Getting rid of a bad tenant in Ontario is easy

By Bruce Firestone | Architecture

Dec 15

Yeah, right. In an alternate universe, maybe, but in Ontario, land of the RTA, residential tenancy act, it’s hard for landlords to acquire vacant possession.

On behalf of a coaching client, I recently reached out to Brian Dagenais, founder of Dagenais Properties, and an expert property manager, for his advice on this subject.

Here’s the issue my client wrote to me about:

Bruce:

I wonder if you could provide any suggestions for a problem we have.

A couple started renting one of my townhomes this past summer, and
never paid their full rent. Not once. Now they have arrears of over $6.000.

We got a paralegal agent to help us. We got them to sign a payment plan; however, the plan was ignored.

We finally got an eviction order sent to the tenant ordering them to move out by Dec 14th. Now they are appealing that order.

The couple are very knowledgeable–they know how to take advantage of the residential tenancy act. They have told untruths about everything and, according to our paralegal agent, this couple has done this before.

Do you have any suggestions about how to deal with this situation?

Thanks, Bill (not his real name)

Here’s Brian’s blunt advice:

• You are going to lose money on this event
• The only goal you should have is finding any legal way possible to evict them
• No payment plans, no second or third chances
• You need to hire a tenant board lawyer in my opinion–Michael Thiele is a good one
• You need to have kept or keep very good records–text, email/diary/journal, they’re all fine–never threaten and never use profanity–the rent board hates that
• A lawyer will help you win even a slam dunk case–because this appears to be a slam dunk case yet you haven’t won yet
• The lawyer needs to regularly do tenant/landlord law as it is a special type of law and there’s an art to it…
• You also need to amp up the pressure on the tenant–review the lease–what else are they breaking? Tenant insurance? Proper care and upkeep? Storage of flammables in the basement? Leaking oil onto your driveway from a broken down car?
• You have a legal right to inspect the premises
• I would recommend you get a competent third party to inspect your property as you’re likely emotionally compromised and it will likely only add to your stress if you do it yourself
• Obviously follow your lawyer’s advice, but I would suggest that, since they are depressed and sad and feeling generally blue about their financial situation, you should help them
• In mediation, I would offer to waive the $6,000 they owe you–take a moment and sit down and consider that the odds of you ever collecting that $6,000 is low–probably less than 5%; as such, use that money as leverage–they’re depressed, don’t want to spend money on moving, finances are tight, the stress of repaying $6,000 is causing them anxiety; fine–waive the $6,000 as a condition of termination; make the termination 45 days–until the end of January. Take February to repair your house and put it back on the market for March…
• Remember–a win is getting your home back
• Finally, going forward, always be sure to rent to people that have something to lose
• Keep good records and issue eviction notices reasonably quickly; you can always rescind but the system is weighed against you, you have to work probably twice as hard as your tenant to enforce your rights

Good luck, Brian

I also reached out to Christian Szpilfogel from Aliferous Property Management, https://aliferous.managebuilding.com/Resident/public/home, another expert. Here’s his take–

Eviction for non-payment of rent? There is a wide variance for this and I’m talking about tenants who don’t pay and refuse to leave on their own.

Here is the break down in an ideal situation:

  1. It takes you time to realize, you are not getting paid. Typically, a month even though you will have (hopefully) issued an N4 the day after rent was due.
  2. You file an L1, but then it takes 2-3 months to get a hearing in Eastern Ontario. It is worse in southern Ontario. Main issue is we have not been hiring new adjudicators as older ones leave over the last 2+ years (they have term limits). It is getting better now, but we still have a shortage.
  3. If you are lucky, you will get your decision at the hearing but either way, you need to wait for the formal decision in the snail mail, which takes 2-4 weeks, assuming if it is not a controversial matter.
  4. You then have an arbitrary 11-day waiting period before you can contact the sheriff (to arrange for eviction–don’t try this yourself).
  5. The Sheriff then takes about 3-weeks before they can schedule you in.

So best possible case is maybe 5-months currently assuming the tenant has to be removed. But you can also see where things may go wrong:

  1. The tenant convinces you he will catch up and delays your L1 filing.
  2. The tenant doesn’t show up at the first hearing and later asks for an adjournment. Or they say they just became aware and get an adjournment. This is usually an additional 2-month delay.
  3. The tenant refuses to pay you because of “maintenance” issues and raises that at the hearing (just adds to cost).
  4. The tenant promises the adjudicator (or mediator) that he or she will pay and maybe makes a goodwill payment of a few hundred dollars, but then doesn’t pay the balance. Then you need to go back to the LTB.
  5. The tenant receives the decision to evict, but he or she appeals to divisional court and gets on their schedule. It is inexpensive for them and will take time for the court to respond. In most cases, the tenant never shows up to this court hearing so you get your final decision but this adds to delays.

In my experience, most tenants will leave on issuance of the N4 or make things right. And on the other extreme, there are professional tenants who use every trick in the book to delay eviction. And of course, there are those in between. I help a lot of landlords with these kinds of issues.

A key aspect of success is, in fact, to screen the heck out of new tenants. But again, human rights codes throw a few wrenches your way. For example, if your rent is $1,000 a month and the tenant earns $1001/month then you cannot discriminate based on income. #Seriously

Best, Christian

FOR REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT AND BUSINESS COACHING THAT’LL HELP YOU PROVIDE FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY FOR 3-GENERATIONS, PLEASE CONTACT:

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD
Real Estate Investment and Business coach
Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc broker
Ottawa Senators founder
1-613-762-8884
bruce.firestone@century21.ca
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Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Tenants_(movie_poster).jpg

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Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.

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