Can my landlord evict me during this time?
Short answer is no. In normal circumstances, the first step is for the landlord to give the tenant a notice in writing that they want the tenant to move out. Landlords must use an official notice from the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB). Tenants may be able to avoid eviction by simply stopping the behaviour complained of in the notice or by doing what the notice requests, such as pay rent arrears. The notice explains what needs to be done and provides a deadline in which a tenant is to comply.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, landlords can still give eviction notices, however, the LTB is suspending the issuance of eviction orders and all hearings related to eviction applications until further notice. The only exception are matters which relates to an urgent issue such as an illegal act or serious impairment of safety.
Does this mean I can’t do anything about my renting situation?
Although the LTB is not holding hearings and its counter services are closed, there are a few applications that can still be filed online:
• Form L1 – Application to Evict a Tenant for Non-payment of Rent & to Collect Rent the Tenant Owes
• Form L2 – Application to End a Tenancy and Evict a Tenant
• Form T2 – Application about Tenant Rights
• Form T6 – Tenant Application about Maintenance
Landlords and tenants may still submit their applications but will need to wait until the LTB is in full operations again to get a hearing date.
My landlord is requesting to enter my unit, can I refuse?
Normally, landlords can only enter a tenant’s unit in specific circumstances. To do so, the landlord must give the tenant 24 hours written notice, state what day and time they will enter (between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.), and state the reason for entering the unit.
An exception to this requirement is in case of emergency. If the landlord has a valid reason for entering the unit, a tenant cannot refuse to let the landlord in. During this unusual time, everyone must work together help stop the spread of COVID-19. Landlords are encouraged to request entry only in urgent situations and to follow physical distancing guidelines.
If your landlord is selling a tenant-occupied home or looking for a new tenant when the current lease is up, is it strongly advised to avoid in-person showings. Landlords are also subject to the Human Rights Code and have a duty to accommodate tenants under protected grounds, including people with disabilities. This is relevant in the case that the tenant has a immune-compromising condition. To conduct an inperson showing could lead to a complaint under the Code.
My tenant is refusing to pay rent, what can I do?
Tenants who can pay rent must do so to the best of their abilities. As landlords, you are entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day that an eviction order cannot be enforced. Naturally, in the current situation, some tenants may find it difficult to pay rent.
It is pertinent that landlords and tenants work together to get through this time. Legally, the Residential Tenancies Act does not allow landlords to charge fees or penalties for late rent payments.
Since it is nearly impossible for landlords to obtain eviction orders at this time, it may be beneficial for both parties to negotiate and work out a deferral of rent or payment plan than to push towards litigation down the road.
My new tenant was supposed to move in, but now wants to
break the lease, can they do that?
Tenants have a few options if they want to move out before the term ends, get the landlord to agree to end the tenancy, assign or sublet the place to a new tenant, give notice if landlord refuses to allow an assignment, or get the Landlord and Tenant Board to end the tenancy.
In addition, there may be other reasons which allow a tenant to leave without giving proper notice; there is a serious danger to the tenant’s health or safety, the place is not fit to live in, or when the landlord will not stop harassing the tenant. A tenant cannot simply refuse to move because they are cautious and don’t want to move during this time.
If a proper lease was signed, as a landlord, you can advise that you will attempt to find a new tenant but make clear that until such time that a new tenant moves in, the current tenant is responsible for rent. If the tenant refuses, the landlord may have a right to sue for rent arrears.
Every situation is unique and may warrant different solutions. It is always
advisable to see to a legal professional to assess your situation and understand your rights and obligations before taking any actions. This is particularly important in a time of crisis such as now.
Christopher Chu, Barrister and Solicitor
Chris Chu Law
80 Bloor Street W, Toronto, ON M5S 2V1