During your career as an Ontario landlord, there’s a fairly good chance that you’ll encounter a tenant who is charged with criminal activity or jailed while living in your unit. It’s important for landlords to understand their rights and the rights of their tenants, and to approach these situations in a professional manner in order to navigate the often complicated world of landlord-tenant relations.
What are the rights of your tenant if they are charged with criminal activity?
Finding out that a tenant has been arrested and jailed while living in your property is a regular occurence. If a tenant has been charged with criminal activity that is deemed unrelated to your property, it’s important for Ontario landlords to understand that your tenant still has rights, and it’s your responsibility to respect them to avoid any legal ramifications. If you are unsure whether a tenant who has been charged with criminal activity has broken provincial landlord-tenant regulations or the lease agreement, it is highly recommended to contact an attorney and the appropriate authorities in order to find out from an official source.
A tenant who has been jailed for criminal activities unrelated to your property cannot legally be evicted from the unit, as they have not technically broken the terms of the rental agreement. Whether or not the tenant will be able to make arrangements to pay rent and utilities costs while jailed is a separate matter, and future missed payments would be a legitimate reason for landlords to begin the eviction process – but this process cannot be undergone until lease agreement terms have been broken. It may also be possible for Ontario landlords to claim that the property has been abandoned by the tenant, which the Residential Tenancies Act deems as a legitimate reason to begin the eviction process.
What are your rights as an Ontario landlord?
As with any situation involving a bad tenant, it’s important for Ontario landlords to follow the rules and regulations in place in order to effectively navigate the situation from a legal standpoint. If your tenant has been arrested for conducting illegal activities within your home – including activities like illegal marijuana growing operations or drug dealing – then it is within your rights to evict the tenant for breaking the terms found in the rental agreements, this also applies to tenants who knowingly allow outsiders to commit criminal activities within your property. These same rights also apply if the criminal activities taking place within the property have resulted in substantial damages to your unit, allowing landlords to also pursue further legal actions if they choose.
What precautions should Toronto landlords take?
The first precaution that every landlord should take is to carefully screen tenants during the selection process. While this will not completely rule out the possibility of criminal activity, it is one way to minimize your risk. Documenting any complaints from neighbours or city officials is another recommendation for landlords, as it can be helpful if a situation brings you to the Landlord and Tenant Board, or if you are legally implicated in illegal acts taking place on your property.
There is precedent in the provinces of Ontario (Civil Remedies Act) and B.C. (Civil Forfeitures Act) for landlords to have property seized after criminal activity has taken place within a rental property. To avoid a situation where property can be seized or you may be implicated in an illegal activity, another highly recommended precautionary measure that should be taken is to ensure regular communication with tenants and to keep a watchful eye for any suspicious activity on your property. Staying diligent can save you from future headaches and potential losses – if you are familiar with neighbours, it may be a good idea to have them report any suspicious activities.
One of the most effective ways to combat having a problem tenant and dealing with tenants being charged with criminal activities is to hire the services of a professional property management team like Highgate Properties. Experienced property managers have the expertise needed to identify situations where tenants may be involved in illegal activities on your property, and have the skills needed to follow the correct processes in dealing with these situations. Hiring a property management company to take care of your day to day landlord duties free up time for the more important things in your life, and makes property investment more enjoyable and carefree.
For more information about the property management and realty services offered by the experts at Highgate Properties, contact us today.