WHAT ARE “ARREARS OF RENT”?
The legal term for unpaid rent, or for money that your landlord says that you owe in rent, is “arrears of rent”. Your landlord can try to evict you if you do not pay your rent. This can happen even if you are holding back rent because, for example, the landlord has not fixed things in your apartment that you have asked to be fixed.
CAN MY LANDLORD EVICT ME BECAUSE I OWE RENT?
Yes, if your landlord follows the proper legal process. If your landlord wants to evict you legally for arrears of rent, they must give you a chance to have an eviction hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board (the “Board”) and to give your side of the story.
Before the hearing, your landlord must give you these documents:
1. Notice of Termination (N4 notice) The N4 Notice must say exactly how much money you owe. It must also give a date by which you can pay the rent back to avoid an eviction hearing. This is called a “termination date”.
If your landlord is just asking for unpaid rent and doesn’t want to evict you, your landlord does not have to give you a N4 notice.
2. Application For Arrears of Rent and for Eviction (L1 form)
Arrears of Rent – January 2007 1 Your landlord can use this form to apply to the Board to evict you if you have not paid the rent by the termination date in the N4 notice OR if the landlord wants to get unpaid rent but not to evict you. Your landlord can also ask for NSF charges on the application form. It costs your landlord a filing fee of $150 to file this application. The landlord must give you a copy of the L1 form and a Notice of Hearing which will tell you when your arrears/eviction hearing is scheduled.
I HAVE RECEIVED A N4 NOTICE / L1 FORM. DOES THIS MEAN I HAVE TO MOVE
OUT RIGHT AWAY?
No. These forms do not mean that the Sheriff is coming right away. If you make any payments to your landlord or superintendent after you get these forms, make sure to get a receipt from them. If they refuse, tell them that it is illegal to refuse to give you a receipt. You have the right to go to a hearing to tell the Board your story and defend yourself
I HAVE RECEIVED A N4 NOTICE/L1 FORM. CAN I SETTLE MY CASE WITHOUT
ATTENDING AT MY HEARING?
Yes, it is possible to settle your case without attending on the date of your hearing. Prior to your hearing day, you may be able to work out a written repayment agreement (payment plan) with your landlord. This permits you and your landlord to reach an agreement to resolve the case without having to attend a hearing. This payment plan would be filed with the Board as a consent order. This consent order cannot include any term that would evict
you if you did not pay your landlord. If you can settle your case, the landlord’s application could be still be heard by the Board if you did not comply with the payment plan. It is important to obtain legal advice before doing so.
If you cannot settle your case, then the Board will hear and decide your case based on the evidence presented at the hearing.
HOW CAN I DEFEND MYSELF AT THE EVICTION HEARING?
Come to your hearing prepared to discuss one or more of the following things:
1. You did not get the N4 notice, the L1 form and/or the Notice of Hearing in the time
required by law:
N4 notice: if you pay rent once a month, the N4 notice must be served at least
14 calendar days before the termination date on the N4 notice.
L1 form and Notice of Hearing: if you pay rent once a month, the L1 and
Notice of Hearing must be served at least 5 days (including weekend days)
before the hearing date. If your landlord did not give you any of these forms and you can prove it, you can ask the Board member to dismiss the landlord’s case for eviction against you.
2. You paid the rent before or after the L1 was filed.
3. You had an agreement with your landlord to pay the rent in another way, e.g. by doing repairs.
4. The amount claimed by your landlord is wrong or is not lawful (legal).
5. Your landlord has added amounts that are not rent to the arrears, (for example, utility bills if the account is in the landlord’s name but you have agreed to pay the utilities).
6. You would like “relief from eviction” (that is, you can ask that your landlord’s
application to evict you be dismissed) because your landlord is in serious breach of his/her obligations as a landlord including the duty to keep the unit in a good state of repair.
To prove that there is “serious damage or disrepair”, you will be asked to prove that
(a) there is damage or disrepair; and (b) that it is “serious” according to the Board.
Some examples: fridge or stove does not work; structural problems with the
Note: If you can prove to the Board that your landlord is in serious breach of their
maintenance obligations, the Board may also issue an order prohibiting the landlord
from increasing the rent until the work is done to fix the maintenance problem(s).
7. As a tenant, you may raise any of the following matters as a part of your defence to a landlord’s application for rent arrears and eviction:
Serious Interference with their Reasonable Enjoyment of the unit
Serious Interference with vital services
Service/Facility reduced or discontinued
Notice of Termination given in bad faith
Any other matter that could be raised in a tenant’s application.
8. Relief from eviction (that is, a longer time to pay back the money you owe) on “compassionate grounds”. This means that you can ask the Board to delay or refuse your eviction if you have special problems which will make it harder for you to find a new apartment. For example: you are disabled, you are on social assistance, you lost your job, you have small children.
9. You are not a “tenant” under the Residential Tenancies Act because, for example you share a kitchen and/or bathroom with the landlord. If you are not a tenant, your landlord must sue you in Small Claims Court for any rent you owe.
10.You did not live in the rental unit at the time the landlord applied to the Board to evict you.
Bring all of the evidence (e.g. receipts, photos, documents) you need to prove your side in defense. If you have any witnesses who can help you, ask them to come to the hearing. If they can’t come, bring a written and signed statement from them to the hearing. It would be best if this statement is a “sworn” statement prepared by a public notary. All lawyers and many travel agents can prepare a sworn witness statement usually for a fee. Notaries public are also listed in the yellow pages.
See the attached checklist to find out what kind of evidence you should bring.
AT THE HEARING, THE LANDLORD GOT AN EVICTION ORDER AGAINST ME.
WHAT CAN I DO NOW?
Here are some of your options:
Pay What You Owe Before Your Landlord Goes to the Sheriff
Pay all of the arrears before the “termination date” or the date that the landlord is allowed to take the order to the Court Enforcement Office (the Sheriff) to have you evicted. This date will be found on the last page of the order, and will likely be between 7 and 11 days after the date of the order.
¾Think about asking friends or family members if they can loan you money to
pay your arrears. ¾If you are on social assistance (OW, ODSP, FBA), call your worker and ask if you qualify for money to help you pay your arrears. If your worker can give you money for rent, ask him/her for a letter which will explain this to the Board.
If you are able to pay off all the arrears before the termination date, you should be able to get the Board to cancel or “void” the order. Call your local legal aid clinic or ask Tenant Duty Counsel at the Board for help. It is very important to go to the sheriff’s office with a stay to show the rent and other money owing under the eviction order if fully paid.
Otherwise, even if you have paid all the money you owe to your landlord, you can still be locked out of your apartment by the sheriff. If you are unable to pay off all the arrears before the termination date, you can try to work out a payment plan with the landlord. Make sure that any agreement you make
with your landlord about paying your arrears is in writing. There is no guarantee that this will stop the eviction.
Pay What You Owe After Your Landlord Goes to the Sheriff
If you are unable to pay off all the arrears before the termination date but you find you can come up with the money before the Sheriff arrives, the you may be able to save your tenancy. You may have the opportunity to “void” the eviction order by payment into the Board of all arrears of rent (including any Sheriff’s fees incurred by the landlord at the time) at any time up until the Sheriff actually enforces the eviction order (i.e. changes the locks). You can only do this once in your tenancy.
Ask for a Review of Your Eviction Order Get legal advice about “reviewing” the eviction order. This can be done if the decision followed was legally wrong. You must request a review within 30 days of your eviction order. It costs $50 to ask for a review