An eviction notice taped to a door.

September 20th, 2018

How does the eviction process work in Ontario?

In Ontario, it’s against the law for a landlord to evict a tenant without a valid reason and an order from the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB). When you feel that you have a valid reason to evict a not-so-good tenant, it’s important to know your rights, and how to navigate the eviction process.

Valid reasons to evict a tenant

Tenants can only be evicted if a landlord has a valid reason, as per the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). Common examples include:

  • Non-payment
  • Persistent late payment
  • Disturbing other tenants or the landlord
  • Causing damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Doing something illegal on the property or in the unit
  • Seriously risking the safety of other people in the building

However, there are some situations where a tenant has done nothing wrong, but can still be evicted. These situations include:

  • If the landlord wants to live in the unit
  • If the landlord has decided to use the unit for a different (non-rental) purpose
  • If the landlord needs to do renovations or necessary repairs for which the tenant cannot be present

How much notice must a landlord give a tenant?

In the same way that a tenant must give the landlord notice before moving out, the amount of time a landlord must give to a tenant before evicting them depends on the reason they are being asked to move out of the property.

The landlord must give a notice of termination to the tenant a certain number of days before the date they want the tenant gone. Below is a table outlining a few reasons, and the amount of time required by law:

Tenant owes rent

14 days

Tenant often pays rent late

60 days

Tenant broke the law or ran an illegal business, caused damage by being careless, or disturbed other tenants

20 days; 14 if it’s the second notice within six months

The tenant risked the safety of others in the building, or were making or selling an illegal drug

10 days

You or your landlord family member or a caregiver wants to move into the unit and live there for at least one year

60 days

You want to tear down the building or use it for a different purpose

120 days

How long does it take to evict someone?

If you’re headed into the eviction process, chances are you want to get your tenant out as quickly as possible. Be aware there are a number of things that could cause bumps along the way, especially if the tenant is not happy with your decision and wants to fight the case.

According to the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO), the average eviction process takes around 75 days. However, in Ontario there is an average of 28 days worth of delay due to landlord error or deliberate actions from the tenant.

What is the process to evict a tenant?

If you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate position where you need to evict your tenant there are a number of guidelines you must abide by in order to make the process legal.

You should avoid any of the following actions, as they are against the law:

  • Do not take your tenants belongings out of the unit
  • Do not withhold any of the tenant’s property
  • Do not change the locks to the apartment unless you have provided the tenant with a new key
  • Do not cut off electricity, heat or water, even if they have not paid their bill

Along with these don’ts, there is also a strict protocol that you must abide by. First and foremost, if you want to evict your tenant legally, you must file a claim with the Landlord Tenant Board. The board will decide whether you have a valid case or not.

  • Firstly, you must serve your tenant with a notice to end tenancy.
  • You should include details about why. For example, if it was for non-payment of rent, you should detail the amount of rent the tenant owes.
  • The tenant should have 14 days to rectify the situation if they owe money.
  • After this you can file an application to evict a tenant but it will cost an initial $170

While going through the process of evicting your tenant, you want to make sure to not do any of the following as they are against the law:

  • Do not take the tenant’s belongings out of the apartment
  • Don’t  change the locks to the apartment or wider building without giving the tenant the matching key immediately
  • Do not cut off electricity, gas, water, or heat, even if the tenant bill has not been paid.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you’re left with the only real way to get a tenant out and as quickly as possible. That is to file a claim with the LTB. Below are the six key steps you must follow:

1. Deliver a written notice to the tenant: This notice of termination must state the reason for the eviction, and when legal action with the Landlord and Tenant Board is set to begin. The type of notice form and the number of days the landlord must wait before proceeding down the legal avenue depends on the reasons for eviction.

2. File an application with the board: Once the required notice period has passed, the landlord will be eligible to file a claim with the Landlord and Tenant Board. This claim is part of a form called the Application to Terminate a Tenancy and Evict a Tenant, and it must be filed along with an application fee. Usually a hearing date is also set out at this point.

3. Delivering the application and notice of hearing to the tenant: The landlord must deliver a copy of the legal application and the notice of hearing to the tenant at least 10 days before the hearing. This is sometimes shortened to five days, depending on the severity of the reason for filing an application.

4. File a certificate of service with the Landlord Board: The Landlord Board will require proof that you, the landlord, delivered letters to your tenant before of the hearing. This means filling out a Certificate of Service form and filing it with the Board Office. This certificate must be filed no later than five days after you have transferred the necessary documents to the tenant.

5. Attend the hearing: On the day of the hearing both the landlord and the tenant, or their representatives, will be expected to attend the hearing. If the landlord does not make an appearance, the case will be dismissed, and if the tenant is absent, a decision will be made without them.

6. Eviction order is served: If the Board agrees with the case for the eviction, an Eviction Order will be issued, outlining when the tenant must vacate the premises. If they do not leave by the date specified, the landlord will need to file an order with the Court Enforcement Office, and a sheriff will take on the role of evicting a tenant. A landlord has no right to evict a tenant or change the unit’s locks until a sheriff is present. This will usually carry its own cost.

How much does it cost to evict a tenant?

The process to evict a tenant can be long, and it can be costly too - especially if your tenant disputes or makes the eviction a difficult one. Not only will you lose rent for the duration of the eviction case, there are also additional costs; the eviction application fee will set you back $170, plus legal fees of roughly $500. And, in the worst case scenario, if a sheriff has to be called, their fees could add up to around $400-450.

Can an eviction be avoided?

If a tenant truly does not want to move, despite an order being served by the landlord, there are a few routes that can be taken. An eviction can be avoided if a settlement can be worked out, which both the landlord and tenant agree upon. In some circumstances, the Landlord and Tenant Board side with the tenant at the hearing, particularly if the landlord does not have enough valid evidence to justify an eviction.