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What happens to my stuff if I'm evicted?

In most situations, it is against the law for your landlord to take your things.

But if you leave things behind when you move, your landlord can sell them, keep them, or throw them away. This is true when you move out because of an eviction notice from your landlord or an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board.

The rules are different if you move because you have been evicted by the Sheriff.

If you move after getting an eviction notice

You might decide to move out after your landlord gives you an eviction notice. Or you might move at any time during the eviction process, for example, after getting an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board. If you move out, your landlord can keep, sell, or throw out anything you leave behind.

Your landlord can do this the day after you move out, or the day after the termination date in the notice, whichever is later.

So do not leave anything behind, even for an extra day.

If you are evicted by the Sheriff

If your landlord got an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board, your landlord can get a court official called the Sheriff to physically evict you from your place.

If you are evicted by the Sheriff, you have 72 hours (3 full days) to take your belongings. During those 72 hours, your landlord must keep your things in or near your place and must let you get them any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

If you think you will need extra time to move all your things out, try to get your landlord to agree to some other arrangement, and get that agreement in writing.

There are different rules if you leave behind a mobile home.

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1. Know the deadline for moving your things

If you are evicted by the Sheriff, you have 72 hours after the eviction to get all your things from your landlord. This rule is the same even over a weekend or a holiday.

During this time, your landlord must let you pick up your things any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Although 72 hours is equal to 3 days, the law does not say you have 3 days. This can make a difference. For example, if the Sheriff evicts you at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday, your deadline to move your things is 1 p.m. on Friday, not 8 p.m.

If you will not be able to get everything by the deadline, ask your landlord if they will give you more time. Try to put your request, and any agreement, in writing.

Or, if you think the Sheriff will be coming soon and you're still in the process of moving out, make sure that the things you need most are not left at your place. You could ask a friend to hold onto them for you or maybe leave them at your workplace if you're working.

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2. Tell your landlord your plans

Telling your landlord your plans can sometimes help you to avoid other problems.

Moving early

You should tell your landlord if you plan to move some of your things early. For example, you might want to move big items like furniture one day then come back another day for your other things. You have the right to do this as long as everything is out by the last day of your tenancy, or within 72 hours after you are evicted by the Sheriff.

If you do move some things early, make sure your landlord knows you are coming back for the other things. It is best to put this in writing.

Moving late

You should tell your landlord if you will not be able to move all your things out on time. Your landlord might agree to give you more time. Or they might agree to other arrangements, such as storing your things for you somewhere in the building or nearby.

It is best to put your request, and any agreement you make with your landlord, in writing. If any of your belongings are especially valuable or more important to you than they might appear to someone else, tell the landlord this in writing too.

Although you don't have a legal right to extra time, some court decisions say your landlord must still act reasonably. So it might help if you can prove that your landlord knew you did not mean to abandon your belongings.

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3. Get your landlord to follow the law

If your landlord takes or keeps your belongings without following the law, or does not let you come get your things, you can call the Ontario government's Rental Housing Enforcement Unit (RHEU) at 1-888-772-9277 (toll-free) or 416-585-7214.

If the RHEU think that your landlord might not be following the law, they can contact your landlord to discuss it. Sometimes this can solve the problem. In serious cases, the RHEU may decide to lay charges against your landlord.

You can also call the police non-emergency number. But usually police officers will not get involved in this kind of situation.

Sometimes getting a lawyer or legal aid clinic to contact your landlord can also solve the problem.

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4. Take legal steps

If your landlord still doesn't give you your belongings, you might have to take legal steps.

If you were evicted by the Sheriff and your landlord did not follow the 72 hour rules, the fastest and easiest way to do this is to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to make your landlord return your things or pay you for taking them.

You can't apply to the Board if:

  • more than a year has passed,
  • you want to claim more than $25,000, or
  • you were not evicted by the Sheriff.

In those situations, you might have to sue your landlord in court instead.

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December, 2015

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