As the province of Ontario seeks to return to some semblance of normalcy over the coming months, businesses are expected to begin the slow process of reopening. This means that the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) will slowly begin to ramp up to its usual capacity, and that provincial rules surrounding COVID-19 will gradually begin to relax. Even though we all have more empathy in a time of crisis, bad tenants have not suddenly stopped being bad tenants.
If you’re a Toronto landlord who has been dealing with bad tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic, the best way to protect yourself and your property is to begin the process of dealing with them. Being proactive in your dealings will allow you to tackle problems as soon as the province allows, letting you conduct any necessary repairs or maintenance in the interim, or do anything else you have to do in order to remedy the situation. At Highgate, we always stress the importance of clear communication with tenants, and many situations can be resolved just by talking it out. Everyone is very high-strung during this pandemic, and it’s easy for misunderstandings to arise. A simple phone call or email can solve almost any problem, but where it can’t, you should protect your own interests.
COVID-19 eviction process changes in Ontario
COVID-19 has left a mark on every sector in Ontario, including the real estate industry. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the province of Ontario has made temporary changes to how the process of eviction works. While landlords are still able to give eviction warnings to bad tenants, the province recommends establishing fair arrangements to work out issues until they can be solved officially.
The Landlord and Tenant Board is currently accepting most common applications from landlords, but with the exception of illegal acts or serious safety concerns, no new eviction orders are being issued until further notice. ServiceOntario Centres are also currently limiting their intake of applications, giving priority to emergency situations. LTB hearings are currently suspended until further notice, with the exception of serious emergency situations. Unless your tenant has conducted illegal acts on your property or poses a serious threat to other tenants or neighbours, Toronto landlords must wait until the pandemic subsides to take action.
Prepare now to ensure you’re ready to act
While you’re waiting for the province and the LTB to return to normalcy, it’s important to act carefully and ensure that you abide by the law. The provincial government is taking its COVID-19 measures very seriously, making it especially important that you act with an abundance of caution and care. Acting hastily now will only cause further headaches down the line.
Instead, use this time to prepare for when the LTB is able to accept new hearings and have the appropriate resources to provide new eviction orders. Unless your situation is classified as an emergency by the LTB, this will be the most effective course of action. Take measures to properly document evidence of your tenant’s violations of the rental agreement – this will all come in handy once new hearings are being held. If you’ve already made attempts to make fair arrangements with your tenant, this documentation could prove to be especially important.
It’s also a good idea to submit applications online using the LTB e-File as soon as possible to ensure that you avoid any delays that may be caused by the Board’s reopening. It is reasonable to assume that applications will be heard on a first-come, first-serve basis if they do not fall into the category of an emergency situation. Do not use mail or fax as there is a high likelihood that the LTB will be processing applications remotely when it reopens.
With any luck, the Landlord and Tenant Board will resume regular operations before we know it. Until then, it’s important to be extremely careful in your handling of any situation with a tenant which may land you before the Board. The best course of action is to prepare yourself for when hearings and eviction orders resume – document evidence and send the appropriate applications to ensure that your problems are addressed as soon as possible.
HighGate Properties specializes in Toronto property management and real estate investment. For information about the property management and realty services offered by our experienced team, contact HighGate Properties today.