An investigation into how MetCap Living Management went after an evicted tenant for two months’ rent has prompted politicians to review housing laws – and landlords agree the time has come.
Lee Strauss, a landlord and investor in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, said that while the law is blurry, eviction laws need to be reviewed in the worst way, as he admits there has been very little recourse for landlords recouping unpaid rent.
“I personally would not go after a tenant after a successful eviction but the process for evictions is completely backwards,” he told CREW. “It can take months before you actually get through the Landlord and Tenant Board.
“If the tenant moves out before the last eviction date decided by the board, the landlord has to find the tenant and take them to Small Claims [Court], which doesn’t get you very far. It’s messed up.”
The comments follow an investigation from the Toronto Star, which detailed how MetCap and its in-house collection agency, Suite Collections, go after evicted tenants for two months’ rent and punish them for not giving the proper 60-day notice.
Cyrilla Hamlet, the tenant evicted in 2012, suffered substantial credit damage as a result, which has prompted a review into Ontario eviction laws.
While the head of MetCap, Brent Merrill, maintains the practice is legal, referring to a past divisional court decision from 1993, the investigation forced the company to suspend the practice for future evictions until the law can be reviewed.
“This practice is unacceptable to me and I’m committed to putting an end to it,” said Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s minister of municipal affairs and housing. “If somebody gets an eviction notice and they move as a result of that notice… the tenant is no longer responsible beyond the date of the eviction notice. That’s the law of the land.”
The investigation also found that a 2013 Small Claims Court decision had previously rejected the 1993 decision. While there is much to be interpreted, Strauss maintains that the whole law needs to be overhauled.
“The eviction process in Ontario is so broken and pro-tenant that by the time it's over, I want to forget it ever happened,” he said. “It’s such a painful experience for both parties, except the landlord is the one that has to float the bill and pay for the tenants rent for three months. It's an absolute joke!”
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