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How to Collect from a Tenant for Property Damage?

Key Takeaways

The Residential Tenancies Act 2006 (RTA) outlines that certain landlord and tenant disputes are to be handled by the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB). Following the enactment of Bill 184, it is within the LTB’s jurisdiction to hear cases where landlords claim that tenants have damaged their rental unit. Applications must be submitted to the LTB within one year from the date that the tenant vacates the unit. This article outlines the process in a few easy steps.

Published on Dec 7, 2021 | Updated on Nov 28, 2023

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1. Filing An L2 Application To Get Started

To start, where a tenant causes damage to a landlord’s rental unit and has moved out, the landlord can complete and file an L2 Application with the LTB.  The LTB will then process the L2 Application set a hearing date and time.  Currently, these hearings and being held virtually (by video or telephone).

Once the LTB sets a hearing date and time, the LTB will email or mail a Notice of Hearing to the landlord and then the landlord is required to serve a copy of the Notice or Hearing and L2 Application on each of the tenants named in the L2 Application.  In cases where the landlord does not have the tenant’s address information, there are other methods to serving the tenant such as calling the employer to confirm their employment or searching the Ministry of Transportation using the tenant’s driver’s license to find their current residence.  It is recommended that landlords have or find an address for their former tenant or tenants before filing their L2 Application because landlords may not have much time between getting the Notice of Hearing and the hearing date and time.

In addition to the Notice of Hearing and L2 Application, a landlord must also serve each of the tenants with a complete copy of any evidence (videos, pictures, estimates, receipts, etc.) they intend to use at least 7 days before the hearing. 

2. Hearing Process

During the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence to a neutral Member (an Adjudicator). Following the hearing, both parties can expect to receive a written decision, otherwise known as an Order, from the LTB.

3. Collecting Payment Following A Judgement

It is important to note that where the tenant is not employed but receives social assistance, a landlord cannot generally garnish this form of income to pay their Order. Alternatively, landlords do have the right to engage a collections agency as a method of collecting the outstanding amounts owing under an Order.

Once the LTB releases an “Order” for the tenant to pay, landlords can collect the outstanding amount and enforce the LTB’s Order by filing the Order along with Garnishment(s) or other processes (for example, a Notice of Examination, Writ of Seizure and Sale) with the Small Claims Court office closest to where the former tenant resides. A Notice of Garnishment is made against the tenant’s employer or bank branch where the tenant has active accounts. In such cases, where the tenant is found to owe money to a landlord, Notice of Garnishment requests that the tenant employer or bank transfer the money to the court and the court pays the landlord.  Alternatively, and in the case of a Notice of Examination, this process can be used to compel a former tenant against which an Order has been made, to come to Court and answer questions regarding the former tenant’s assets, income, banking, etc.  The information obtained during an Examination can be used for subsequent Garnishments and Writs of Seizure and Sale.

In certain cases, it can be beneficial to seek out additional legal assistance to deal with this process. In circumstances where the tenant owes between $1,000 – $2,000 of damages, it might not be worth hiring a paralegal to reclaim these expenses as the paralegal fees start at about $900. Where the damages are worth 4-5k of damages, seeking additional assistance becomes more profitable. 

Avoid Bad Tenants with SingleKey’s Tenant Reports

Credit for this article to: Thomas Schoenleber, Licensed Paralegal. Reach out to Thomas at Sterling Paralegal for your paralegal needs.

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