The impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians have caused many to lose their jobs and fall behind on mortgage payments or rent. Although rental housing falls under provincial jurisdiction, the Canadian Government has encouraged landlords to consider rent deferrals and consider eviction moratoriums under tenancy agreements until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

What is a tenancy agreement?

According to ICC Property Management, when a landlord rents out a unit, they enter into a tenancy agreement, a written contract in which the tenant agrees to pay rent for the right to live in the rental unit. 

The tenant can continue to occupy the rental unit until:

  • The tenant decides to leave and gives the landlord proper notice that they intend to move out, or
  • The landlord and tenant come to agreement to end the tenancy, or 
  • The landlord gives the tenant a notice to end the tenancy for a reason allowed by the Residential Tenancies Act, and the tenant agrees to move or is evicted.

When can the landlord give the tenant notice to end the tenancy?

The Residential Tenancies Act allows a landlord, or a property management firm like ICC to give a tenant notice to end the tenancy early if the tenant fails to live up to the landlord’s expectations. 

Examples of reasons for ending a tenancy include: 

  • The tenant willfully or negligently caused undue damage to the rental unit or complex.
  • The tenant or other occupant committed an illegal act or maintained an unlawful business in the rental unit or complex.
  • The tenant, their guest, or other occupants severely impaired another person’s safety in the rental complex.
  • The tenant has not paid their rent.

Rent payments

Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing has encouraged landlords and tenants to work together during COVID-19 to make fair arrangements to keep tenants in their homes.

Tenants who can pay rent must do so to the best of their abilities

Tenants who are asked to self-isolate or cannot work due to COVID-19 may have difficulty paying their rent. The Residential Tenancies Act does not allow landlords to charge fees or penalties for late rent payments.

The Residential Tenancies Act sets out how a landlord can end a residential tenancy and evict a tenant. 

Step 1. The landlord must give the tenant official notice in writing that they want the tenant to move out.

Step 2. If the tenant doesn’t resolve the situation or move out, the landlord can apply to the Board to end the tenancy. The Landlord and Tenant Board’s counter services have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but applications can still be filed online.

Step 3. The Board schedules a hearing to decide the landlord’s application. The Ontario government suspended most in-person landlord and tenant hearings in March after issuing an emergency order to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Step 4.  A Board member will issue a written order deciding whether or not the tenant should be evicted and mail a copy of the order to both the landlord and tenant.

Step 5. Usually, if a tenant does not leave the rental unit by the termination date mentioned in the eviction order, the landlord must file a copy of the Board order with the Sheriff’s Office to have the order enforced. However, the impact of COVID-19 forced the Board to enact a temporary eviction moratorium.

Can the landlord change the locks?

It is illegal for a landlord to change the locks to a rental unit without giving the tenant a key, unless: 

  • The locks are changed because the tenant has been evicted by the Sheriff, or 
  • The tenant has abandoned the unit. 

Landlords have numerous responsibilities for their units, including the management of administrative, financial and maintenance duties. However, they must also be ready to show their units to prospective tenants at any time. 

If you need help managing these and other tasks, consider enlisting the services of a reputable property management firm like ICC. Let our reliable staff give you peace of mind by managing some or all of these responsibilities for you.

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