What tenants need to know about the law
It is against the law for your landlord to evict you or lock you out without first getting an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board.
If your landlord has locked you out or is threatening to do this, call the police or get legal help right away.
To evict a tenant, a landlord must follow the steps set out in the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).
Usually, the first step in the eviction process is that your landlord gives you a written notice explaining the reason your landlord wants you to leave.
Exception: In some situations, your landlord does not have to give you a notice and the Board can order your eviction without holding a hearing. For more information, see If the Board did not hold a hearing.
There are several different types of notice with slightly different names, but usually the name of the form starts with Notice to End your Tenancy. The form may have one of these numbers: N4, N5, N6, N7, N8, N12, or N13.
Reasons for eviction
Here are examples of reasons that your landlord might put in the notice:
- You owe rent.
- You often pay your rent late.
- You or your guests did something illegal on the property.
- You or your guests caused damage or serious problems for your landlord or other tenants.
- Your landlord wants to tear down the building or use it for something else.
- Your landlord, your landlord's family, someone buying your place, or the buyer's family wants to move in. Family includes only spouse, child, parent, spouse's child, and spouse's parent. It also includes a caregiver for any of them.
Those are just some of the reasons a landlord can use to try to evict you. There are more reasons listed in the RTA. But you cannot be evicted for any reason that is not in the RTA. For example, you cannot be evicted just for having a pet unless it bothers or causes problems for other people in the building — even if your lease says no pets.
Important: If you do not want to leave or if you do not agree with the reasons in the notice, you do not have to move out. But get legal advice right away.
Amount of notice your landlord has to give you
The Notice to End your Tenancy must tell you the date your landlord wants you to move out by. Your landlord must give you the notice a certain number of days before that date. How many days before depends on which reason for eviction your landlord is using. There are some examples in the chart that follows.
|If the reason for eviction is:||Your landlord must give you this much notice:|
|owing rent||14 days (but only 7 days if you pay your rent by the week or by the day)|
|causing damage by being careless, or disturbing the landlord or other tenants||20 days the first time (see above for the exception to this)
14 days if it is the second notice within 6 months
|making or selling an illegal drug||10 days|
|your landlord, your landlord's family member, or a caregiver wants to move in||60 days|
|your landlord wants to tear down the
building or use it for something else
Some types of notice must tell you that you can cancel the notice if you stop or correct whatever your landlord says you are doing wrong. For example, this usually applies if the notice is for owing rent, causing damage, or disturbing your landlord or other tenants.
Exception: Some of the eviction rules are different if your building has 3 units or less and your landlord lives in one of them. For example, the notice period is only 10 days for disturbing your landlord, and you cannot cancel the notice by correcting the problem.
If you do not move out
You might decide to move out after your landlord gives you a notice. If you do not, the next step is for your landlord to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an eviction order. When your landlord applies to the Board, the Board will send you:
- a Notice of Hearing telling you the time and place of the Board hearing, and
- an Application explaining what your landlord is asking the Board for.
Exception: In some situations, the Board does not give you a notice or an application, and can order your eviction without holding a hearing. For more information, see If the Board did not hold a hearing.
There are several different types of applications about eviction, but usually the name of the form starts with Application to evict a tenant or Application to End a Tenancy. The form may have one of these numbers: L1, L2, L3, L4, L7, A1, or A2.
The Board will schedule a hearing to decide if there is enough reason to evict you. A member of the Board is in charge of the hearing. At the hearing, you can bring evidence and explain the reasons why the Board should not evict you.
Note: It is very important to go to your hearing. If you do not go and you do not stop your landlord's application in some other way, the Board can hold the hearing without you. If that happens, the Board member will probably decide to evict you because they will not hear your side of the case.
You have the right to have a lawyer or someone else represent you at the hearing and at any step along the way. See Where to get more information and help.
There can be a lot of things to do to prepare for a hearing. So, look for legal help and start getting ready for your hearing as soon as you can. You should make notes about what has happened, and think about what evidence you will need to bring to the hearing. See the Note in section What the hearing is about for more information.
Note: Sometimes you can stop your landlord's eviction application before the hearing, for example:
- by making a written agreement with your landlord, or
- by paying everything you owe plus any fees your landlord paid to the Board, if the application is based on you owing rent.
But you could still be evicted if you do not follow exactly the right steps. So make sure to get more information and legal advice before trying to do this.
The Tenant Duty Counsel Program has tip sheets for tenants who are being evicted for different reasons, including owing rent. To find these tip sheets online, go to www.acto.ca and click on For Tenants, then on Tip Sheets. There is information about the Tenant Duty Counsel Program in Where to get more information and help.
What the hearing is about
It is up to your landlord to prove to the Board that there is a legal reason to evict you. You have the right to question or challenge any witnesses or evidence your landlord presents at the hearing.
And you have the right to speak and present your own evidence and witnesses. The Board must always take into account your circumstances and whether your landlord has been following the law and the tenancy agreement.
Even if the Board agrees that there is a legal reason to evict you, the Board does not have to evict you.
In some cases, the Board must let you stay. This applies if the Board member agrees that your landlord:
- has seriously failed to follow the law or the tenancy agreement, or
- is trying to evict you because you did something to protect your legal rights or because you have children.
So, at your hearing, make sure to tell the Board member everything that you want the member to consider when deciding whether to evict you. You might want to write down what you want to say before the hearing so you can remember everything.
Note: It is very important to bring evidence to your hearing, for example, witnesses, photos, audio or video recordings, inspectors' reports, work orders, letters, or anything else that can help you prove your case to the Board member. Bring 3 copies of any documents or photos.
If your landlord's application is about you owing rent and if the Board decides that your landlord has not been following the law or the tenancy agreement, the Board can also make orders to deal with those problems. For example, if the Board decides that there are repair problems, the Board could order your landlord to fix the problems or cancel some of the rent that you owe.
But the Board might not deal with these problems unless you told the landlord ahead of time that you were going to bring them up at the hearing.
And, even if the Board agrees that your landlord has not followed the law or the tenancy agreement, the Board will almost never cancel all the rent you owe. So, if you do owe rent, you should still try to suggest a payment plan that you think you will be able to follow.
If there is an eviction order against you
If the Board has made an eviction order against you and you do not want to leave, you must do something about it right away. What you must do depends on whether or not the Board held a hearing.
If the Board held a hearing
The Board may have made the order because the Board member at the hearing agreed with your landlord or because you missed the hearing. If either of these things happened, you might be able to stop the eviction by asking the Board to review the decision or by filing an appeal in court. For this situation, the Tenant Duty Counsel Program has a tip sheet called I think my order from the Landlord and Tenant Board is wrong. What should I do?
If the eviction is based on you owing rent, you also might be able to stop it by paying everything you owe plus your landlord's legal expenses. For this situation, the Tenant Duty Counsel Program has a tip sheet called I got an eviction order because I owe rent. If I pay, can I stop the Sheriff from coming?
To find these tip sheets online, go to www.acto.ca and click on For Tenants, then on Tip Sheets.
Important: In any of these situations, you must follow exactly the right steps within very short time limits. So it is best to get more detailed information or legal help right away. See Where to get more information and help.
If the Board did not hold a hearing
In some situations, the Board can make an eviction order without holding a hearing. This is called an "ex parte" order. Your landlord is allowed to apply for an ex parte order if your landlord claims that:
- you and your landlord made an agreement to end your tenancy,
- you gave your landlord a notice to end your tenancy, or
- a previous eviction case ended with a Board order or an agreement between you and your landlord, and you have failed to follow the order or agreement.
If your landlord does this, you might find out about it or the first time when you get an eviction order from the Board or even a Sheriff's Notice. You must act very quickly to stop the eviction.
You will have to file a Form S2 – Motion to Set Aside an Ex Parte Order. You have to do this within 10 days after the date of the order. The Board might give you more time if you miss this deadline but there is no guarantee.
You can get forms for filing this motion from the Board, and you may be able to get help from your community legal clinic. The Tenant Duty Counsel Program has a tip sheet called I am being evicted because I did not do what I agreed to do. What should I do now? To find the tip sheet online, go to www.acto.ca and click on For Tenants, then on Tip Sheets. See Where to get more information and help for information about the Tenant Duty Counsel Program, community legal clinics, and the Board.
Enforcing the eviction order
If the eviction order is not stopped, the Sheriff is the official who is in charge of enforcing or carrying out the eviction order. If you have not moved out by the date in the eviction order, the Sheriff can make you leave and can let your landlord change the locks.
Usually you will get a written notice telling you when the Sheriff is coming.
Only the Sheriff can physically evict you from your place. The law does not let your landlord, a private bailiff, or a security guard physically evict you.