Being a landlord is a great idea when you have excellent tenants. However, when problems develop, things get complicated so consider the following things you should know as a landlord.
Often, landlords and tenants have verbal agreements about the rent and utilities and then the tenant moves in. However, a written lease agreement is best as it should clearly illustrate what the agreement was between the parties, in case there is any contention in the future.
According to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), a landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. Therefore, the landlord is usually responsible for mowing the lawn and shovelling the snow. If you are a landlord and don’t want to do those tasks yourself, consider hiring a reputable company to do it for you. If you want the tenant to be responsible for these tasks, consider creating a separate agreement detailing these responsibilities and ensure that you are compensating the tenant for performance of these tasks.
A common problem for landlords is tenants who do not pay the rent or do not pay it on time. Often, the landlord wants to evict the tenant for the unpaid rent. The proper way to do this is to serve the tenant(s) with the relevant Notice document (N4) and to ensure that this Notice has the correct termination date on it. It is very important to review the Notice because if there is a mistake on the Notice, the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) will likely not be able to correct it and the landlord may face additional delays in obtaining an eviction order. All Notices can be found on the LTB website.
Another common situation is that the tenant agrees to transfer the utilities to the tenant’s name and assume payment of the utilities. The inevitable problem is when the tenant refuses to pay for the utilities, which are still all under the landlord’s name. Since the RTA says a landlord cannot cut vital services to the rental unit, the landlord is in the unenviable situation of paying money to service providers (or putting their own credit score into jeopardy) for utilities that a tenant is using and not paying for. In this situation, the landlord may choose to serve an N5 Notice on the tenant and file an L2 application with the LTB, if necessary. At the LTB hearing, the Chair may make an order for the tenant to transfer the utilities to their name and pay any amounts owed to the service providers, otherwise the tenancy will be terminated. However, if the tenant does not do so, the landlord would have to make a claim in the Small Claims Court (assuming the amount in question is under $25,000) to get an order with an actual dollar value.
Non-profit Housing Co-operatives (Co-ops)
Another piece of legislation, apart from the RTA, that may come into play in a co-operative housing situation is the Co-operative Corporations Act (CCA). The CCA has a section that details the termination of a member’s membership and occupancy rights in a non-profit housing co-op.
While it is not a landlord/tenant situation, a member can still be evicted for failure to pay the monthly housing charge. The co-op still needs to give the member the proper Notice form (can be found on the LTB website) with the correct termination date. While the procedure is similar to that of residential landlords, there are some differences in categories for which members can be evicted. For example, a member risks eviction for persistent non-payment/late payment of regular monthly housing charges or for misrepresentation of their income. In some situations, the co-op may apply immediately to the LTB for a hearing date after serving the member with the proper Notice form.
Should matters proceed to the LTB hearing stage, remember that we can represent you in your matter so that you do not have to personally attend at the hearing.
If you are a landlord or represent a co-op in or around the Timmins area, call our office to see how we can best assist you with your unique situation.
Florence Gonsalves Associate Lawyer - May 31st , 2016