What reasons do landlords need to evict someone?

Question: 
What reasons do landlords need to evict someone?
Answer: 

Tenants can be evicted only for the reasons listed in Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). Here are some examples:

Non-payment

By far, the most common cause of eviction is tenants being behind in their rent payments. This is sometimes called non-payment of rent or "arrears" of rent. This can mean being even one day late or one dollar short.

Persistent late payment

Fortunately, a tenant who gets a notice for non-payment can cancel it by paying the full amount of rent owing before the date set out in the notice. But there is a limit to how often a tenant can do that.

Unfortunately, the law doesn't say exactly what the limit is, just that a tenant can be evicted if they "persistently" fail to pay the full amount by the due date. It's up to the Landlord and Tenant Board to decide what that means on a case-by-case basis.

Some other reasons for eviction

The RTA lists many other reasons for eviction, including:

  • disturbing other tenants or the landlord, for example, with very loud parties late at night
  • causing "undue" damage, which is more than normal wear and tear
  • doing something illegal on the property or in the unit, for example, dealing drugs
  • seriously risking the safety of other people in the building, for example, severe hoarding or clutter that creates a fire hazard

Even tenants who have done nothing wrong can sometimes be evicted simply because of the landlord's plans for the rental unit. For example, the landlord may want to:

  • live in the unit
  • use it for a different purpose
  • do major repairs or renovations

How much notice does the landlord have to give the tenant?

The landlord must give a notice of termination to the tenant a certain number of days before the date they want the tenant to move. This chart in CLEO's Fighting an Eviction shows the number days required for some of the different reasons for eviction.

What if the landlord does have a good reason and has given the right notice?

Even if the landlord has done everything right, a tenant who does not want to move should keep these things in mind:

  • Sometimes eviction can be avoided by working out a settlement, which is a compromise that both the landlord and tenant can agree to. A common example is an agreement for the tenant to pay off the rent owing in installments.
  • The landlord has to be able to prove the reason that they gave is true. In some cases, the landlord's story might not hold up to the close attention and questioning that can happen at a Landlord and Tenant Board hearing.
  • Even if the landlord proves their case, the Board still has the power to delay or refuse an eviction.

If a tenant decides not to fight the eviction, they may still want extra time to find a new place. And if the eviction is for a "no-fault" reason like renovations or the landlord moving in, the tenant might have rights they should find out about. These could include getting money from the landlord because they had to move or having the option of moving back in later.

Every situation is different, so tenants should try to get legal help and advice, whether they are thinking of moving out or fighting to stay.

Getting legal help

Community legal clinics

For legal help or advice, tenants can contact their local community legal clinic. There is information about how to find the nearest community legal clinic on the Legal Aid Ontario website or in the Find Services section of Your Legal Rights.

Please note: This answer is taken from CLEO's On the Radar - January 2013

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