Earlier this month, Premier Doug Ford announced that all evictions will be put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic until further notice.
“We don’t want you to worry about your job. We also don’t want you to worry about how you’re going to make rent this month,” Ford said at a press conference.
“That’s why I’ve directed that all eviction orders be suspended until further notice. We want to make sure you and your family can stay in your home during this difficult time. So you can put your health and the health of others first.”
And that’s great news since the pandemic has created financial uncertainty for many, many Canadians.
But when this pandemic runs its course, it’s only a matter of time before evictions start back up again. And if the months prior to coronavirus were any indication of how things will proceed, Torontonians can likely expect a spike in evictions.
So what happens if you’re being evicted?
Landlords in Ontario can’t evict you for no reason, although sometimes it might feel that way.
The main reasons a landlord will try to evict are:
- You don’t pay rent
- You’re consistently late with rent
- You’re doing something illegal on the property
- You’ve damaged the property or cause serious issues for the landlord or other tenants
- The landlord is planning on tearing down or repurposing the property
- The landlord wants to move into the property
If you’re being evicted for any of the above reasons the landlord must give you written notice a certain number of days in advance. The amount of time depends on the reason but it varies anywhere between 10 days and 120 days.
Once you’ve been given the notice to GTFO you have a couple of options before a sheriff comes to move you out and change the locks.
How can you fight the eviction?
In many cases, you can stop an eviction by just paying whatever is owed and any additional fees that are outlined in the eviction notice. If your notice is for late rent you can stop the eviction process by paying up. In any case, always make sure to keep any payment receipts so you can show them to the Board if necessary.
Before the landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an eviction notice they have to give you a written notice first and time to pay any rent that you owe. According to Steps to Justice, you might also have to pay extra costs to your landlord on top of the rent owed to stop the eviction.
How much you have to pay depends on what steps your landlord takes before you pay.
- If you pay before the date in the eviction notice you just have to pay the owed rent plus next month’s rent
- If you pay after the Landlord and Tenant Board has sent you an eviction notice you can pay and apply to void the eviction notice. If you don’t apply for that there’s a chance the sheriff will still show up to kick you out.
- If you pay after the eviction date but before the sheriff comes, the Board will decide if you’ve paid enough to void the eviction notice. If your landlord has also paid fees to the sheriff for the eviction process you’ll also have to pay those to your Board Trust account.
- If the landlord is trying to evict you for damages like a broken window or some other damage you can get it fixed and/or pay whatever the notice is asking.
- If you can’t pay your way out of it, such as if you’re being evicted for illegal activities or causing problems, the case will go to a hearing. At a hearing the Landlord Tenant Board will decide whether or not to order your eviction.
If you’re planning on fighting the eviction, first check to see if any mistakes were made on the eviction notice because as that will null and void the application.
If everything has been done by the book you can see if you can still try to work something out with your landlord before the hearing, either through a mediator or one-on-one. If you do manage to come to an agreement just make sure to get it in writing. Again, keep your receipts!
If you can’t come to an agreement, you always have the choice to lawyer up and challenge your landlord’s version of the events and give reasons why the Board shouldn’t evict you at the hearing.
In the case of a landlord moving into the property or the building being repurposed or torn down you pretty much have to prove that they’re not doing it in good faith. For example, they’re actually just trying to get rid of you in order to turn the home into an Airbnb.
What happens if you don’t move out?
If you don’t move by the date the eviction order says you have to, a sheriff will come and move you. They will also change the locks. This can happen on any given weekday, even during the winter, and they don’t have to tell you when it’s happening.
It’s worth noting that only the sheriff can physically evict you. By law no one else can evict you. So if the landlord, a private company or a random burly dude comes to move you out that’s illegal. However, the sheriff can get help from the police if they’re worried about violence but the police themselves can’t evict you.
What happens to your stuff if you’re evicted?
If you move out on time and leave anything behind, the landlord can pretty much do whatever they want with your stuff – sell it, trash it, keep it … So don’t leave anything behind.
If the sheriff comes to kick you out you have exactly 72 hours to get your stuff. The landlord is required to keep your belongings either in the place or close by in a storage unit. You are allowed to collect your things anytime between 8 am and 8 pm.
If you don’t come to collect your stuff within those 72 hours the landlord can do whatever they want with it.
But if you need extra time you can try and make an arrangement with the landlord and get that agreement in writing.
Failure on the landlord’s part to follow any of these rules means you have a couple of options. One is to file a complaint with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s Investigation and Enforcement Unit and they’ll open an investigation which could result in the landlord being fined between $25,000 and $100,000.
Option two is filing a T2 Application about Tenant’s Rights with the Board, giving the Board the ability to order the landlord to return the tenant’s property, pay to replace it, or pay a fine of up to $25,000.
And if my landlord tries to evict you themselves during the pandemic?
This is illegal. So if they’ve just threatened to do something call the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit and get legal help. And if the landlord tries to lock you out or takes any other physical steps to remove you from your house or apartment, call the police.