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One of the biggest complains from tenants living in expensive cities is “renovictions.” To recap, this is when landlords evict their tenants under the guise of “renovation” so that they can raise rent above guidelines. I wrote about this in a previous post and today, we’re going to see a real-life example of someone who actually sued their landlord and won in small claims court!
I’m sure the comments below will be full of thoughtful and civilized discussions. *slides sharpened knives onto table while whistling nonchalantly*
So, without further ado, let’s hear it from “Mrs.I-Fought-My-Landlord-And-Won:”
1) How long have you been living in your place?
About two years
2) Tell me a bit about your place (# of bedrooms, type of rental, etc)?
We rented a 2 bd, 2 bath condo in the North York area of Toronto.
3) Tell me about your experience with your landlord.
When we first rented the property, we worked with the landlord’s property manager and seldomly interacted with the landlord. When we renewed our lease after the first year, the landlord had stopped using the property manager, so we worked with him directly. We would help him collect mail that was sent to our address, and his receptionist would pick it up from us usually in the lobby. So, we didn’t really interact with him much unless he needed something.
Near the end of our 2nd year lease, the landlord started messaging us about his child wanting to move back in and he was also thinking of selling, but then kept changing his mind. He also wanted to up our rent by more than the rental increase guideline, which we rejected. Then he started to become quite rude and unpleasant to deal with.
We told him that we had no intentions of moving, but if his son was moving back in, we would need some time to look for a new place because I was scheduled to give birth near the end of our lease. It would be really challenging to look for places and move during this time.
4) How did you manage to take them to small claims court and win?
Throughout this ordeal, I had a feeling the landlord was going to sell and that the claim that his child was moving back in was just to be able to evict us so he could renovate and sell. Which is exactly what happened. We were keeping an eye on the property through Zolo, and when we saw the listing, we starting looking at the process for filing a bad faith claim against the landlord.
We took screenshots of all the evidence we had in order to prove that the landlord was selling the unit and proceeded with the application with the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).
When it came to our court date, we presented our evidence to the judge, and she asked us a few questions about the application like what damages we’re looking to claim. We were eligible for a year’s worth of the difference in rent and moving expenses. She granted those to us and scolded the landlord a bit.
So all in all, it was a relatively straight forward process. Just a lot of anxiety around this situation because it feels like you’re going to battle in very unfamiliar grounds.
5) Does taking them to court make it difficult to get references for future rentals?
When we got our next rental, the landlord never asked for references so this didn’t affect us.
6) Is there anything you would’ve done differently?
hmm.. haha maybe claim more expenses.
7) What did you learn from this experience?
I learned more about my rights as a tenant and how to navigate the small claims system. I also learned about the tenant hotline that’s been pretty useful to discuss tenant related issues.
8) What advice would you give to other tenants in a similar situation?
I would tell other tenants to make sure they educate themselves on their rights, and what they’re entitled to.
9) Do you think the laws do enough to protect tenants? Why or why not? Would you change anything?
No, because the fines are not great enough to deter landlords from evicting in bad faith.
In the end he had to pay not even $10k, which is nothing compared to the profits he made from selling the property.
Also, even after there is a judgement against the landlord, the landlord might not pay and the tenant has to do the following up to make sure they get the money.
For our situation, the landlord had to pay us by a deadline, but hadn’t done so. We ended up having to go the route of garnishing the landlords wage from his bank. I’m a little fuzzy on the details now but I remember going
to the LTB to first apply to garnish wages. Then I had to bring a copy to the landlord’s bank and wait to see if we would get paid. It was funny because that same week we actually received the cheque from the landlord, but it was too late. The garnishment was already taking place.
The reason I even knew about how to do the garnishment was because I dug around the internet and found a really helpful article about another guy who went through a very similar situation. He broke the process down step by step which was amazing.
All in all, there is not much support for tenants and the onus is on the tenant to make sure they get what they deserve.
Wow, so I learned a lot today. Apparently, if your landlord acts in bad faith you can take them to court without repercussions for your next rental AND garnish your landlord’s wages if they refuse to pay.
What do you think? Was the verdict fair? Has this ever happened to you?
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