Calling All Class Action Lawyers…

January 18th, 2012 · 9 Comments · Landlord Advocacy

Lyon (Rhône)
Creative Commons License photo credit: sybarite48

Welcome back folks!

It’s a new year and I hope you haven’t screwed it up already. I did and in an absolutely awful way.

A Novice Mistake

I had a call in date for the sheriff (Eviction) and I forgot to call in.

How I’m Making It Right

Everybody screws up every once in while and when I told Jeff that I had forgotten to call the Sheriff, he informed me that it happens all the time. The difference is that most property management companies are not as transparent as I am. So I called the owner and apologized and told them I will pay the difference in rent from January 4th to February 28th. A couple thousand dollars will ensure I never forget the sheriff again. In a decent system, I’d be able to call them and schedule for the next week so not such a big deal.

How It Works – Residential Tenancies Ontario

  1. N-4 gives 14 days to pay
  2. File L-1 with N-4 and Certificate of Service and pay $170 to the Landlord & Tenant Board
  3. Upon Filing you get 2 Notices of Hearing that state your hearing date. One is for you, one is for the tenant.
  4. Deliver the tenant’s Notice of Hearing and send in another Certificate of Service
  5. Wait for the Hearing Date
  6. Go to the Hearing and hopefully get an Order or Mediated Agreement
  7. Wait anxiously by your mailbox for the official copy of the Order
  8. Once you get Landlord & Tenant Board Order wait 11 days for the tenant to pay
  9. Then finally take your Order down to the Sheriff’s Office and pay $330 to $380
  10. Wait Some More
  11. Get a paper that tells you when to call the Sheriff to tell them if your Delinquent tenant is still living a free a life
  12. You have two hours in which to call and leave a message stating your file number
  13. Wait until the Sheriff calls you back
  14. The Sheriff calls and tells you what date and time to be there for the actual honest to goodness eviction
  15. Sheriff comes to evict your tenants, you change the locks.
  16. Deadbeat has another 72 hours to remove their stuff and themselves from your life

So long story short January 4th when I was supposed to be calling the Sheriff I was not. I had two apartments one next to the other. One was for January 4th and the other was for January 17th. I thought both call in dates were on the same day. When I discovered my mistake, I had to refile. This cost an additional $240 and I have to wait until February 28th.

How It Works – Commercial Tenancies

  1. Wait 17 days
  2. Call Bailiff
  3. Bailiff comes within a couple of days – Charges $95
  4. Change locks

So Why A Class Action?

A class action lawsuit is designed especially for cases like this where many people are harmed but the amount of each case is not enough to justify suing the government of Ontario. At the end of day of the day these delays cost landlords as a group hundreds of thousands in losses every single year. Individually the unnecessary delays cost each landlord $2000 – $3000 per case. Individually we cannot sue but as a group we might be able to. This is the entire purpose of class action lawsuits.

The Residential Tenancies Act states…

Expeditious procedures

183.  The Board shall adopt the most expeditious method of determining the questions arising in a proceeding that affords to all persons directly affected by the proceeding an adequate opportunity to know the issues and be heard on the matter. 2006, c. 17, s. 183.

I have news people! A landlord is a person! Now of the 12 provinces only Ontario manages to be so unbelievably slow. Seriously, I think the Landlord & Tenant Board is waiting for your predatory tenant to die of old age so they can avoid evicting them.

Do Landlords Want To Evict Tenants?

Hell No! We need tenants money so we can turn around and pay the bank and property taxes and maintenance bills. After that if we have any money left over we could buy a nice chocolate bar. Evicting tenants for no reason is stupid and expensive. You need to advertise for new ones, renovate, have vacancy loss and so on and so forth. Plus every landlord I know is proud of providing housing for people. We provide an essential service.

Give Us A Bone!

Would it kill the government of Ontario to let landlords use private bailiffs? Imagine a world where we could pay $95 and not wait 6-8 weeks for the Sheriff. By the time the landlord gets around to the Sheriff in the GTA the tenant has received 5 notifications that they owe rent and a court order that gives them 11 days to pay or stay. Why give another 6-8 weeks?

The government has a legislative monopoly on this service and they charge over 3 times what private companies doing the same task charge. If they were fast as they are in some regions like Hamilton I wouldn’t bitch so much about it. (Hamilton Sheriff’s are fantastic by the way!) But triple charges and an unbelievably slow, slow, slow service? It’s too much, because the law says I should get expeditious service. The Ontario Government should be sued into the next century for the way they treat landlords.

A lawsuit for millions of dollars would wake them up to the fact that they can indeed be slow as long as they pay for the rental losses the landlords have to suffer. The situation is unacceptable.

Am I onto something here? If you agree with this, comment or shoot me a tweet. If you’re a lawyer what do you think? Am I crazy or crazy wonderful?

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9 Comments so far ↓

  • Potato

    Can’t speak to the legality or whether a lawyer could actually win the case, but even as a tenant I think it’s a good idea. I think the law as written in Ontario is pretty good, but the delays in getting hearings at the LTB and getting evictions are unacceptable.

    • Rachelle

      It’s true potato, imagine living next to a guy who constantly makes unreasonable noise. If a straightforward case like non payment takes forever you can imagine how hard it is to deal with something intangible like noise or smell.

      Plus imagine those costs don’t go away, so every tenant also pays in the way of increased rent.

      • Potato

        Yes… “imagine”… :)

        One of the reasons we’ve sprung for detached or duplexes the last few rentals rather than an apartment was the headache of a bad neighbour in an apartment building. Loud, booming music so bad it shook the furniture. It stressed the cat out so much she broke out in a rash. Food fight in the hallway one night. Took over 5 months to get them evicted.

        But even aside from the issues of bad tenants is the matter of fairness. Having a non-paying tenant is unfortunately a risk landlords have to take on, it’s a cost of doing business. But the law should help them mitigate that risk with reasonable limits to how much that ultimately costs them — and that comes down to reasonable times for eviction.

        I’m a big believer in balance: tenants should have rights, and so landlords shouldn’t have carte blanche to have the tenant’s stuff on the street 48 hours after non-payment. But landlords should have rights and reasonable expectations too. A 14-day period to sort out matters themselves and to allow for regular, minor delays to sort themselves out before going to the LTB is reasonable.

        But then once it’s clear there’s a problem, the landlord only has a 1-month rent deposit, and should at most have to cover another 1-2 months themselves. So the LTB/sheriff machinery should be working towards eviction ~45 days after the hearing. Yet everything I’ve heard from landlords (and property managers like yourself) says that this is not the way the system is working, not even close. So it should be fixed.

  • Devore

    Cases of non-payment are so clear-cut, it shouldn’t take more than a month. If by next month they’re not paid up, out with them. The rent is either paid, or it is not. There is nothing to find out, determine or hear. Professional deadbeat tenants mooching months of free service should not be the norm. So, uhm, yeah, fight The Man!

  • A

    It works both ways. There are more dead beat Landlords out there then there are deadbeat tenants.
    When you get a landlord that is more interested in money then fulfilling any of their responsibilities.
    Serve the landlord with a notice for improper maintenance or loss of quiet enjoyment and the waiting game starts.

    • Rachelle

      That is a total lie as evidence I present the Landlord & Tenant Board’s own numbers which show that even though tenant applications are free in many cases there are 10 times more applications filed against tenants for non payment than there are for all tenant cases.

      The deadbeat landlords that are in so much abundance as you claim we would see the number of applications for lack of maintenance go up? No?

  • john

    I think Quebec is even worst than Ontraio.
    I have a tenant that hasn’t paid in 3 months and I am still waiting for a court date. I wish I could sue the “Regie du logement” as they do not seem to understand that I should not be held responsible to provide free appartments to people that abuse the system.
    The funny thing is if you owed money to the government they will grill you in no time. Try defaulting on your taxes

    • Rachelle

      I’m not sure it can be worse than Ontario, but I’m willing to feel bad for all landlords everywhere stuck with these bad situations!

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