April and May brought largely good news for landlords as most reported that tenants paid either all or some of the rent owed.
Landlord and Tenant Boards across Canada encouraged tenants who were impacted by the pandemic to work with their landlords on an installment plan, and most did.
However, at the same time, the provinces put into place a freeze on eviction orders. This was designed to help renters comply with stay-at-home restrictions, but some rules were so broad they applied to evictions already in process against tenants who had stopped paying rent long before the pandemic.
Not surprisingly, some tenants are taking advantage while landlords’ hands are tied. In one example, a Toronto couple is out $20,000 in lost rent and temporary housing costs because their tenant would not vacate the townhouse that the owners were planning to move back into.
Under the tenancy rules, the couple were forced to pay the tenant one month’s rent as compensation for termination of the lease. The tenant challenged the lease termination, but was ordered to leave on March 31, according to a news report. Then came COVID-19. Now, the landlords cannot enforce the order during the eviction moratorium. The tenant remains at the property and has stopped paying rent.
In another frustrating situation, a Winnipeg landlord finally was granted an order for possession against tenants who were chronically late and not paying rent. The order was signed on March 23, according to a news report, but the sheriff will not enforce the order during the pandemic. According to the report, the sheriff’s office is not enforcing orders for non-payment because these cases are not considered urgent.
Sadly, that landlord reports that he only discovered afterwards that the tenant had been evicted in the past.
While these cases are, fortunately, more the exception than the rule, this summer is likely to be a busy one for evictions once those tribunals are back in business.
Evictions likely will be slow going because of an anticipated glut. Keep in mind that it might not be too late to work out something with a tenant who is not paying. There is an outside chance that the tenant doesn’t know what to do and reaching out could yield some positive results.
For some tenants, these games are nothing new. They’ve learned that the eviction system works in their favour, and with little effort they can delay or prevent the landlord from recovering the property. Some professional tenants have lived for months — or years — entirely rent free.
Going forward, be picky when choosing tenants. Ask for the tenant’s consent in the rental applicant to speak to previous landlords and find out the individual’s rental history before moving forward. Also, check the tenant’s credit for signs of previous issues or a lack of financial responsibility. That’s going to be particularly important this summer, as problem tenants re-enter the rental market.
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).
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is 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.