Prepared by: Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (Adapted from CLEO Steps to Justice, COVID-19-Housing Law)
Current as of: April 16, 2020
Note: This information applies to tenants protected by Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). If you share washroom or kitchen with your landlord, the RTA may not apply to your tenancy. Therefore, the following information might not be applicable in your case.
Q: I couldn’t pay rent this month and my landlord is threatening to evict me. Or there is another reason under the RTA that my landlord wants to evict me. What can I do?
A: Landlords can’t evict you themselves. This means they can’t change the locks and they can’t get someone else, like the police, to evict you. There is a process that landlords have to follow.
On March 19, 2020, the Ontario government put an order in place that all hearings related to eviction applications are suspended until further notice, except for urgent disputes such as those involving illegal acts or serious safety concerns. But if the landlord can convince the Superior Court of Justice that the situation is extremely urgent, the court might make an exception.
If your landlord is threatening to evict you now, there are a few things you can do:
- Store your important documents, including personal ID, rental lease and communication record between you and landlord in a safe place outside your current rental unit.
- Call the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit (RHEU) at 1-888-772-9277 (toll-free) or 416-585-7214. The RHEU can contact your landlord to discuss the situation. They might be able to get your landlord to stop, or to let you back in if you’ve already been evicted illegally.
- Contact your local community legal clinic or CSALC, which provides free legal services to low income, non-English speaking clients from the Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian communities in Ontario.
- If you can’t get legal help, you can make an urgent application to the LTB using their online Form T2 . There is a $45 filing fee which you will have to pay by credit card or debit card.
- Call the police non-emergency number. Sometimes police officers won’t get involved in this kind of situation. But many police services are aware of the danger of illegal evictions during the COVID-19 crisis.
Normal eviction process for rent arrear
- Landlords can give tenants notices of eviction for not paying rent on time. If the tenant doesn’t pay within 14 days, or within 7 days if it’s a weekly tenancy, the landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for an eviction order. If the tenant isn’t able to stop the eviction, the eviction order can later be enforced. Normally, your landlord can get the Sheriff to physically evict you and change the lock. But during the COVID-19 emergency, the LTB is not scheduling any eviction hearings, including for rent arrears, and Sheriff’s offices are not carrying out any evictions orders.
- Even though evictions are stopped for a while, you will likely have to get caught up on your rent eventually, even if you have lost income because of COVID-19. For information about possible sources of income support, go to our website. You can also find more information on CLEO COVID-19 updates page.
Q: I have a hearing coming up at the Landlord and Tenant Board. Should I go?
A: No. On March 19, 2020, the government announced that all in-person hearings at the LTB are postponed and will be rescheduled to a later date. Front-line counter services are also closed until further notice.
The LTB will consider written hearings or telephone hearings for some cases.
The LTB should contact you about a new date. Make sure to watch for phone calls or notices in the mail. If you are represented by a lawyer or paralegal, make sure to tell them right away if the LTB contacts you.
Q: Can my landlord refuse to come in to do repairs because of COVID-19?
- Your landlords is responsible for repairs and maintenance of your unit and any common areas of the building, except for damage caused by you or your guests. This hasn’t changed because of the COVID-19 emergency.
- If your landlord doesn’t feel safe coming into your unit because of COVID-19, you can ask them to hire professional tradespeople to do the repair. Residential and maintenance repair services were not required to close under the March 24, 2020 emergency order. You can tell your landlord to look at item 20 on this list of essential services, which should cover necessary maintenance.
- If you’re sick from COVID-19 or you’re self-isolating or quarantined, you should make sure your landlord tells the repair service. Before starting work, the tradespeople might want to take precautions such as wearing a mask or other protective clothing. Or they might want to wait until your situation changes, for example, when 14 days have passed.
- You should allow a reasonable time for your landlord to get the repair done. What is a reasonable time will depend on how urgent the problem is and if you’re in self-isolation or quarantine. For example, a broken fridge is usually more urgent than a dripping tap.
- If your landlord doesn’t take action, you can ask your local property standards or by-law enforcement office to send an inspector. But during the COVID-19 emergency, they might not be doing inspections except in the most urgent situations.
- If your landlord can’t or won’t get the repair done and it can’t wait, you might be able to do it yourself and then ask your landlord to repay you. You should do this only as a last resort and only if you’re sure you can do the repair properly and safely. Tell the landlord you plan to do the work and send them an estimate of the cost. Make sure to keep receipts for materials and keep track of the time you spend working on it.