Late payments, bouncing checks – these are just a couple of the warning signs seasoned landlords look for. But while evicting a troublesome tenant may seem the easy solution, doing so isn’t quite as simple. We asked Harry Fine, a paralegal specializing in landlord and tenant law, to give investors a list of the top four tips for first-time landlords looking to go the eviction route.
Prepare for a battle
As Fine points out, investors keen to evict a tenant should first be aware it’s no straightforward process. “The single biggest mistake landlords make is not recognizing evicting a tenant is a highly regulated business,” he says. “They had better be familiar with the process, or retain someone who is, before they start the eviction.”
Separate fact from fiction
There are several urban legends haunting the industry and lingering on the Internet about what a tenant is entitled to, but Fine advises to do your due diligence and realize what your entitlements are under the LTB. “On rent applications, the Landlord Tenant Board under the act does not evict and get you your money; it only does one or the other,” he says. “The way the process works under the law is that if the tenant pays, the tenant stays. So right up to the moment the sheriff comes to the door, the tenant has a right to be there – if they pay.”
Research your options
A Google search for “When can I evict my tenant?” returned 814,000 results. Needless to say, compiling the answers yourself will be a cumbersome task. Instead, Fine suggests sticking to the free resources provided by your local LTB such as its website and free call centre, as well as soliciting legal counsel from a professional who specializes in landlord and tenant law, is licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and affiliated with their local LTB.
Fine advises to nip an issue in the bud quickly, rather than let it drag on. “Don't write 10 letters saying the same thing. It's like the brakes on your car; when they start to squeak, they never get better without some action,” he says. “Give one warning, one letter, and then do the appropriate termination notice, likely an N5, which is remedial...if the tenant corrects the behaviour, the problem goes away. By waiting, you are simply making the damage worse, the behaviour more entrenched, and letting other tenants be disturbed by the behaviour, opening yourself up to meritorious claims from other tenants.”