Learning about Tenant-Landlord rights

Protecting the rights of less empowered people of our society seems justificable, but is it real justice always served?

The Education of Éva in the Responsibilities of a Landlord.

Yes, I am the Landlord of a beautifully appointed large residence in North York, that used to be my family bastion. As such, I am continuing the legacy of maintaining it in its pristine condition as left to me, and by answering every beck and call from the tenants. I have had the pleasure of renting to 5 outstanding tenants in the last 12 years.

Then I rented the house to my 6th tenant, a family of four; mom, dad and two young girls. They were new arrivals to Canada last July. They appeared solid renters as the father came to a well-paying job at GM. Mother was a homemaker although, she too has her engineering degree and the children were cute with huge brown eyes. Great credentials, a solid family. Who would refuse to rent to such stellar tenants? Their lease will be up on August 31st, and that day cannot come a day too soon.

Throughout their stay, there were minor complaints such as requesting new CD/Fire Alarms, new side entrance lights and new filters in the furnace every three months, all of which were met in a timely fashion.

However, in the first week of July, misfortune struck! The tenant who never owned a pick-up truck, let alone drive one, bought himself a large, family truck. On the very first day as he was backing into the driveway, he forgot to disengage the gas peddle and slammed into the double garage door. The door itself was beyond repair and the rollers and the tracks were also bent beyond recognition. From the outside, the door had a large dent and the garage opener could not pull the door up. The door was done!

The tenant, true to human decency, e-mailed me with the details, took responsibility for it and offered to pay for part of the door. He was arguing the finer points of etiquette with me as to why he should not be fully responsible for a 40-year-old door which was on its last legs anyways. There was nothing wrong with the door!

I asked him to get me 2 estimates and I will do the same. Within two days he called me with 2 verbal estimates that seemed very low compared to my written estimates. He told me that if I signed with one of the companies to do the job, then and only then will they send me a written estimate. This didn’t seem right to me, so I immediately looked up the 2 companies. I found that one of the companies wasn’t even listed on the Internet, and the other company, when I called it, the number was disconnected. However, according to the tenant, one had 94% and the other had 96% approval ratings. Nothing added up in this situation, but I still gave the tenant the benefit of the doubt. I asked for clarification, there was none. I sent him e-mails, there was no reply. I called him, no one answered and no one returned my call. I sent him 2 of my estimates for his perusal, but there was no response. All communications stopped. I knew as a Landlord that I had to resolve the damages within 7 days of their occurrence. I had to act.

I went to the Landlord/Tenant Board for advice. And that’s when my practical education started. I found out that the Board rules are almost always in favour of the tenants. I studied and acquainted myself with every N-form (Notice forms) and every subsequent L-form (Legal forms) and the order in which one submits each to the courts. Thus, I filled out myriads of forms, retained legal counsel, and tried to serve the tenant with the Notice for Damages.

While I was doing all this paperwork, the tenant homed in on his tenant rights, and promptly moved out, or should I say, snuck out of the house 2-3 weeks before the end-date of the 31st. He never notified me of his intentions. There was no communication what-so-ever. It was a neighbour who notified me that the family has vacated the premises. Totally gone! With no forwarding address, I could no longer serve them with any of the Notices or Legal papers. I found out from the Board, that once the tenant moved out of the rental property, he is no longer my tenant even if he has not submitted the keys. However, he can still enter the house at his whim, but, I, as the Landlord, need to give him 24-hour notice! I could no longer take him to the Landlord/Tenant Tribunal. My only option now must be Small Claims Court.

This will be a whole new, different and intimidating ball game. I am grateful, though, for small mercies as he left the house clean and no damages or graffiti on the walls or on the wood floors.

Moving forward, I will hire a PI to locate him with an address so he can be served to appear in Small Claims Court.

 

I find it very hard to accept the situation created by this tenant. From the very beginning it seems that the tenant never had the intention of taking responsibility for the garage door. He said all the right things; he did all the right things all the while intending to get out from under this cloud that he created.

This was a valuable lesson for me, and a good education in trusting and questioning people when the need arises. I will send him and his wife a message to emphasize that in Canada, honesty, integrity and respect are very much alive and practiced by its citizens. Their two young daughters need them as positive role models to grow up to be good citizens.

The next step, Small Claims Court. I will be interested to see how the system will work. Stay tuned.

Éva

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