A popular search trend emerged in 2020 and it was all in thanks to the novel Coronavirus pandemic that swept over the world, putting us all on lockdown and wondering what lies ahead for the future. On top of a lockdown, people were thrown curveballs when they were told they'd be laid off, or even worse; lose their job because numbers were crunched. The word panic is an understatement. Not only do you have bills to pay, but you may have a mortgage or rent, too. Now you're not sure what to do about your living arrangement or what the rules even are regarding your tenancy agreement. You hate having to Google it, but you muster up the courage and type in those harsh words in the search box: can a landlord end the tenancy in Ontario? How much notice does a landlord need to give to terminate the tenancy?
Just know that you're not alone. Many others have had to scramble to sort out their living situation all around the world. But back between March and July in Ontario alone, more than 6,000 applications were processed by the Ontario Landlords and Tenant Board to evict tenants not paying rent and over 500 applications to collect rent that was owed between those months. To say the least, landlords have definitely struggled this year to make a profit on their investments while tenants have had to scrape the barrel to make ends meet and not be served an eviction notice.
Just know, both landlords and tenants have rights. We'll cover all this and more below.
What Is The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006?
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, is the law in Ontario that governs landlord and tenant relations in residential rental accommodations. The act replaced Ontario's Landlord and Tenant Board, 1997, and came into effect in January 2007 after the act received the royal assent. It includes information like the meaning of tenancy, the rights and responsibilities of a landlord, tenancy agreements, maintenance standards, and more importantly, how to end a tenancy in a legal and responsible manner. Therefore, in order for your landlord to evict you from their rental unit, they must follow the steps laid out in this act.
Ending A Tenancy: A Landlord's Rights
In order to end a tenancy, landlords must follow a specific process and have a reason. There are six steps involved.
Step 1: Tenant Receives Written Notice
First and foremost, a written letter must be given to the tenant outlining the reason for their eviction (not paying rent, frequent late payments, damage to the property, etc.) and when the landlord can start taking legal action at the Landlord and Tenant Board. When they can take legal action will depend on the reason given.
Step 2: File With The Board
Once the required time has passed, the landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for a hearing date and they must fill out a form called an Application to Terminate A Tenancy and Evict A Tenant which will come with a fee. The landlord will wait to hear back about a hearing date.
Step 3: Deliver Application & Hearing Date To Tenant
The landlord must hand the tenant both the application to the Landlord and Tenant Board and the Notice of Hearing at least five to ten days before the hearing date. Again, this will depend on the reason given. If the tenant is being evicted due to not paying rent, it will be ten days. If it's more serious matters, it will be five.
Step 4: Landlord Files Certificate of Service
The landlord must file a Certificate of Service with the Landlord and Tenant Board to verify they delivered the necessary documents to the tenant. It must be filed no later than five days after notifying the tenant.
Step 5: The Hearing
The landlord and tenant, or their representative, must attend the hearing.
Step 6: Eviction Order
If the Board allows an eviction, they'll issue an Eviction Order, including the date the tenant must vacate the premises. If the tenant does not leave on said date, the landlord can file an Order with the Court Enforcement Office and have them escorted off the property. The landlord can also change the locks but only with the Sheriff present. Tenants can also not be escorted off the property by just a landlord.
Ending A Tenancy: The Tenant's Rights
Rather than face being evicted, many tenants have wondered how they can exit their tenancy agreement early due to money issues they're now being faced with due to COVID-19. As a tenant, you also have your own rights regarding giving notice to exit an agreement, what the notice must include, and the date you plan on leaving the rental unit. This can be accomplished in a few different ways.
Agreement To End Tenancy Early
If you and your landlord can come to an agreement on a move date (which is technically still considered the termination date), this will certainly lessen the need to get other parties involved. It's perfectly legal and some landlords will be quite happy to discuss this with tenants since they can charge a new tenant more rent for their rental unit, however, always have the agreement in writing. The Agreement to Terminate Tenancy (Form N11) should be signed by both you and your landlord, especially if you are in a fixed-term tenancy. A fixed-term tenancy means you have signed on to at least pay rent for a certain amount of time (typically one year), before moving to month-to-month.
Besides the signature, the agreement will entail information regarding the address of the rental you're moving from, when your move-out date/termination date is, and the statements you both made regarding your agreement to terminate the tenancy period earlier than initially agreed upon.
Assigning Rental Unit To New Tenants
Rather than terminating your tenancy, if you want to move out early, you can legally assign your tenancy period to new tenants in agreement with your landlords. The new tenants do not have to be a family member; they can be anyone as long as the agreement is in writing. You must provide your landlord with the notice of termination no later than 30 days after you asked to assign the rental unit to another tenant in Ontario. You can give them a Tenant's Notice to Terminate the Tenancy (Form N9) to sign. Landlords must give viable reasons to disagree with your assigning of a new tenant, particularly if they missed rent payments or caused property damage.
Sublet The Rental Unit
In cases where you'll be gone for a few month's time, you can sublet your place in Ontario so the new tenant pays rent until you return, but your landlord must agree to this. Again, if your landlord gives viable reasons as to why they do not agree with subletting the tenant in question, like they did not pass a credit check, for example, then you may need to seek legal advice as subletting can be quite tricky. You'll also want to be careful seeing as you'll be responsible if that new tenant causes property damage or skips rent payments. However, if your landlord is just being unreasonable, you can apply to the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board. If you did not go about subletting correctly, your landlord has at least 60 days from finding out about the new tenant to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board and terminate the entire tenancy period.
What Should I Do If I Receive A Notice of Termination In Ontario?
If your landlord gives you a Notice of Termination, you should know your rights as a tenant, and what steps should be taken next. Evicting someone from a rental unit needs to be done legally. Just breathe and seek legal advice to ensure everything is done right, after all, you may not necessarily have to move out.
One thing you should note is the number at the top of the Notice of Eviction. These indicate the "reasons" and where you'll find the termination date. For example, the forms will be labelled as:
- Form N4: Notice to End a Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent
- Form N5: Notice to End your Tenancy For Interfering with Others, Damage, or Overcrowding
- Form N6: Notice to End your Tenancy For Illegal Acts or Misrepresenting Income in a Rent-Geared-To-Income Rental Unit
- Form N7: Notice to End your Tenancy For Causing Serious Problems in the Rental Unit or Residential Complex
- Form N8: Notice to End your Tenancy at the End of the Term
- Form N12: Notice to End your Tenancy Because the Landlord, a Purchaser, or a Family Member Requires the Rental Unit
- Form N13: Notice to End your Tenancy Because the Landlord Wants to Demolish the Rental Unit, Repair it or Convert it to Another Use
Regardless of the Notice of Termination you're given, it must clearly state the date your landlord wants you to move out (the termination date), the reason they want you to move out, and the information and details surrounding their reasoning. They can give notice in a few different ways including mailing it to you, putting it in your mailbox themself, or personally handing it to you.
Can You Cancel A Notice of Termination?
You may be able to cancel if the notice tells you how much rent you owe in order to cancel the termination, or by correcting the other issue in a certain amount of time. The notice should have been given to you in a certain number of days before that said termination date. Once corrected and the termination date is cancelled, you aren't required to move out. All in all, it's always best to discuss any issues with your landlord in Ontario just in case there has been some form of misunderstanding.
How Much Notice Does A Landlord Have To Give A Tenant To Move Out In Ontario?
The popular question remains: how much notice is legally required by your landlord to end your tenancy?
Your landlord must give you 60 days' notice to end your rent period using a form by the Landlord and Tenant Board. If you are not in a fixed-term agreement, they are legally required to give notice within 28 days and may not necessarily have a reason for evicting you. This is why tenants and landlords opt for fixed-term tenancies in Ontario.
Both Landlords & Tenants Have Their Rights In Ontario
Evicting a tenant isn't easy for landlords. It's especially gotten tough this year due to the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting tenants' pay. However, if you don't make your agreed on rent payments, you cause damage to the property or are involved in illegal activity within their rental unit, they can evict you from a fixed-term tenancy after giving you 60 days' notice using forms by the Landlord and Tenant Board. They are required to do this legally, therefore, a termination date must be clear, as well as the reason for the notice.
Making frequent rent payments in 2020 is easier said than done, but there are still ways you can go about moving correctly. Speak with your landlord and give them a good reason to agree to end your tenancy early, or assign your lease agreement to someone new. In order to give new tenants your current agreement, you'll need the proper forms from the Board.
Ultimately, no matter what you or your landlord decide, it's always a good idea to have everything in writing.
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