If you are a residential landlord or you are contemplating becoming one, you should have a look at some of the new rules.
The Residential Tenancies Act came into force in January 2007. Basically, it tips the scales of justice a little further in favour of tenants and particularly professional tenants.
Some of the changes are difficult to justify and one might speculate that they are motivated more by politics and perception than they are by necessity.
One of the new hotly contested issues is the matter of the eviction process. Under the former legislation, a Landlord could make application to evict a Tenant for non-payment of rent. If the Tenant did not oppose the application, the Landlord could obtain a Judgment by default. This streamlined the eviction procedures somewhat and is similar to other civil actions in other Courts. This right has been changed. All cases will now be placed on the trial list, whether the Tenant opposes the eviction or not. Naturally, you can assume and you will be right, this takes up a lot of additional time and makes for an inefficient system.
There is an additional issue. If the Tenant shows up before the Landlord and Tenant Board, any issues related to the tenancy can be raised. This matter is fraught with difficulty. The Landlord is caught off-guard and either the case needs to be adjourned or the Landlord needs to be ready for a full trial on every occasion.
The Landlord and Tenant Board has the right to reduce the rent, order payment of a abatement in rent and freeze the rent pending a further application. This can happen simply in a proceeding to have the Tenant evicted for non-payment and essentially without notice to the Landlord.
The result is difficult for Landlords. Every case must be prepared thoroughly, as if all issues that might arise during the course of a tenancy must be defended against. Obviously, this will be costly.
In addition, at every Landlord and Tenant Board hearing, there is a lawyer made available free of charge to assist tenants, no not both parties (that would be too fair) just tenants.
The legislation now 25 years in place has developed a group of “professional Tenants” who never pay any rent to anybody, anytime, except, of course, for “first and last”.
So, if you are a residential Landlord or want to be, then be careful!
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker