As the global pandemic continues to put a stranglehold on the economy, finances may get even tighter for those on government assistance programs, which may soon come to an end. Any owner of a real estate property has many bills to pay, but what happens if their tenants stop paying rent? Of course, compassion is needed during these unprecedented times, but it doesn’t take any payment responsibilities away neither from real estate owners nor from tenants. So, how has COVID-19 altered the eviction process and what can you do about tenants who are not paying their rent?
According to the Landlord and Tenant Board, in most cases, the first step a landlord should take is to give notice in writing stating that they want the tenants to move out and list the reasons why. This notice can refer to a number of issues, with non-payment of rent being the most obvious one. If tenants can rent in an agreed-upon time frame, then perfect, eviction is not necessary. If not, there are payment deferrals and other programs that can be accessed. Landlords are expected to work with their tenants as much as possible to keep both sides happy.
File an application
If the tenant does not address the problem written about in the notice, the landlord can file an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board. Most applications must be filed within 30 days of the termination date set out in the notice. However, there is no deadline to apply in order to end a tenancy for failure to pay rent. As of right now, Landlord and Tenant Board counter services are closed, but applications can still be filed online.
In most cases, the Board will set up a hearing to make a decision about the landlord’s application. It will then mail a Notice of Hearing to the landlord(s) and tenant(s) along with a copy of the landlord’s original application. In-person hearings are being scheduled, but only for non-urgent evictions, and these have just started to take place in the past few weeks. However, landlords can apply for an eviction order without a hearing if tenants have signed repayment agreements and have failed to pay.
The Board’s decision
A member of the Board will make a decision regarding the landlord’s application to end the tenancy of the tenant in question and whether they should be evicted or not. The member’s decision is always to be written out in writing. This written decision is referred to as an order. The board will make a copy of the order for both the landlord and the tenant.
As of right now, the board is not making any decisions on urgent eviction notices, but without additional government intervention, this could start happening in the fall. If your tenant can’t financially fulfill their obligations to pay the rent, they can always start looking for cheaper properties to rent and move out.
Landlords cannot personally enforce the order granted by the Board. Examples of this include physically removing a tenant from the rental space or changing the locks. If a tenant hasn’t left by the termination date on the notice, an order can be enforced by the Court Enforcement Office, which again, unless some major laws are changed by the Ford government, could start occurring later this fall.
If you have concerns about your rights as a landlord and want to stay informed of new rules and policies regarding rent and evictions, check out the Landlord and Tenant Board for more information.