In our recent article, we discussed the serious backlogs and delays that are currently plaguing the Landlord and Tenant Board (the “LTB”), especially for those matters involving terminations of tenancies. If you are a landlord who is currently facing a situation wherein you are considering applying to the LTB to lawfully terminate a tenancy, you should ensure that you act quickly and precisely in order to avoid as much delay as possible.
So what can you as a landlord do to protect yourself as much as possible in light of these unprecedented delays?
As discussed in our previous article, the LTB has not done an adequate job of upholding its service standards and thus the unfortunate reality is such that it is very likely that a landlord in Toronto will have to wait months before receiving a hearing date. In light of this information, if you are a landlord who is dealing with a tenant who has defaulted on rent, prepare to file your N4 ‘Notice of Termination for Non-Payment of Rent’ immediately upon default, and in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act (the “RTA”). Furthermore, if you are a landlord who is looking to sell their property and the property is currently tenanted, consider asking your tenant for their opinion on how much time they would require to move out. This will ensure that talks between your tenant and yourself remain as amicable and productive as possible. If these discussions do not appear to be fruitful, prepare to file your ‘N12 Notice to End your Tenancy Because the Landlord, a Purchaser or a Family Member Requires the Rental Unit’ immediately and especially in advance of your scheduled closing date. See the full list of Notice to Terminate Forms available for landlords.
Unfortunately, the reality is that it is not uncommon for the relationship between a landlord and tenant to break down quickly once the landlord makes the tenant aware of his/her intention to lawfully terminate the tenancy. In that case, a landlord must be ready to prepare and serve a Notice of Termination.
The LTB is very stringent when it comes to properly prepared Notices of Termination. In fact, it is not uncommon to see matters before the LTB postponed or even completely thrown out if a Notice of Termination has been prepared and/or served in contravention to the provisions set out in the RTA.
For all computation of time in the RTA you should always remember that you don’t count the day you do something, but you do count the day on which the event ends. For example, when giving a tenant 14 days of notice with an N4 ‘Notice of Termination for Non-Payment of Rent’ pursuant to section 59(1) of the RTA, you don’t count the date you give the notice, but you do count the 14th day after you start counting. Please refer to the LTB’s Rules of Procedure pertaining to the ‘Calculation of Time’ for more detailed information regarding the computation of time at the LTB.
A landlord should ensure that they are familiar with the general rules surrounding notices of termination pursuant to sections 43-46 of the RTA. Furthermore, depending upon a landlord’s specific reason for terminating a tenancy, there are provisions throughout the RTA that must be adhered to. For example, if a landlord requires their property for their own personal use, they will have to ensure that they are familiar with sections 48-58 of the RTA.
Although not a formal requirement, as a landlord, you should make sure that you are physically present at your hearing regardless of whether you have enlisted the services of a legal representative. Adjudicator’s have been known to adjourn eviction hearings if they determine that a party should have been present, and this is so despite the fact that adjourning a hearing would only add further delay to an already delayed process.
On the day of your hearing, ensure that you arrive slightly earlier than the time indicated on your Notice of Hearing. This is because you will have to allow yourself enough time to check-in and find your hearing room. It is important to realize that the time indicated on your Notice of Hearing does not necessarily mean that your matter will be heard at that time. Rather, there will be many other people in the hearing room while each matter is being heard. Often, the adjudicator will endeavour to deal with simple matters first such as requests for adjournments, and then move onto more time consuming matters. You should be prepared to spend the majority of the day at the LTB on the day of your hearing. In some cases, the adjudicator might have to push your hearing to another date if there is not enough time to hear your matter.
Further, ensure that any evidence that you wish to submit to the adjudicator is organized and relevant. If you are experiencing hardship as a result of a tenant’s unwillingness to vacate (i.e. financial, health, etc.) you should bring relevant evidence demonstrating this hardship such as doctors notes, mortgage statements, property tax bills, etc., to your hearing. If you are a landlord who is attempting to sell their property but cannot due to a tenant’s unwillingness to vacate, it would be worthwhile to reach out to the purchaser of your property to see if they would be willing to act as a potential witness at your hearing. Finally, if a potential witness is willing to testify but unable to attend the hearing, reach out to the LTB in advance of your hearing in order to make the Board and the adjudicator aware of your intention to call a witness via telephone during the hearing. However, be prepared to answer to any adjudicator inquiries surrounding why the witness was unable to attend the hearing in person.