There’s not a landlord who’s been in business for long who hasn’t had a tenant fail to pay on time — or at all. When it happens, the speed and consistency of the landlord’s response will statistically dictate their success.
There are really only two types of actions a landlord can pursue: chasing the tenant for payment or eviction. Errors and mistakes abound, so let’s talk about some of them.
1. Irregular Enforcement of Rules
One of the great powers that we have as landlords is deciding when to let something slide and when to really come down hard on a tenant. The response to a failure to pay, as well as the enforcement of late fees and such, should be consistently applied.
Letting things slide rarely turns out well and can be dangerous. Give a tenant an inch, and many will take a mile. It also creates a bad precedent that may be used as a successful defense in court, particularly if you do it more than once for the same tenant.
2. Waiting to Start Eviction
It’s easy, especially if you like a particular tenant, to get strung along with a series of partial payments and/or excuses for no payments at all — and there are definitely (very rare) tenants who deserve that kind of treatment.
But what you don’t want is to gamble with the odds or get strung along by a tenant you aren’t fond of or don’t think is being honest with you.
The easiest way to do that is to stick to your guns in all cases: deliver the 14-day N4 – Notice To End A Tenancy Early For Non-payment of Rent notice the day immediately after the rent is due, and proceed in all ways as though you’re going to go through with the eviction.
You can always stop an eviction, but if you wait too long to start one, you’ll end up in a less advantageous position for no real reason.
If, in reply to your eviction notice, the tenant agrees to leave at the end of that month so their last month’s rent pays them up to date, make sure you get them to sign an N11 – Agreement To Terminate Tenancy form which commits them irrevocably to leaving on that date!
3. Accepting Partial Payments
You have to know the Province of Ontario laws very well when it comes to partial payments. Taking a partial rent payment may force a landlord to have to start the eviction process all over again!
Payment plans may cause the same issue. Check with a really experienced eviction attorney or paralegal, and know your options vis-à-vis the Landlord and Tenant Tribunal.
If you do, after advice, take a partial payment, definitely continue on with the Notice to Vacate process in case the tenant does not come up with the missing balance of their rent payment.
4. Performing “Constructive” Evictions
Some landlords attempt to force nonpaying tenants out by doing things like turning off the utilities (called a “constructive eviction”). This is straight up illegal in Ontario.
Even if your tenant doesn’t pay, you are never allowed to make a home unlivable when there are people living in it. The penalties for doing this can be pretty steep, so plan on going to the Tribunal — that’s what the eviction process exists for.
5. Trying to Shortcut the Law
To avoid any physical altercations with tenants, keep your distance and follow the proper eviction process using the Sherriff to deliver any and all notices to the tenant.
6. Not Maintaining the Upper Hand
When a tenant fails to pay on time they in effect gain the upper hand on the landlord. To restore balance in the relationship, the landlord must pursue eviction. The longer you wait to do so, the further behind the rent falls and the greater the upper hand the tenant achieves.
Eviction notices should be delivered immediately in the proper, proscribed manner – don’t let any tenant excuses thwart this act!
Evictions have a timeline that must be followed, and the sooner a landlord starts that clock, the better their chance of regaining the upper hand in the relationship. This mindset should be carried forward through every step of the eviction process.
Keep Up To Date With Toronto's Real Estate Market
Every month we communicate with our readers to give them accurate insights and statistics about what's happening in the Toronto and GTA real estate markets.
Subscribe to our free monthly FYI Newsletter HERE.