Ontario - Tenants separated, advice needed.

18 Replies

Looking for advice on the following situation:

Unit was rented out to a couple - let's call them Bob and Alice. Both Bob and Alice are listed as tenants on the lease - but financials are mostly provided by Bob.

2 months into the lease, I am contacted by Bob's lawyer who claims the couple has separated and Bob is no longer living in the unit.

Bob's lawyer claims that Alice will no longer be able to continue paying rent without Bob's support. And in addition, she has been smoking pot in the unit which is in breach of our lease.

Bob's lawyer has asked for my authorization to prepare an eviction on my behalf because Alice is not willing to leave on her own accord.

Any advice on what the landlord should do here? From my perspective, both Bob and Alice are on the lease. They are only 2 months into the lease and I am out a month's worth of rent for the broker fee, plus it will take at least a month to fill the unit again. Also, I am not sure of any damages to the unit at this time. Is there anyway to recoup these funds as part of a "early lease termination agreement"? Does giving authorization to evict waive my ability to negotiate this type of agreement?

Any advice appreciated.

I'm not sure how different laws are in Canada, but I do not see why Bob's lawyer feels he can just start an eviction. His claims about pot are just claims with no proof. Your lease has both names, and that means they are both fully responsible for rent regardless of their break up. You could most likely keep the security deposit if they want to break the lease, and they are responsible for rent until you fill the unit again. So, unless there's a law in your area saying otherwise, their problem is not your problem. You can offer that they move out and have the unit super clean so that you can rent it asap, but until it is rented, they are responsible for paying rent. 

First thing though, do not let this random attorney try to boss you around.

Thanks for the reply Nicole.

Unfortunately Alice and Bob are not on good terms and Alice is unwilling to move out, and Bob is not willing to continue supporting her rent. This is why they are asking for my authorization to evict her.

Another potential issue is if I ignore this and Bob refuses to pay rent this month, I would then need to move to evict them for non-payment. 

This random lawyer appears to be trying to set the eviction up so only Alice is being evicted and not Bob.  Since Bob is his client, that makes sense.  But from your perspective both are on the lease, both are responsible for the rent, and you need to evict both if the rent is not paid.

Tell this lawyer that as long as the rent is paid, the tenants' interpersonal issues are their issues, not yours.  And that your lease is still in effect and as long as the rent is paid you have no reason to evict.  And that if the rent is not paid you will proceed with evicting them both.

Might want to have a chat with your own landlord/tenant attorney.  If you don't have one, now would be a good time to find one.

Thank you for the advice Jon. I am in the process of acquiring an attorney.

Bob no longer lives in the unit (he has a second home) and wants to end the lease early. Alice is refusing to leave the unit.

If she cannot qualify for the property on her own, I would not let him off the lease unless they both move out.  The two of them jointly agreed to lease your property.  The fact they broke up does not change the agreement they have with you.  If he doesn't want an eviction on his record he needs to sort this out with her.   Either continue paying the rent or get her to agree to leave.  As far as the smoking issue, that's a tough one to use as a basis for eviction.  Hard to prove.  And even if it is true and you can come up with enough proof to convince a judge, he's still part of the eviction.

Jon this makes sense and are my thoughts as well. Much appreciated.

Hello John, I was pretty interested by your problem, as we had a similar cases here in Québec.  Take everything that I'm writing with some skepticism and double check.  What Jon said look to be the most important, look with an attorney.  But at this point you should only contact them by writing.  The best is to send a priority mail with a postal stamp on it, as it would be useful as prove in front of the court.  Because the rent is unpaid you have now the right to evict them, see the link and document.

http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/forms/ 

The eviction need to be done to both of them as THEY are both biding with you to pay the rent.  The lawyers are trying to goofball you to get their customer out of the hook.  But when the court rule in favor of an eviction you will be able to go against Bob for your money, and look like he have the mean to pay you.  ***never assume that you will recover all your cost, sadly***  If after that Bob want to go against Alice he could in from of the small court, but that is not your problem.

Wish you the best

Bobs lawyer is just trying to get bob off the hook.

Joint and several. Look it up.

I like I remind folks that judgements against them, registered at Court of Queens Bench, will become a publicly searchable document & hinderance to many things including but not limited to:
- obtaining utilities in their name
- obtaining a loan
-obtaining the latest iPhone on credit
-obtaining future housing
-obtaining employment

Bob can continue to pay his friend to pretend he’s a lawyer (or maybe he really is?), but he will lose this judgement if your paperwork was and continues to be impeccable.

You could offer Bob's lawyer a buyout to terminate the lease early, if everyone moves out.  Bob and his lawyer are trying to make their problem into your problem.  Just say no.

Information provided thus far is correct.

As a long time Ontario landlord the following is the rule.

1) Both are on the lease, both are responsible for the rent as long as one resides in the premises.

2) The lawyer is blowing smoke and in reality very few lawyers on Ontario are aware of the regulations.

3) Only the landlord has the authority to initiate an eviction.

4) until March rent is not paid you have no grounds to evict.

5) Assuming rent is not paid you may choose to evict both tenants for non payment of rent.

6) Cost to initiate an eviction is $170 and will be lost if the tenant is not evicted or pays rent owing.

If you issue a N4 you will be releasing the tenant from all monies owed (rent damages etc) if they agree to both leave, and you get nothing except maybe your $170 back. 

What I would do in your situation, if March rent is not paid by midnight on the first, is to immediately file a L9. You really have no reason to evict. One late payment will not justify a eviction ruling. File the L9 on March 2nd and you will be successful and will not be giving up any rent owed.

At the hearing you can negotiate a termination of the lease, if they both agree, as well as all monies owed.

Send the husbands lawyer a letter informing him that your landlord tenant agreement with his client is not his business or his responsibility. If he chooses he may represent his client at his eviction hearing. Let him know that you will be following the rules as outlined in the Ontario RTA.

You do not need a lawyer if you use a L9, it will be a slam dunk.

If you wish you may hire a paralegal that specialises in landlord tenant issues. Don't waste your money on a lawyer. They do not know the RTA and will be outside their wheel house at a LTB hearing.

Thomas, grateful for your detailed and informed post.

As it stands, it seems unlikely that Bob will not continue paying rent on Alice's behalf. 

Given this, what are your thoughts on providing Bob and his lawyer the option to propose a buyout, assuming they can get Alice to cooperate?

I know that was directed elsewhere but I feel compelled to stick my nose in... keep in mind, both individuals listed on the lease are responsible for the duration. That’s what legal contracts are for. You’re under no obligation to even entertain otherwise. So certainly don’t feel pressured to do so. I MIGHT be willing to let them out early IF all rent is paid on time in until I could find new tenants AND the unit was returned in spotless condition without incident. ... short of that it would be the stick, not the carrot. And if the previous mentioned happens without hassle make sure to have them sign a forfeit of lease so Alice doesn’t try and move back in (or not leave). In spite of your brutally biased against landlords Act over there you’re in a solid position here.

Thank you Kris, it's a good reminder. Appreciate it.

@John Smith

"providing Bob and his lawyer the option to propose a buyout"

In my opinion your goal should be to collect rent owed. I would not bother dealing with Bob and his lawyer as that is only a issue between Bob and his wife. March 1st is approaching very fast. Concentrate on collecting rent not negotiating. Time is of the essence and in Ontario if you hesitate you will be sc**wed. File a L9 on the 2nd to legally protect yourself till this irons out. If you do not you will regret it.

You have no grounds to evict and no reason to focus on anything other than collecting rent. You need to have a sit down with the tenant (wife) and try to assess exactly how she intends to move forward. Make sure she understands that if rent is not paid on the first you will be filing a L9 to collect. She must understand that she will not live for free and that she and her husband will be treated as one and the same. If she is evicted she will have difficulty renting in the future. You must make her understand that even though her life is in a mess you will show zero compassion and due what is ever legally possible to collect. If sc**wing her over is the end result too bad for her. You can not care about anything beyond the money.

Chance of evicting at this point is zero.  


UPDATE:

@Thomas S.

I went to the Bob's bank today to verify the cheque and they told me that it is no good. 

I am moving forward and will be filing the L9 right away.

I have a few questions as this is the first time for me dealing with this.

1) Do I need to notify Bob and Alice separately? How much notice do I need to give them, if any?

2) Would it be ill-advised to also inspect the property at this time (with appropriate notice)?

3) When filing the L9, which address should I send to? Since Bob is no longer living at the unit.

4) Can someone give me general timeline/what to expect after filing the L9?

5) If anyone can recommend a paralegal that may be able to help guide me through this in Toronto area that would be much appreciated.

Thank you all again for the support through this stressful situation.

Also Thomas - any reason NOT to file an N4 along with the L9?

Even if we don't go for an eviction right away, does it hurt to provide the notice? That way, if the tenants do not pay even after being ordered to do so via the L9, we can file an L1.

Thoughts?

One follow up suggestion, sign up for tenant verification services (google that), they have a form you can get signed releasing you To report payment status to credit agencies... I also use them for credit checks when required. Hella keep people a smidge more honest if they know being late/ delinquent results in a credit hit.

@John Smith

1) When filing a L9 you are not responsible for notifying your tenants. They will receive the notice from the board in the mail.

2) You may if you wish send a notice to inspect, this would also be a good opportunity to speak in person with the wife.

3) You only need to use the address of the rental unit.

4) If you file the L9 you may get a hearing this month or possibly next month, it depends on when they schedule hearings in your area.

If you send a N4 the likely hood is that the board will rule that the N4/L1 will have caused confusion to the tenant and may deny the L1 and the L9 applications. Or worse allow the tenant to terminate their lease and you will not receive any settlement. A N4/L1 relinquishes your right to collect any monies owed.

When the L9 is success, not if, and they do not pay you immediately have the L9 converted to a Small Claims Court ruling.  You can then garnish wages.

What happened with March rent. You need to get the bank to provide written confirmation the check is no good or go ahead and deposit in your bank to get a returned NSF notification.

You will need to provide proof at the hearing that rent was not paid.

1) file the L9 in person at your Service Ontario office. Fee will be $190.

2) If you have NSF fees on the returned rent check include them on the  L9.

3) You also charge a $20 admin fee on the L9 when you have NSF checks.

4) At the hearing you request that tenant pay all fees in addition to rent owing.

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