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What happens if there's an eviction order against me and I don’t move?

After the Landlord and Tenant Board makes an order to evict a tenant, a court official called the Sheriff is in charge of enforcing or carrying out the order.

If you have not moved out by the date the eviction order says you must move, the Sheriff can make you leave and let your landlord change the locks.

Only the Sheriff is allowed to physically evict you

The law does not let your landlord, a private bailiff, or a security guard physically evict you or lock you out. Only the Sheriff can do this. The police can't evict you either but the Sheriff can ask the police for help if the Sheriff thinks there might be violence.

You can get evicted at any time of year

Many tenants believe that the law does not allow evictions in the winter. That is not true. The Sheriff can enforce eviction orders at any time of year.

The Sheriff does not have to tell you when they are coming to evict you

If you have an eviction order against you, the Sheriff could come to change your locks on any weekday after the date the Board ordered you to move out.

It's important to act quickly. Get legal advice as soon as possible if you want to try to stop the eviction. If you've decided to move, make sure you're ready to go as soon as possible.

Sometimes the Sheriff will mail you a "Sheriff’s Notice to Vacate" that tells you the date that they will come to your place and change the locks. But the Sheriff does not have to send you a notice. In many parts of Ontario, they never tell you when they are coming.

You can try to phone your local Sheriff’s office to find out when they are coming but they do not have to tell you. The phone number may be listed as "Enforcement – Superior Court of Justice" for the courthouse in your location. If there is no such listing, try the courthouses for nearby larger municipalities.

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Next Steps: 

​1. If you want to try to stop the eviction, get legal advice immediately

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.

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2. Start preparing to move

If you can't stop the eviction order, or you decide not to try, you should plan to move out by the date in the order. The Sheriff can enforce the eviction order at any time after that date and your locks can be changed very quickly.

If you need help finding a new place, you can try calling your local housing help centre.

If you don't have another place to move yet, make arrangements to store your stuff as soon as possible. You might get information about reasonably-priced storage places by calling a helpline. Or, if you're on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program benefits, ask your worker.

If the Sheriff locks you out, you only have 72 hours after the lockout to make arrangements to get your stuff. Even if the eviction happens just before the weekend, you still have only 72 hours. So it's best to move your stuff out before this happens.

You could also ask your family, friends, or a community agency for help. If you belong to a religious group, try talking to your faith leader to see if your religious community can help you.

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3. Ask Canada Post to forward your mail

After you are legally evicted, you lose the right to enter your old place to get your mail. This can cause problems for you if you don't receive important papers or notices.

To arrange to have your mail sent to a new address, go to any post office or to the Canada Post website. Canada Post charges a fee for this service. If you do not have a new place yet, ask a friend or family member if you can use their address.

4. Pack all your important documents, medications, and other essential items

If the Sheriff comes to change the locks when you are not home, you might have a hard time getting back in to get important things like medication that you rely on.

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 the rental unit. 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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5. Make other short-term living arrangements for your children or pets.

If the Sheriff comes to change the locks and you're not home, the Sheriff will call the Humane Society to pick up any pets that they find in the unit.

And if there are any children under the age of 18 at home at the time, the Sheriff will probably call the Children's Aid Society to come and get the children.

If you think the Sheriff will be coming soon and you're still in the process of moving out, arrange for your children or pets to stay with a friend or family member until you're able to find a new place. This might help avoid future legal problems with the Children's Aid Society or problems getting your pets back.

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Reviewed: 
December, 2015

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