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As an investor, one of the most necessary-yet-unfortunate things that you will need to learn is how to evict a tenant.
When you begin in the world of real estate investment in Canada, no one really wants to evict a tenant. The hope is that when you put the time and money required into a real estate rental project, you will be rewarded with a tenant who at least pretends to respect your property while occupying your rental space.
Obviously, that isn’t always the case. Try as you might, you just may end up with one or more tenants in your long-term rental who have to be ejected from the premises. So, it is important you know how to evict a tenant in case the time comes.
I know I have had to deal with my unfortunate share of bad tenants, and while I would much rather work things out, sometimes the only real option you have is to evict a bad tenant before they cause any more damage.
When that time arrives, you will want to be sure that you’re following the eviction process and staying on the right side of the law. Here’s what you need to know.
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Try Communicating With Your Tenant
Before you start worrying about how to evict a tenant, I suggest making sure there is not another option you could consider first. Most of the infractions committed by tenants in a rental can be sorted out with a conversation. If they’re doing something that irritates you, or if they’re breaking minor rules, stopping by (or having your property manager stop by) to explain your frustrations could go a long way toward mitigating them. After that, if your tenant continues to break the rules and you want them gone, your next easy route to solving the issue is to politely ask them to leave.
However, in my experience tenants won’t simply vacate the property because you asked them to – especially if they were already causing problems. So, before you start looking into how to evict a tenant, you need to make sure they have already crossed the line.
What Crosses The Line?
The first step you need to take when looking to evict a tenant is to determine whether they have committed any eviction-worthy offenses. Otherwise, you will need to find another solution.
Some eviction-worthy actions include:
- Failure to pay rent
- Establishing a consistent pattern of late rental payments
- Diminishing the quality of life of other residents in their building or on their street
- Causing extensive damage to the property (failure to mow the lawn doesn’t count)
- Committing a crime on the premises
- Housing too many residents on the property
Beyond those obvious risks to the health, safety and serenity of your other tenants and your bottom line, evicting a tenant can be difficult.
If there is one mistake I see investors make constantly while figuring out how to evict a tenant, it is evicting a tenant without proof. Even if you are absolutely certain that they are breaking the rules and deserve to be evicted, without proof you are not likely to get it past the courts.
So, once you’ve determined that your tenant has done something to be legally evicted from your property, you should get into a habit of collecting proof of their infraction. If they’re paying rent late, make sure to have evidence of late receipt. If they’re not paying rent, be sure to keep copies of your written requests for payment. The idea is to establish concrete evidence that you have no other option but to evict.
If you suspect that your resident is committing a crime on your property, don’t try to collect proof. Call the police and let them find proof. Then evict your tenant afterwards. Do not compromise your own safety for the sake of an eviction.
Unless they’re doing something that might require a trip to the local prison, walking through the process of how to evict a tenant will likely take a while. Once you begin legal proceedings, you can expect a months-long battle to have your tenant removed. As a result, before you cross your first “t” or dot your first “I,” understand that patience will be at a premium, and you won’t do yourself any good by getting restless.
I know it is frustrating, but I promise you, putting the process off will only cost you more money in the long run, so its better to get the process started as early as possible. I have found that being familiar with how to evict a tenant helps the process go by much smoother because you can respond to requests for proof and information much faster once you know what to expect.
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Provide Written Notice
Once you’ve established that your tenant has committed an eviction-worthy infraction, the first step is to provide written notice. This isn’t as simple as sketching out a strongly-worded letter and pinning it to the front door of your rental property. Providing legal written notice first means contacting your local tenant board to get the correct forms needed to start the process. The official name of your tenant board will change depending on which province you call home. In Ontario, you’ll want to contact the Landlord and Tenant Board. In Quebec, it’s the Regie du Logement.
Do a little light research to find out the specific name of your province’s tenant board, and they should be able to provide you with the proper legal documentation to provide your tenant.
Then, I find one of the best ways to deliver the notice is to both send them a copy electronically and hand-deliver a second copy. This way you can verify that they received the notice and they cannot claim they were not notified. If you are worried about delivering the notice yourself, you can usually have the notice delivered by the local sheriff’s office instead. It’s a good idea to bring someone with you that can record you giving the notice in person.
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Determine a Grace Period
Once you’ve filled out the paperwork with your local tenant board, you will need to provide a copy of the notice to your tenant. There will be a grace period from the time that you file the paperwork and give it to your tenant until the date you can begin legal proceedings.
This date is not the official eviction date. It is a space during which the tenant can either move out or sort out your problems (provided that’s an option). The time range will vary depending on the infractions the tenant has committed and their personal circumstances.
The idea with the grace period is to give your tenant some time to pack up and get out before you have to take things before the local authorities. I find that this is when most stubborn tenants give up the fight and move somewhere else. After all, if they know they are going to lose the battle, there is no point in putting up a fight.
Landlord / Tenant Board Hearing
If your tenant still refuses to move out, you can return to the local tenant board, file another round of paperwork, and schedule a hearing. Be prepared to supply an application fee. Once the date is established, you’ll deliver the update to your violating tenant before returning to the board and filing a third set of paperwork to officially acknowledge that you have delivered the notification of the hearing.
In Ontario, there are two forms of hearings that you can get: a telephone/video hearing in which things are handled over Zoom or a conference call, or a written hearing in which both sides are able to provide a written copy of their side of the story for consideration.
Upholding the eviction
Provided the hearing goes your way, the local tenant board will uphold your eviction. At that point, the board will determine an official eviction date for your tenant. If your tenant isn’t gone by the date specified by the tenant board, the local Sheriff’s Office will receive permission to eject the tenant from the home. As a landlord, you are not allowed to have the locks changed or evict a tenant without having a Sheriff’s Deputy present.
No one wants to have to evict a tenant, but if that day comes for you, follow these steps to ensure you’re doing it the right way.
Frequently Asked Eviction Questions
Can I Evict My Tenant For Having Pets On My Property?
The rules for prohibiting pets in a rental property vary from province to province.
In Ontario, the Residential Tenancies Act prohibits no-pet clauses in lease agreements. So, unless your tenant is allowing the pet to damage your property or cause problems with the other tenants, you cannot evict them for having one.
In provinces such as Quebec and British Columbia, you are currently permitted to uphold a no-pets clause in your rental agreements. However, if your lease does not specify that your tenant may not have a pet, you will not be able to evict them.
Can I Evict a Tenant To Move Into a Unit Myself/Move Family Into The Unit?
You can legally evict a tenant for personal or family use, however, in order to do so you must provide sufficient notice.
If you are trying to figure out how to evict a tenant in Ontario for personal use, the full process is outlined here.
How Much Does It Cost To Evict a Tenant?
In Ontario the estimated cost to evict a tenant is $2500. However this price may vary in other provinces.
In addition to the cost of the eviction process, you may also need to pay for repairs and missed rents yourself if you are unable to get the funds out of your former tenant.
What Are Some Alternatives to Eviction?
One of the most popular alternatives to eviction is called “Cash For Keys.”
In this process, instead of evicting a tenant, you offer them a cash incentive to voluntarily end their own tenancy. This process is great because it can be used to help investors regain control of their units much faster than an eviction may permit.
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