Landlord Locked Out of Rental Property For Weeks

by Chris on March 26, 2012

A landlord in Ottawa was locked out of his rental property by his deadbeat tenant, despite an eviction order

According to reports from the Ottawa Citizen, which has been following the landlord’s struggle to evict his tenant, the problems started last November, after cheques for first and last month’s rent turned out to be written on a nonexistent account.

The case dragged on for months while the tenant ignored the previous eviction order and instead asked for a review. He remained in the property rent-free until the case was heard again. After deciding the tenant’s excuses were frivolous, the Board re-issued the eviction order, but the delay allowed the tenant to remain until March 15

Meanwhile, the tenant changed the locks, and failed to provide the landlord with a key. When the landlord provided advance notice and went to the property for a routine inspection, he asked the police to accompany him, as was suggested by the LTB. The police were unclear whether the landlord could break the locks and enter the property to have a look around, according to the report.

After several hours of police interaction, and providing a stack of legal documents, including the lease, the orders — and a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act, the landlord still was unable to access the property.

He may have to wait until the tenant vacates before he can find out the extent of any damage to the property.

The story garnered support for the landlord, and others began to share their own experiences with the newspaper and online. Many feel the problem lies with burdensome delays in getting in front of the Landlord and Tenant Board. Beginning in January of this year, the Board adopted a new scheduling protocol that was designed to speed up hearings for non-payment of rent.

Landlords also expressed concerns that they cannot get access to eviction records that would signal whether a tenant is a repeat offender.

The landlord here did a number of things that will help him recover in the end. For instance, there were two occupants applying to move in, and the landlord had them both sign the lease, allowing him to hold either one of them responsible for the rent.

He also made every effort to inspect the property. The RTA provides the right to inspect the rental property, and the RCMP last winter issued a statement to landlords that inspections are critical to deter serious crimes, like marijuana grow ops where landlords could be held accountable.

The landlord admitted that sometimes he is willing to take a chance on tenants. For instance, he has another rental with tenants who he says had a less than perfect history. Though rent is sometimes late, he feels those tenants are hardworking and earnest, and he vowed that so long as they remain, he will never raise their rent.

Still, stories like this one can strike fear in the heart of any landlord.  It’s important to remember that you have tools at your disposal to help overcome or minimize income loss from a bad tenant.

A credit report provides an indication of a rental applicant’s level of financial responsibility. With it, the landlord can catch a glimpse of legal or financial troubles that may be repeated. A credit report also can “out” a tenant who is scamming the landlord by using false information.   Careful tenant screening is key to preventing loss of  income.

It is possible to train tenants to pay rent on time if you Report Tenant Pay Habits.  By enforcing a strict rule of law, and then reporting bad tenants to a credit reporting agency, you keep the tenants honest, and flag problem tenants. 

Another way to minimize the impact of delinquent rent is filing eviction paperwork as soon as possible after you discover the problem.

Speaking with the previous landlord before renting to an applicant is a valuable way to avoid problem tenants — and it is one way that landlords can stick together and help to solve a problem that affects them all.

According to the news reports, the tenant in this case earlier was charged with fraud for alleging taking money from a widow in need of home repair, then disappearing without doing the work.

There’s nothing that says a landlord must reject a tenant because of their background. But it is preferable to know what you are getting yourself into.

Just ask this tenant’s next landlord.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam Lachapelle March 27, 2012 at 5:19 am

With an eviction order in hand, he can engage the services of the sherriff.
The sherriff is authorized to enter the premises even if the lock has to be broken and escort the occupants out of the building.
Police are not knowledgeable about landlord-tenant issues.
The sherriff is the next step in the eviction process as stated on the LTB website.

Marv May 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

Thanks Sam…the problem with many landlords is that they are not aware of their rights and as you aptly put it, neither are the police. This is a civil matter and often police officers are not well versed in civil law. Hopefully there will be other TVS/ATS members here who can share their experiences and contribute with helpful tips & advice for landlords…in every province.

Marv May 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I want to add two more thing which ALL landlords can do with high risk tenants, and you may wish to advise the prospective tenant from the start that this is what you will do in the event of a breach of lease.
1.) As Chris pointed out, advise the prospective tenant via Notice to Tenant form that tenant pay habits are reported to a Credit Reporting Agency (TVS/ATS) each month.
2.) Any breach of lease that includes, non rent payment, damaged rental property, any criminal offence(s)…will be reported to the local police jurisdiction so that it becomes a record in his/her name. Albeit a record that is for records and information only. The statement will have a profound impact on high risk tenants.
You CAN report any breach of lease agreement as noted above to the Police for—records and information purposes. Every police department should accept your landlord report. Why? If the tenant fails to pay rent, that is technically a fraud, difficult to prove intent, but it is a fraud. If there is similar fact evidence (many landlords being ripped off) with respect to non payment or damaged rental property, the Individual can be charged as it is easier to prove criminal intent.
By doing this you will be making impact statements to the prospective tenant(s) and will minimize your risk of what happened in the story above. Don’t worry about offending the prospective tenant, you make the rules, you own the property, you are the Boss! You need to establish that fact right from the get go. You can still be seen as being a good landlord, do it in a professional manner. Explain the need for you to do this. i.e. I have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in this rental, it is my responsibility to protect it, I trust that you understand and appreciate that. 🙂

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