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.
Table of Contents - Step-By-Step Guide to Evicting a Tenant
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.
Try communication 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, 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. If your tenant continues to commit infractions and you want them gone, your next easy route to solving the issue is to politely ask them to leave.
To be clear, if you have a tenant who ignores you when you ask them to shape up, the odds are they will refuse to leave unless you have a legal reason to send them packing.
What crosses the line?
As a result, the first step in evicting a tenant is to determine if they have committed an infraction that merits eviction. Here are some of the most common things a tenant can do to be legally evicted:
- 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 somewhat tricky.
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. Then evict.
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Unless they’re doing something that might require a trip to the local prison, the quest to evict a problem tenant will likely be a long one. 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.
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. 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.
Set a grace period date
Once you’ve filled out the paperwork with your local tenant board, you will need to provide a copy 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. This is when most entrenched tenants give up the fight and move somewhere else.
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.
That done, you’ll have to hunker down and wait for the hearing date. When the day arrives, you will need to go to the meeting in person, or your application for eviction may be dismissed.
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.
How to Evict a Tenant from a Rental Property
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