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Eviction Rules: Do You Know Fact From Fiction?

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Written by Jackie Marchildon

Hopefully during your life as a renter you haven't had to rely on the Residential Tenancies Act too much. If that's not the case, you're likely well versed in some part of your rights, but maybe not all of them. Many of us renters rely on hearsay information we've picked up over the years and as it turns out, a lot of it is misconstrued or, in some cases, completely wrong.

Myth 1: You cannot be evicted during the winter.

One of the classic myths in today's rental world is that you cannot be evicted during the winter months. In many cities across Canada, that would essentially equate to a six-month period. I admit, I thought this was true. As it turns out, a tenant can generally be evicted at any time as long as the landlord has followed the appropriate procedures outlined in their provincial Residential Tenancies Act. As in all eviction cases, the landlord would need to give the tenant the appropriate notice and the reasons for eviction need to be valid.

The number of days of notice varies and because of this and the process in general, you might not actually be evicted during the winter, even if you were handed a notice in December. For example, if you owe rent in Ontario, your landlord must give you 14 days' notice (only seven days if you pay rent by the week or by the day) to pay the arrears. If you do not pay the arrears before the set date, your landlord can then submit an application to schedule an eviction hearing with the Landlord and Tenant Board. While you wait for a hearing, you can still live in the property.

Bonus tip: A lot of people think your utilities can't be shut off in the winter. While that is mostly true, the laws around this vary from province to province and there are instances to look out for. In Alberta, for example, electricity cannot be fully disconnected between October 15 and April 15, but the electrical company can install a limiter - a limiter allows you to run your furnace and a few lights but nothing more.


Myth 2: You cannot be evicted if you're pregnant.

Another myth I've heard is that you cannot evict someone who is pregnant or who has small children. Generally speaking, if the pregnant person or parent with children has done something to merit eviction, they can be given notice to vacate the property. That sounds harsh, but if you think about it, if the law dictated that parents with small children couldn't be evicted, that would mean that a parent with a baby could avoid eviction for years until the baby was no longer considered a small child. That wouldn't really be fair to the landlord. Of course, when it comes time for the eviction hearing, the case for the parent can still be made and the eviction decision will be made based on specific circumstances.

Myth 3: You cannot be evicted because the landlord wants to use the property.

Something you hear about often is landlords deciding they want you out because a family member needs to move in. In Ontario, family in this case means spouse, child, parent, spouse's child, spouse's parent or a caregiver for any of them. This is 100 per cent within their rights. They need to give you appropriate notice (in B.C., for example, this case requires a two-month notice) but there is no point in fighting this one as it's perfectly legal.

Myth 4: You can be evicted for sneaking in your pet (Ontario).

In Ontario, you cannot be evicted for sneaking in your pet, unless you rent in a condo that has board-regulated pet restrictions, your pet is causing allergic reactions or interfering with the enjoyment of the landlord or other tenants. In B.C. and Alberta, however, you can be considered in breach of your lease and can be evicted if you chose to disregard the no-pet clause.

When it comes to evictions laws, it's important to know your rights. It's also important to be a decent tenant -- we've all heard landlord horror stories, but there are tenant horror stories too. The landlord-tenant relationship is a reciprocal one, and a business agreement in the end, so all you can do is hope that you both hold up your end of the contract.

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