Cost of Evicting a Tenant: the Ultimate Guide for Canadian Landlords

cost of evictions in Canada
cost of evictions in Canada

Delinquent tenants are arguably the biggest risk a landlord faces when they decide to invest in rental property. While landlords try their best to screen for good tenants to keep their rental income secure, sometimes the unexpected can still happen. Landlords still have to deal with evictions when they end up with delinquent tenants who may not pay their rent or may even damage the property.

So how do landlords evict tenants in Canada? What does the eviction process look like and how much does it actually cost to remove a delinquent tenant?

When calculating the cost of evicting a tenant, Canadian landlords need to keep three things in mind:

A. Loss of Rental Income During Evictions

The only recourse that landlords have to deal with non-payment of rent and tenants who refuse to leave the unit is to go through the provincial tribunal or court to file for tenant eviction.

The problem is that the process of eviction in most provinces suffers mainly from long delays due to a high backlog of hearings. So it takes a long time  to carry out eviction procedures from start to finish.

The duration of the eviction process in Canada depends on three things:

Statutory Delays

Statutory delays are periods of time that a landlord must wait before they can apply to their provincial tribunal or court to remove a tenant. This set number of days differs in each province.

The purpose of these additional wait times is to give tenants the opportunity to pay any outstanding rent owed to a landlord. If the set number of days passes, the landlord can then apply for an eviction order on the grounds of non-payment of rent.

How long does it take to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent in each province?

In British Columbia, a landlord must issue a 10-day notice to end tenancy for unpaid rent when a landlord fails to pay rent by the agreed upon date. Within the 10 days, if the tenant fails to pay the outstanding balance of rent, a landlord must wait the respective 10 days before they can apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to claim the lost rental income.

When a landlord wishes to remove a tenant in Alberta, the landlord is to serve the tenant with a 14- day notice to vacate the unit.

In Saskatchewan when a tenant is 15 days late to paying rent, the landlord has the right to immediately end the tenancy by serving the tenant with an eviction notice.

In Manitoba a landlord is entitled to evict a tenant 5 days after the rent is due. On the 5th day, the landlord can ask the tenant to vacate the unit and has full discretion in determining how soon the tenant should vacate the unit.

The average amount of time given to tenants to allow them to leave is between 5 and 10 additional days (this is at the discretion of the landlord as there is no guidance on this).

In Ontario, eviction proceedings take at least 25 days.

First, a landlord must issue a Termination Notice (N4 Form) when the tenant is late on rent, then they have to wait 14 days to file an application for eviction (L1 Form) with the Landlord and Tenant Board to evict the tenant.

In addition to this initial 14 days, and unlike any other province, there is also a statutory requirement that the landlord must wait an additional 11 days to allow the tenant to either pay the outstanding balance or vacate the unit before the landlord is allowed to hire a sheriff to enforce the standard order.

In Quebec, the landlord must wait 3 weeks from when the payment was initially due before filing to evict a tenant. Once a tenant is 21 days late, the landlord can then apply to the Tribunal to end the tenancy, remove the tenant, and recover the lost rent.

Following the application for eviction after 21 days, if the tenant pays the outstanding balance to the landlord before the Tribunal reaches a conclusion, then the termination of the tenancy is avoided.

In Nova Scotia, a landlord can only serve a delinquent tenant with a notice after their rent is 15 days late. Further, a landlord must wait an additional 15 days from the date the tenant is handed the eviction notice before the eviction can be carried out, totalling a minimum of 30 days of mandatory wait time before a tenant can be evicted.

In PEI, a landlord can issue a notice to evict the tenant as soon as rent is 1 day late. The tenant then has 20 days to vacate the unit. If they manage to pay the outstanding balance within 10 days, then the eviction notice is invalidated.

Similar to PEI, in New Brunswick the landlord can issue an eviction notice to a tenant as soon as rent is 1 day late. The tenant then has 15 days to vacate the unit.

In Newfoundland when a tenant is 5 days late in paying rent, a landlord will then serve a tenant with notice that the tenancy has ended, and the tenant then has 10 days to vacate the unit amounting to an average of 15 days for the entire eviction process.

Court Delays

Court delays are the length of time between the issuing of the notice to the tenant or filing with the provincial tribunal, to when an arbitrator issues a decision. These numbers include any delays in scheduling a hearing date, and any delays in the arbitration proceedings including the amount of time it takes to release a decision.

How long does it take to get an eviction court order?

In British Columbia, after a landlord files the appropriate 10-day notice to end tenancy for unpaid rent and a tenant has not paid all outstanding rent or vacated the unit, the landlord must then proceed to claim the unpaid rent amount with the provincial tribunal (the RTB).

In BC, the tribunal can take 1-2 weeks to schedule a hearing for the two parties to plead their case depending on the availability of arbitrators and their caseload. Following the end of the arbitration, the tribunal will make the final decision within 30 days of the hearing.

In Alberta, it can take as little as 5 days to as much as 48 days for a landlord to have a hearing scheduled. On average, it takes 25 days after filing a dispute to get a hearing scheduled. Following the conclusion of the hearing, it takes an additional 10 days for the arbitrator to reach a final and binding decision. Depending on the outcome of the possession order, a landlord may further need to wait between 10 to 30 days before they can regain possession of the unit.

In Saskatchewan, due to the lighter caseload, hearings are scheduled approximately 7 days from when the claim is brought the tribunal.

Manitoba’s court system adds an additional 15 days in lost time. This is because it takes approximately 12 days for the hearing to be scheduled. Following the hearing, the arbitrators release the final outcome after 3 days.

Ontario’s court delays total an average of 51 days. It takes 14 days for the provincial tribunal to schedule a hearing. When the hearing date is set, it is typically scheduled for 4-6 weeks later.

Similar to Ontario, Quebec’s tribunal system is subject to heavy delays. It can take up to 3 months in some cases for a tribunal to release a final decision. However, on average, it takes 30 days for a final and binding decision to be made.

For Nova Scotian landlords, it can take up to an additional 20 days to receive a verdict for eviction. This is a combination of delays in scheduling the hearing and waiting for a conclusion by the arbitrator to be reached. 

In PEI, the provincial tribunal prioritises eviction hearings over other landlord-tenant disputes. So hearings are scheduled between 7 – 10 days after the landlord brings forth the claim to the tribunal.

New Brunswick boasts the shortest court delay length across Canada. Landlords there face shorter wait times as it takes an average of 5 days for the court to issue their decision.

In Newfoundland, after requesting a hearing at the Residential Tenancies, there is an additional 14 day wait before the hearing is conducted. While the average length of delay is 14 days, tenants, in some cases, can have up to 18 days to file an appeal and have the case reconsidered.

Sheriff Delays

Following the eviction decision from the court, landlords need to also account for the time it’ll take to hire a sheriff to enforce an order of possession or court order to remove a non-paying tenant and allow a landlord to re-possess his unit.

How long does a sheriff take to evict a tenant?

In every province except for Ontario, it takes between 1-6 days for the sheriff to enforce an eviction. However, in Ontario, due to the backlog of cases in the LTB there is also a high demand for sheriffs to enforce evictions. Therefore, following the issuing of an order to allow a landlord to regain possession of the unit, and following the statutory waiting period of 11 days to allow the tenant to move out of the unit, if the tenant does not leave, it takes an average of 30 days more for an Ontario landlord to hire a sheriff to uphold the eviction order.

This statistic is one of the key reasons why the process of carrying out an eviction in Ontario is longer than any other province. While we see the average across the country is only 4 days, in Ontario this process takes approximately 8 times longer than in the rest of Canada.

How Long Does the Eviction Process Take in Total?

It takes between 2 weeks to 3 months to remove a delinquent tenant (depending on what province you reside in). The province with the longest procedural delays during an eviction is Ontario and the province that has the shortest delays is Saskatchewan.

So how much rent in total can a landlord expect to lose?

You can calculate the total amount of rent a landlord expects to lose while going through the eviction process using this formula:

TOTAL LOST RENT $ = AVG EVICTION TIME (+1 MONTH TO FIND A NEW TENANT) X AVG MONTHLY RENT $

To determine the total cost in lost rent when faced with a delinquent tenant, it is important to consider what the monthly average monthly rent and utilities are in each province:

On top of not receiving rent for multiple months, a landlord can expect to spend an additional 1 extra month to post ads, screen, and sign a lease with a new tenant. This does not include any time spent repairing any possible damages to the property by the delinquent tenant.

This lost income also does not include extra costs such as legal expenses, court fees, etc that may be incurred during eviction proceedings.

The average landlord renting a 1-bedroom unit can expect to lose between $2,000 to $4,000 worth of rent while going through the eviction process. In Ontario, landlords are subject to much higher losses as Ontario landlords can expect to lose $9,000 in rent! This is due to the lengthy eviction process in Ontario (3 to 5 month) combined with the higher avg. rent prices.

B. Eviction Legal Costs

In addition to the rental income that landlords lose during the process of evicting a tenant, they also spend thousands of dollars in legal costs.

There are 3 types of legal costs:

Legal Fees

Legal expenses mainly include the cost of hiring a paralegal to deal with a case on behalf of a landlord. Paralegals will file relevant paperwork, handle the eviction hearing and any other negotiations that may be necessary throughout the process.

Legal Costs For Eviction in Canada

In British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the average landlord spends between $700- $800 to hire a paralegal to carry out the eviction process. 

However, in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland, the average landlord spends approximately $400 – $500 on legal expenses over the course of an eviction.

Unsurprisingly, Ontario and Quebec are the most expensive provinces in relation to hiring legal assistance due to longer eviction processes. In Ontario legal fees cost $2,000 on average and in Quebec they cost $1,000 on average.

Court Fees

Court fees are the payment to be made to the court or a tribunal in order to file a claim or order to evict a tenant. Generally, the average spend for court applications is between $50 to $100. Ontario, once again, remains as the outlier as the cost to file an application with the LTB for eviction is $175 (nearly twice as much as the next most expensive province).

Sheriff Fees

The cost of hiring a sheriff to enforce an order to remove a tenant widely varies across Canada. The average amount ranges between $100 – $200. In Ontario, due to the high demand for sheriffs, a landlord must also spend approximately $400 before a tenant is removed by a sheriff. On the other hand, landlords in Newfoundland, PEI, and New Brunswick pay a measly $50 – $75 for the same service.

C. Estimated Property Damage Costs

Lost rental income is one of the scariest expenses that a landlord can face. The only thing that can make a landlord’s job harder is when a delinquent tenant damages their property before vacating the unit.

In Canada, 1 in 6 eviction cases includes a claim for compensation for damages to the unit in addition to lost rent. The average landlord claims between $1,500 to $3,500 in court against a tenant for damages caused to their unit.

Damages caused to a landlord’s unit tend to extend the waiting time and the amount of losses that a landlord suffers before they are able to find a new tenant and begin renting the unit out once again. It can take 1-2 weeks just to do simple repairs to the property. Landlords may not be able to recover the full amount of damages from the tenant in court so they may still be left with some expenses to cover out of pocket.

What is the total cost of eviction?

In all Canadian provinces, even the least expensive ones, the costs of eviction can be substantial. From the many days it takes to begin eviction proceedings to the additional months it takes to remove a tenant; landlords lose an average of 2 months (60+ days) of rental income going through the process. They also have to account for an extra 1 month of lost rental income till they find a new tenant.

The average cost shouldered by landlords across Canada is between $4,000 to $5,000 in eviction expenses. These costs can even reach $11,000 in more expensive provinces with lengthy processes such as Ontario.

How do landlords protect their rental income and keep renting risk-free?

For a landlord to protect themselves and their unit, the first step to be taken is to perform a proper tenant screening when signing a new lease.

Tenant screening services offer financial insight into the tenant’s history. Some services, like SingleKey offer a comprehensive  Tenant Credit and Background Check in Canada that includes a full credit check, as well as a background check and a social media scan. All this information comes wrapped in one report, and you can get started in just 5 minutes.

For landlords who are looking for additional peace of mind and protection for their unit, products such as the SingleKey Rent Guarantee program offer just that. The SingleKey Rent Guarantee Program protects landlords from losing rental income by guaranteeing up to $60,000 worth of coverage.

How to Screen for Great Tenants

“It’s none of your business what my credit score is!!” How’s that for a start?

Tenants that are soon to live in your property can come in all types : good, bad, really bad. This is why you should do your due diligence before renting out your unit.

If it sounds stressful, don’t worry!

Luckily, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to screen for great tenants and included some tips along the way. 

1. Looks are Deceiving, A Credit Report is Not

After narrowing down your potential tenants to a short list, it is time to select the best one.

A credit report reveals a detailed breakdown of an applicant’s credit history. Credit bureaus are responsible for collecting financial information and a credit report is a great tool to get this info.

An individual’s prior financial history is a good indication of what they will do in the future. Chances are that if someone consistently pays their bills on time, they are most likely to pay their rent on time as well.   

Here is what to look out for in an Equifax credit report: 

    1. Personal Information – such as tenant’s name, address, date of birth and employment information. Make sure that this information matches the info on rental application.
    2. Payment Behavior – how often the applicant is late on their debt payments. Poor payment behaviour will be reflected in the credit score. 
    3. Credit Accounts Information –  the types of accounts, when they were created, the limits and amounts for these accounts as well as payment history.
    4. Debt Type and Amount – The debt amount is not the only important factor, mortgage debt is much safer than credit card debt and as the interest rate will be much lower.
    5. Type of Inquiry –  hard credit bureau inquiries can negatively impact the tenant’s credit score if done too often, soft inquiries do not. A tenant credit check is a soft inquiry.
    6. Public Records and Collections – from public court records such as bankruptcies, collections files, convictions and sometimes past eviction judgements.

2. No Income, No Rent

Credit check looks good? Awesome! 

But how often has your tenant switched jobs and addresses? If the answer is “often”, there is a chance you may have an unexpected vacancy in the near future.

These tenants may have the risk of losing their income and not being able to cover rent.

Another thing to consider is that individuals who work for a salary usually have a safer way to make money rather than those who depend on self-employment or freelance contracts. 

So what should you do? 

Always check the tenant’s source of income, check its reliability and compare it to the required rent payments. Alongside their income, double check their prior addresses and employment history to make sure they’ll be able to pay rent on time.

Not only this, but find out the amount of debt your prospective tenant has, and the monthly interest they are paying. This is important because if your tenant is paying $1000 or more in debt payments, they may not be able to afford the rent.

This credit report will tell you exactly what their total monthly debt payments are.

Tenant rent to income ratio screening tenants credit check

Quick Tip

Create a rent-to-income ratio. Take your prospective tenant’s monthly rent and divide it by their monthly household income. If the rent is over 30% of their income, recognize they are more likely to be delinquent.

An ideal candidate should have additional income to cover the rent payments in the case of unexpected expenses. 

If your tenant has been consistently changing addresses and jobs, be wary of them doing the same with you.

3. Run a Background Check

A background check is used to investigate a candidate’s history. It generally includes employment, education, criminal records, credit history, motor vehicle and license record checks. 

So how do I run a background check? 

It’s easy! All you need is:

  1. Tenant’s Full Name
  2. Driber’s license or Social Security Number (both optional)
  3. Date of Birth
  4. Current Address

4. Contact the Previous Landlord

The more information, the better. See if it is possible to contact the former landlord. Chances are the previous landlords will happily share their experience with your prospective tenant. They will relate to and understand your questions and will be inclined to help a fellow landlord.   By reaching out, you would be surprised by what you can find out!  While respecting the landlord’s time and not being too pushy, you should look to acquire more insights on the prospective tenant. Here are some sample questions that you can ask the former landlord:
  • Has the tenant paid you all the rent?
  • Does the tenant pay on time?
  • Has the tenant caused damage to your property?
  • Were they respectful towards the neighbors?
  • Would you rent out your property to this tenant again? 

Quick Tip

It is always better to try and contact more than one landlord in case they are just trying to get rid of their past tenant.

5. Join a Facebook Group

Have a question stuck on your mind but don’t know who to ask? Join a Facebook group of landlords from your province. 

Members of these groups share stories about their experiences and will provide advice that can help you with your current situation.

They will also often share information amongst the group about delinquent tenants and it might save you hours of figuring that out on your own. 

The Facebook admins assist with all questions relating to the Residential Tenancies Act and will help answer your questions!

Landlord Facebook Groups Across Canada

6. Interview the tenant

Have you taken all the steps to screen for a great tenant? Well, it still might not be enough. You can spend weeks screening a tenant but sometimes your instincts are the best judgement. 

Think of the screening as weeding through the candidates that you certainly do not want living in your property.

Quick Tip

When hiring a realtor, their objective is usually to find a tenant in the shortest amount of time. So you might end up with an average tenant rather than a great tenant, which may result in problems over time.

After thoroughly screening your prospective tenant and confirming they’re good on paper, talking to them over a cup of coffee might be the best screening of all.

“Talk to them? About what?” 

Well, first things first, ask about what you want to find out. You should ask about their past renting experience, and see if their story aligns to their references and feedback from past landlords. 

An easy way to start up that conversation is by saying “I know how difficult landlords can be when it comes to their property. How was your past relationship with the landlord?”

You might just find out that they’re in court right now for an eviction.

Final Word

As a landlord, you cannot rely on the paperwork alone to carry out a tenant background search. You have to be creative and willing to engage with tenants on a personal level. Conversations can help you better understand the way your tenants relate to others and how they handle conflict, all of which are essential to achieve the best tenant screening.

Following these 6 steps will minimize the risk involved in renting your unit. Investing in proper tenant screening pays off down the road. With SingleKey, you can get a comprehensive tenant screening report in minutes, including a background check, credit report, employment history, past addresses and evictions, and criminal record.