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Can a tenant be turfed for non-payment?

Helen Morris, National Post · Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011

Owning property and renting it out to tenants can be a great investment, but when the tenant stops paying the rent, it can be financially and personally very stressful.

Creating a clear and formal relationship between landlord and tenant is key. This needs to be done well before the tenant ever sets up home in the landlord's property.

"First of all, try to build a strong relationship with the tenant," says Arun Mehta, a broker with Richmond Realty Group in Markham. "Make sure there is a formal lease in place; that is very important."

Mr. Mehta says keeping clear records is crucial from the moment a tenant is late with a rent payment.

"As soon as [the landlord] senses any trouble, make sure to document everything and make sure [the documentation] is in compliance with the Landlord and Tenant Board," Mr. Mehta says.

The Landlord and Tenant Board in Ontario sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants and resolves disputes through mediation or adjudication.

If the tenant is late paying rent by just one day, a landlord can serve the tenant with a Form N4 giving the tenant 14 days to pay the rent arrears or move out (to source the form, follow the links at ltb.gov.on.ca/en)."If they don't pay, or they don't move out in accordance with the notice, then the landlord can file an application with the Landlord and Tenant Board for an eviction order," says Mira Gamsa, manager for program development at the Landlord and Tenant Board. "Once a landlord files an application with us, we will schedule a hearing, and we will prepare what's called a notice of hearing and an application package for the landlord to serve on the tenant."

Ms. Gamsa says on the day of the hearing, the landlord and tenant may be able to settle their dispute through mediation and, say, agree on a schedule of payment for the rent arrears or upon a date for the tenant to vacate the property.

"If they can't agree, then they would go before the [board] members for the hearing," Ms. Gamsa says. "The landlord would explain why he or she filed the application and the tenant would have an opportunity to present their side of the case."

Ms. Gamsa says some tenants harbour a misconception that they can simply stop paying their rent. She says both parties need to realize that the Board is "a little like a court," and that each will need to prove their case.

"There's nothing in the act that gives the tenant the right to simply stop paying the rent," Ms. Gamsa says. "If there's maintenance issues, the tenant can raise that and it's up to an adjudicator to decide what to do. But that doesn't mean that the landlord could not have served the termination notice."

Mr. Mehta says it can be good to have an expert on your side.

"I would give them the recommendation of hiring a paralegal that is involved in the Landlord and Tenant Board process," Mr. Mehta says. "You need to have an advocate there for you."

If the hearing results in the landlord obtaining an eviction order and the tenant does not move out, the landlord must take the order to the sheriff's office. The sheriff, not the landlord, must supervise the eviction and change the locks.

Posted on Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 06:16PM by Registered CommenterElaine | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

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