An investment property is a great opportunity to gain another income but every now and then something shakes up the process. The roof starts to leak or an appliance breaks down. Although a hassle, these obstacles happen and investors do anticipate them.
But what investors often don’t anticipate is the unruly tenant and the process of eviction. Although a landlord may have a valid reason to evict a tenant, if the tenant refuses to move, the landlord cannot evict the tenant without going through the proper legal steps. It’s important to remember that going through the proper legal steps can protect investors should the eviction process begin to escalate.
How to Evict Tenants in Ontario?
There are many reasons why a landlord would want to evict a tenant but what might take an investor by surprise is that according to the Residential Tenancies Act, there are only a few valid reasons that can lead to a successful eviction notice. A landlord can choose to evict if: the tenant stops making the agreed upon rental payments or is continuously late making the payments, the tenant has been involved in illegal activity on the premises, the tenant has caused damage to the property, the safety of others is compromised, there is an overcrowding issue (check local bylaws for specifics), the landlord wishes to use the property for their own person use, the house is being sold, or if the landlord plans to make major renovations that require the home to be vacated.
Any of these reasons can lead to a successful eviction but it’s important that a landlord follows the necessary steps if an eviction is necessary.
There are a total of six steps that a landlord must follow to evict a tenant:
1. Give The Tenant Written Notice
The landlord is required to give the tenant a “Notice of Termination” form that outlines the reason for the eviction. This form must include the date that the landlord will begin taking legal action with the Landlord and Tenant Board. Notice forms and instruction kits are available online at the Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO) website. The time allotted for tenants to remove themselves from the home is determined by the reason behind the eviction. Each reason is given a separate form and it is up to the landlord to provide the tenant with the correct form for the eviction process to continue.
2. File An Application With The Board
After the tenant has been given their official notice and the allotted time has passed, the landlord can apply to the board for a hearing date. The Landlord must fill out the “Application to Terminate a Tenancy and Evict a Tenant” form which is also conveniently provided on the SJTO website. The 13 paged form must be filed at the Board with an application fee of about $190. The Board will likely schedule your hearing between three and six weeks after the date that your application was filed.
3. Deliver The Application As Well As The Notice Of Hearing
At least 5 or 10 days before the hearing, the landlord will need to deliver a copy of both the “Application to Terminate a Tenancy and Evict a Tenant” and the “Notice of Hearing” to the tenant. The time needed will be determined by the reason behind the eviction notice. Consult with the form guide for an exact number.
4. File A Certificate Of Service With The Board
The fourth step is to help the landlord verify that the forms were delivered to the tenant on the correct dates. The “Certificate of Service” form must be filled out and filed with the Board Office no later than 5 days after the documents were delivered to the tenant. Some cases require a mediator from the Board to help resolve any issues between the landlord and tenant. If a mediator is not needed, the case will continue through to the hearing. The “Certificate of Service” is provided on the SJTO website.
5. Attend The Hearing
Both parties will need to be present for the hearing. If the landlord or the landlord’s representative is absent, their application for eviction may be dismissed. If the tenant or their representative is absent, the Board can make a decision without them.
6. Eviction Order
If the Board grants the landlord the eviction, an official “Eviction Order” will be issued. The “Eviction Order” will state the date that the tenant must leave the property.
If for some reason the tenant chooses to ignore the court approved eviction notice, the landlord must file the “Eviction Order” with the Court Enforcement Office (Sheriff’s Office). A landlord cannot change the locks or forcibly remove a tenant without the sheriff being present to witness.
Who’s better protected, tenants or landlords?
While there are many laws is in favour of the tenants, there are many laws that are in place to protect landlords as well. Landlords that know their rights as well as the rights of their tenants will be able to legally protect themselves should they encounter a difficult tenant. For example, one rumour that many tenants believe is that it’s illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant during the winter months but it’s not true. So long as the landlord goes through the proper channels eviction can happen anytime of the year, so long as the reasons fall under the Residential Tenancies Act.
Whatever the reason, evicting a tenant can be stressful but it helps to know that there are resources and protections put in place to help landlords. More information on the process can be found on Social Justice Tribunals Ontario website. Landlords that require further help can call the Landlord and Tenant Board at 416-645-8080 from within Toronto or toll free at 1-888-332-3234 to speak to a Customer Service Officer. Attending Real Estate Investors Meeting can help provide investors with extra information as well.