tenant’s building or unit. It might be tempting to assume that an unlawful act by your landlord entitles the tenant to assert themselves by withholding rent. After all, it may seem like the only way to make a point, and encourage the landlord to pay attention to the tenant’s concerns. In reality, withholding rent does more harm than good to the tenant’s case. It entitles the landlord to give the tenant a notice of termination for non-payment of rent and then file an application with the LTB to evict the tenant. If the tenant continues to withhold rent, the Board will almost certainly issue an eviction order against the tenant.
The best way to deal with issues with your landlord is to work within the law. The first step would be to simply talk to your landlord and ensure that your communications are in writing (these communications can later be used in a hearing). Text messages and emails can be used as admissible evidence to support communications “in writing”.
If talking to your landlord doesn’t work, you can file a Tenant Application about Maintenance with the LTB, you can also take legal steps to arrange to pay some or all of your rent to the LTB instead of the landlord until your application has been decided. Complete the Request to Pay Rent to the Board on a Tenant Application about Maintenance. Keep in mind that you will have to justify why you are not paying the landlord directly, and the LTB will decide whether to grant or reject your request.
Interference with Reasonable Enjoyment
A landlord may also give a tenant notice of termination if the conduct of the tenant, another occupant (or a person permitted in the residential complex by the tenant) is such that it substantially interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of the residential complex for all usual purposes by the landlord or another tenant.
Again, there are rules about notice. If the landlord feels there is an issue of substantial interference with reasonable enjoyment, the notice-letter must provide a termination date that is not earlier than the 20th day after the notice is given. It must also describe the reasons for the termination and require the tenant, within seven days, to stop the conduct or activity or described in the notice.
Similar to a notice regarding damage to the property, the tenant can, within seven days after receiving the notice, stop the conduct or activity and the notice will be void.
There are somewhat different rules for small buildings. In a building containing not more than three residential units, the landlord may give a tenant notice of termination on a shorter timeline of 10 days. In small buildings, the tenant won’t be able to void the termination-notice simply by stopping the disruptive conduct.
Landlord’s Personal Use
A landlord may, with notice to the tenant, terminate a tenancy if the landlord in good faith requires possession of the rental unit for the purpose of residential occupation by the landlord himself or herself, the landlord’s spouse or a child or parent of the landlord or the landlord’s spouse. It’s interesting to note that “personal use” also includes a person who provides or will provide care services to the landlord, the landlord’s spouse, or a child or parent of the landlord or the landlord’s spouse, provided that the person receiving the care services resides or will reside in the building or related group of buildings.
Keep in mind that the key words are “in good faith,” and some landlords may be tempted to evict a tenant under the false presence that he or she requires possession of the rental unit for personal use. If you think that your landlord is simply attempting to obtain an eviction order and does not actually require the unit for the reasons he or she is stating, then you should dispute these grounds at your hearing.
If you’re facing an eviction for any of the above reasons, or for some other reason, it’s important to talk to a lawyer. Many lawyers offer free consultations and you’re better off knowing your options before taking legal steps.