When a landlord wants to evict someone, usually the first step is to give them a written notice.
If you receive a Notice of Hearing along with an Application to Evict a Tenant, it means your landlord has taken the next step. Your landlord has asked the Landlord and Tenant Board to hold a hearing to decide if you should be evicted.
There are things you might be able to do before the hearing. These include:
- if the application is about rent, pay what your landlord says you owe
- try to settle the case by making an agreement with your landlord
- have a mediator help you and your landlord make an agreement
- find out if you have a good case to dispute the eviction
You might be able to stop the eviction process without having a hearing. If your landlord is trying to evict you because you haven't paid rent, you can stop the process by paying what you owe plus the $170 filing fee your landlord paid to the Board.
You can also try talking with your landlord before the hearing. Depending on the type of issue you're having, there may be people you can ask to help you talk with your landlord. See Step 2 below for more information.
If you go to your eviction hearing, it is usually a good idea to try to talk to your landlord in Board mediation before the hearing starts.
It's always best to get legal advice about eviction problems if you can, especially when you have an eviction order against you.
If you have a low income, you can call your local community legal clinic and try to make an appointment to discuss your situation. Be sure to tell the clinic that you have an eviction order against you.
If you can't get help from a community legal clinic, you can contact the Law Society Lawyer Referral Service for a free half hour consultation with a lawyer or licensed paralegal. Or you can contact JusticeNet, a non-profit organization that can connect you with a lawyer or licensed paralegal who has agreed to work for reduced fees.
If you live in a city where there is a Board regional office, and you can’t find legal help, you may be able to speak to Tenant Duty Counsel. But they are usually busy helping tenants who have eviction hearings that day and they might not have time to talk to you.
You can try to make an agreement with your landlord to stop the eviction if:
- you cannot pay the money you owe,
- you do not agree with the amount, or
- the application is not about owing rent.
This is sometimes called a "settlement" agreement.
Before you sign a settlement agreement, try to get legal advice, and make sure the agreement:
- says exactly what you agreed to, and
- does not include anything you think is not fair or that you will not be able to do.
If you sign an agreement, make sure you get a copy of it.
You do not have to make an agreement with your landlord. But sometimes making an agreement with your landlord is the best thing. For example, if you owe rent but cannot pay it before the hearing, an agreement might include a payment plan that gives you more time.
Be sure to go take a copy of the agreement to the hearing and tell the Board member about it.
If the landlord's application is about rent owing, you can file the agreement with the Board before the hearing starts. You can then ask the Board member at the hearing to make an order that reflects what you and your landlord agreed to.
If your landlord later wants the Board to schedule an eviction hearing because you did not live up to the agreement, they must give you notice.
The Board has employees called mediators who will try to help you and your landlord reach an agreement. A mediator might phone you before your hearing or speak to you on the day of your hearing. In some areas of Ontario, you or your landlord must ask the Board for a mediator if you want one.
Be especially careful about what you agree to in mediation. A mediated agreement is different from an agreement made without a mediator. If you sign a mediated agreement and then do not follow it, your landlord might be able to apply for an eviction order without giving you any notice and without you having a hearing.
Be sure to keep a copy of the mediated agreement. The Board does not keep a copy of this agreement.
You do not have to go to mediation. You and your landlord can try to work out an agreement without a mediator's help. But going to mediation can be helpful because you will usually get more information about your landlord's case against you.
You can bring a lawyer or someone else to help you in mediation, such as a family member, a friend, or a social worker.