FAQ: What can I do If My Tenant Causes Excessive Damage to My Rental Property?

FAQ: What can I do If My Tenant Causes Excessive Damage to My Rental Property?

This is one of the most common questions I get asked by landlords. The collection of a damage deposit by the landlord is not permitted so there is an understandable fear that the landlord will have little recourse if they discover excessive damage to their unit.

As stated by the Landlord Tenant Board (“LTB”),

If the landlord finds that a tenant has damaged the unit or caused damage to the building, the landlord can give the tenant a notice and/or ask them to pay for the damages. If they do not, the landlord can apply to have the Board determine if there are damages and what should be done about them.

Without getting into the details about what constitutes normal wear and tear, and what’s excessive damage, the landlord’s best course of action is to provide the tenant with the N5 form to request the tenant repair the damages at the tenant’s own cost.  The N5 Form can be found here.

According to Christopher Fitch, a barrister and solicitor from Fitch Law:

The Landlord and Tenant Board (“LTB”) can provide a relatively quick and expedient solution for landlords facing such a situation. While most landlords in this situation may simply want to receive money for the damages and do not wish to terminate the tenancy, they should note that issuing the N5 notice will not automatically end the tenancy.  After the tenant has been served with the N5, they then have the opportunity to “void” it within 7 days.  Essentially, if the tenant pays the amount owing, or makes the repairs within 7 days of having received the N5, the notice is voided, and the LTB action is no longer active. Thus issuing the N5 can provide a quick resolution to the dispute.

If the tenant refuses to pay or conduct the repairs, then the matter would proceed to a hearing before the LTB. Landlord and Tenant matters are processed fairly quickly in comparison to civil actions before the courts, and are a practical solution for landlords, with hearings being scheduled even within 3 months of having issued the N5. At the hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to present their evidence and question witnesses. It is important that Landlords keep detailed records and documents surrounding the event, as they will need these materials in order to present their case before the LTB.

The LTB also provides free mediation services, which are available before a hearing. During a mediation, both parties have the opportunity to negotiate a settlement with the assistance of a LTB mediator. If the mediation is successful, the parties can draft and enter into a settlement agreement, which is enforceable by LTB. While Tenants may rely upon the services of duty counsel when at the LTB, landlords cannot, and it is advisable that they consult with a lawyer or paralegal if involved in such a matter.

Christopher Fitch can be reached at 905-267-8576 or cfitch@fitchlaw.ca

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