Renting During COVID-19
In response to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, no new eviction orders will be issued until further notice and sheriff’s offices will postpone any scheduled enforcement of current eviction orders. Tenants must pay rent while an eviction order is not being enforced.
How the eviction process works
The typical evictions process is explained below. Changes due to COVID-19 have been highlighted.
If the landlord gives a tenant notice to end the tenancy, the tenant does not have to move out. The landlord must apply for an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board (also known as the Board). The tenant has the right to go to a hearing and explain why they should not be evicted.
- Notice: In most cases, the first step is for the landlord to give the tenant a notice in writing that they want the tenant to move out. Landlords must use an official notice from the Board. Sometimes a tenant can prevent the tenancy from ending by stopping the behaviour referred to in the notice, or by doing what the notice requests. This is a called a tenant’s remedy. The notice explains what this is and gives a deadline for the tenant to comply.
COVID-19 update: Landlords can still give eviction notices, however, landlords are encouraged to work with tenants to establish fair arrangements to keep tenants in their homes, including deferring rent or other payment arrangements.
- Application: If the tenant does not remedy the situation or move out, the landlord can file an application to the Board to end the tenancy. Most applications must be made within 30 days of the termination date set out in the notice. However, there is no deadline to apply to end a tenancy for non-payment of rent.
COVID-19 update: Landlord and Tenant Board counter services are closed, but the most common types of applications can still be filed online..
- Hearing: In most cases, the Board will schedule a hearing to decide the landlord’s application. It will mail a Notice of Hearing to the landlord(s) and tenant(s) along with a copy of the application.
COVID-19 update: 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.
- Order: A Board member will make a decision about the landlord’s application to end the tenancy and whether the tenant should be evicted or not. The member’s decision is always put in writing. This written decision is called an order. The Board will mail a copy of the order to both the landlord and tenant.
COVID-19 update: No new eviction orders will be issued until further notice, unless the matter relates to an urgent issue such as an illegal act or serious safety concerns.
- Enforcement: If a tenant doesn’t leave the rental unit by the termination date in the eviction order, a landlord cannot personally enforce the order (remove a tenant from a rental unit or change the locks). An eviction order can only be enforced by the Court Enforcement Office (also known as the Sheriff’s Office). The landlord must file a copy of the Board order with the Sheriff’s Office to have the order enforced.
COVID-19 update: Enforcement of residential eviction orders is suspended until further notice. By order of the Superior Court of Justice, enforcement of eviction orders is suspended during the suspension of regular court operations, unless the court orders otherwise.
Get more information from the Landlord and Tenant Board about the eviction process.
What to do if you’re locked out
It is illegal for a landlord to change the locks to a rental unit or the building, without giving the tenant a key for the new locks. If you are a tenant and a landlord has locked you out, or is threatening to lock you out, contact the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit:
Entering a rental unit and physical distancing
A landlord can only enter a tenant’s unit in specific circumstances. In most cases, the landlord must:
- give the tenant 24 hours written notice
- state what day and time they will enter (between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.)
- state the reason for entering the unit
There are some exceptions to this requirement, for example, in case of emergency. If the landlord has a valid reason for entering the unit, a tenant cannot refuse to let the landlord in.
COVID-19 update: During this unusual time, patience and understanding from landlords and tenants is necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Landlords are encouraged to request entry only in urgent situations and to follow physical distancing guidelines.
Landlords who are selling tenant-occupied homes are strongly advised to follow the guidance of the Real Estate Council of Ontario and avoid in-person showings. Landlords are subject to the Human Rights Code and have a duty to accommodate tenants under protected grounds, including people with disabilities. For example, conducting an in-person showing when a tenant has an immune-compromising condition could lead to a complaint under the Code.
People are encouraged to work together to protect the health and safety of tenants, landlords and the public at large.
Tenants who can pay their rent must do so, to the best of their abilities. Landlords are entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day that an eviction order is not enforced. However, tenants who are asked to self-isolate or who can’t work may have difficulty paying their rent.
We encourage landlords and tenants to work together during this difficult time to establish fair arrangements to keep tenants in their homes.
Tenants who are having challenges paying rent should speak with their landlords about possibly deferring their rent or other payment arrangements.
Assistance for tenants
If you need financial help you can:
- contact your local service manager
- apply for COVID-19 emergency assistance
- access federal government programs
Assistance for landlords
Landlords may wish to:
- talk to their municipality about help with property taxes and municipal service fees
- inquire with their mortgage lender about mortgage payment deferrals
- investigate federal government programs
Can I be evicted if I can’t pay rent? I’m losing income because of COVID-19.
March 24, 2020
When tenants are behind in their rent, landlords can give them a notice. 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 for an eviction order. If the tenant isn’t able to stop it, eventually the eviction order can be enforced by the local Court Enforcement Office (Sheriff’s office).
On March 19, 2020, the provincial government got a court order suspending the enforcement of eviction orders by Sheriff’s offices. The suspension is in effect until normal court operations resume. It is possible for exceptions to be made but the landlord would have to convince the Superior Court of Justice that the situation is extremely urgent.
Also, all in-person Landlord and Tenant Board hearings are postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date. Options such as written and telephone hearings will be considered where practical. Front-line counter services will be closed until further notice.
It’s important to note that even though evictions are stopped for a while, you will probably have to get caught up on your rent eventually. For information about possible sources of income support, go to Steps to Justice and also check our COVID-19 updates page.