The process for enforcing the non-payment of utilities is very different than enforcing the non-payment of rent. If you are involved in a landlord and tenant dispute, you should contact a housing lawyer immediately to assist you, as every individual case will vary.
When rent is all inclusive the landlord pays for the utilities in the rental unit, however in many circumstances, landlords will have the tenants pay for certain utilities. Occasionally there will be times where a tenant will fail to pay their utilities and a landlord will attempt to evict them through the familiar non-payment of rent process. This is the incorrect procedure and will lead to the Landlord and Tenant Board dismissing the landlord’s application, further delaying the eviction process.
How to Secure an Eviction
In order to evict a tenant for non-payment of utilities, a landlord would need to apply to the Board on the basis that the tenant was violating the landlord’s legal rights, privileges or interests. The correct application to give the tenant would be an N5 Notice to End Your Tenancy for Interfering with Others, Damage or Overcrowding, followed by an application to the Board for a hearing if they did not correct the problem (pay) within 7 days. While the Board does have the jurisdiction to order an eviction for unpaid utilities, unfortunately the Board does not have the jurisdiction to order the payment of the unpaid utilities, unlike if it were a case of unpaid rent. As such you would need to make another, separate application to the Small Claims Court to secure an order for payment of the unpaid utilities. If, however the tenant’s non-payment has resulted in damage to the unit (i.e.: a burst pipe) the Board does have the jurisdiction to award payment for the damages caused.
How to Get an Order for Payment of the Unpaid Utilities
In order to get an order for the non-payment of the utilities, you would need an Order from the Small Claims Court (presuming the amount unpaid was less than $25,000). While technically you may file a claim within 2 years of the incident occurring (this is known as the limitation period). It may be advantageous to serve your tenant while they are still living in the property, as you may be unable to find their new address for service after they move out. To proceed you would need to follow all of the Small Claims Court rules of procedure, the process would begin by filing a Statement of Claim at the courts’ office in your jurisdiction.
Another option before proceeding with eviction and a court claim may be to refer your tenant to a local “Keep the Heat” program, which helps low income individuals with unpaid utility bills.
If you are involved in a landlord tenant dispute the best way to protect your interests is to hire a landlord tenant board lawyer to work on your case. Mehdi Au LLP has experienced housing lawyers on staff who can work on your case.
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