As stricter rent control and tenant rights laws are about to be enacted in Ontario, scumlords in Toronto are engaging in attempts at mass evictions before it becomes harder and more expensive to do so. So many people I know are currently facing harassment and illegal eviction attempts by greedy scumlords who want to jack up rents. But is very possible to fight back and win if you know your rights.
Below, I’ve listed some basic general knowledge that can help ease one’s mind when dealing with an aggressive/harassing/illegal evicting landlord. For specific advice about your particular situation, the Federation of Metro Tenants free hotline is amazing: https://www.torontotenants.org/. There are also MANY free legal clinics in Ontario that do tenant law and can help, but they are based on the neighborhood you live in so just search for the one that serves your area.
BASIC FACTS ABOUT RENTING IN ONTARIO
What many tenants don’t know is that tenant protections are fairly strong in Ontario, and it is actually quite difficult for landlords to evict. There are very few legal means to do so.
Landlords can evict if they themselves or a close family member will be moving in (though often landlords lie and use this rationale with no intent to live there just because it is basically the only way to evict without showing cause). This method is commonly abused in Ontario as well as parts of the US with high eviction rates (like San Francisco). However, stricter laws are being enacted right now that will place a greater burden on landlords to prove that they do intend to live there and provide compensation to tenants who are evicted via this method.
What to do if you are served with an owner move in eviction notice:
First off, the landlord must serve you with form N12 *AND* file it with the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). If the landlord just gives you the notice but doesn’t file, you don’t have to do anything. If they do file, you will get a notice with a hearing date, which you can attend and challenge the eviction attempt. If there are any errors (name misspellings, etc) on the form, the LTB will toss it and the landlord will have to refile with another 60 days notice. Also, keep track of ALL communications (record phone calls, force them to communicated with you via text, email, or written letter so you have documentation, etc) as landlords often give away illegal reasons for pursuing an eviction.
In addition, every time you communicate with your landlord, it is best to do so in writing and keep a record. This way you have documentation of asking for repairs etc, and any proof that you can gather that the landlord is harassing you, failing to meet their obligations, or that they have other motivations for wanting you out of the unit can be used against them to prove that they have filed a false owner move in eviction and that this eviction attempt is part of an ongoing pattern of harassment.
The key thing to remember is that just because the landlord gives you a copy of an N12 form doesn’t mean you have to move. You never, ever have to move until AFTER a hearing with the LTB in which you are then ordered evicted. There is nothing the landlord can do before then to get you out. Sheriffs will not come to evict you without an order from the LTB, and changing locks and harassing you are both illegal. Definitely call the LTB to see if the form has been filed and find out about your hearing date. But if the landlord has not filed it, don’t advise them of this! If they don’t file it in time, the 60 days notice gets pushed back another month.
In the end, however, even if you lose, you can request more time at the hearing. So don’t let the landlord rush or pressure you to leave now. There are a lot of steps still before you are actually legally evicted, if it ever happens.
OTHER REASONS FOR EVICTION:
Basically the only other way for landlords to evict you is to prove you are breaking the Residential Tenancies Act in some way, such as damage to the property, excessive noise, etc. But often times you will be given a chance to remedy the situation before actually being evicted, so again don’t panic and be sure to go the hearing if you are facing one.
Landlords often threaten eviction for things that are completely within your rights, however. For example, you cannot be evicted for moving in a partner (or anyone), having roommates move out and new ones move in, or having pets (unless the pet is causing undue hardships for others in the building, i.e. allergies or excessive noise). In fact, you can move anyone in at any time as long as it is not a safety hazard, and the landlord has no say, nor do you have to notify them.
WHAT TO DO IF LANDLORDS ARE HARASSING YOU:
I hear so many stories about harassment by landlords: entering the unit without notice, attempting to micromange how you live (telling you what you can and can’t do in your apartment – they have NO say in this unless you also live in the SAME UNIT as them), changing locks, not providing sufficient heat or turning off other vital services, etc. You do not have to live with this. First, document EVERYTHING. Second, fill out form T2 at the LTB. You can ask for all sorts of remedies, including a reduction in rent because the landlord’s behavior has interfered with your “reasonable enjoyment” of your unit, and under remedy 11 you can even request to have the landlord stop talking to you all together.
One of the best reasons to pursue this option is that your landlord’s harassment is now well documented with the Landlord Tenant Board, which means any attempts to evict you will be given greater scrutiny, including owner move in evictions, making it much harder for the scumlord to actually evict you.
Harassment and illegal eviction attempts are extremely stressful and debilitating. Often landlords succeed, and know they will succeed, because tenants don’t want to deal with living like this. But knowing your rights and that there are things you can do to stop and turn the tables on the scumlord can also be very empowering! Housing should be a right and none of us should be facing losing our housing because of greed and profit motives of others. But until we succeed guaranteeing adequate housing for all, let’s stand together and take down these scumlords one at a time.