I have been to the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) in Ontario several times over my past 12 years of landlording and while I have not been successful every time, I have been successful most of the time. The key to success at the LTB starts before getting there, and in fact starts before an issue arises with a Tenant. I could tell you that it starts by only onboarding high-quality tenants but sometimes even that cannot prevent going to the LTB - and that will be for another post. If we start at the point where you turn over the keys to your new Tenant the keys to success are:
Ensure that your Tenant knows you are a professional, operate in a business-like manner and don’t overlook late payments or violations Tenants have committed – smoking in units, disabling smoke detectors, not taking out garbage etc. Notify them of their violation promptly and on the date the violation happens. If a formal Notice is required i.e. N4, N5 etc. deliver it on the day of or the day after the violation occurred and complete the Certificate of Delivery (a must).
Notices available here: http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/forms/#landlord-forms
The paperwork delivered has to be perfect (No Tenant unit errors, name errors, date errors etc.) or you risk having it thrown out by the adjudicator at the hearing. Triple check all notices and paperwork that are being delivered to the Tenant and the LTB, if notices are getting too complicated seek out the advice of a paralegal.
Keep a paper trail of conversations and happenings. For example, if you are texting or emailing with tenants keep these conversations organized and stored somewhere they will be accessible - you never know when you might need them. Always follow up a phone conversation with a Tenant with an email or text message.
Send yourself emails noting something you noticed that wasn’t right or you are questioning, sometimes you look at something or notice something that is a little off – take a picture, send yourself a note and digest it. The reason for this feeling may not be obvious in the moment but after thinking about it for a little while the reason for the uneasiness becomes apparent. These pictures and notes to yourself should be sent through your email to yourself to validate the date and time of the incident and can be used at the hearing as evidence.
If and when you get an LTB date, prepare by putting a list together in chronological order in bullet points, use a binder with tabs if necessary to keep it all organized. With each bullet point you can now use your texts, emails, photos and notes to help substantiate your case. Make sure you print three copies of everything as any evidence you submit you must provide the adjudicator with a copy as well as the Tenant.
Don’t be afraid of mediation, sometimes sitting down with the Tenant or having a Paralegal sit down with the Tenant as opposed to being in front of an adjudicator can save time and potentially result in a better outcome for the Landlord. Just make sure you have a game plan for this first.
At the end of the day, the side that is the most prepared, the most reasonable and can best demonstrate their position is most likely going to win. If you are looking to work with a Real Estate Agent who has a background in Investment, Property Management or Renovations – contact me to chat as I would love to understand what your vision is for your next home or investment.
Derek D. Wacker