An Ontario Divisional Court Justice has added his name to the list of judges who have called for reforms in the eviction process to stop professional tenants from scamming landlords.
Asked to hear an appeal by a tenant who made only one rent payment despite months in the rental property, the Justice notes that the tenant appealed an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board just hours before it was to take effect with the apparent intent to delay the process. It took the landlord four months from the time the tenant moved in and stopped paying rent to obtain the LTB order. The appeal was heard three months after that.
The landlord was forced to incur additional costs responding to the appeal, arguing that the tenant’s claim — that the judgment for unpaid rent should be thrown out because of a technical math error — was frivolous and without legal merit. At that time, the tenant owed more than $11,000.
In a written decision, the Divisional Court Justice notes that, less than a year earlier, the same tenant had been subject to another eviction order, which the tenant appealed. The judge that heard that earlier eviction appeal accused the tenant of “gaming the system” by strategically delaying the court process while not paying rent.
When the tenant attempted to abandon the latest appeal by filing a motion via email hours prior to the scheduled hearing, the Justice refused, and directed the tenant to appear in court. The Justice then found that the appeal was without merit, and awarded the landlord fees and costs as a means to deter the tenant from “continuing to game the system.”
Referring to an eviction appeal initiated in 2012, this Justice quotes a Superior Court judge who called for amendments to the Rules of Court to restrict the rights of tenants to file frivolous appeals. That judge called out what he described as a growing practice by unscrupulous tenants to manipulate the law, and says this practices “imposes an unfair hardship on landlords and reflects badly on the civil justice system in Ontario.”
In an effort to protect the privacy of tenants, eviction cases heard by Landlord and Tenant boards in Canada typically do not identify tenants by name. It is only through appeal court records that landlords can discover if the same tenant has been evicted multiple times for failing to pay rent.
While this practice places landlords at a disadvantage when it comes to habitually bad tenants, there are tenant screening techniques that can help flag a problem tenant. Specifically, and landlord can:
Check ID and verify information on the rental application to see if the tenant is telling the truth;
Run a credit report to check for outstanding judgments that may have been issued in previous cases;
Pay special attention to rental history and note any unexplained gaps. The tenant may have been evicted during that period;
Speak with previous landlords to determine the applicant’s rental history; and,
Report Tenant Pay Habits and continue to build a database of both good and high-risk tenants. That information can then be placed on tenant credit reports and viewed by future landlords.
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.