Most landlords find themselves out of pocket if a tenant damages property as they are vacating. These damages can include stained carpets, markings on the walls, holes in the drywall, broken appliances including filthy ovens and refrigerators, damage caused by pets, broken faucets, and showerheads…just to name a few. In addition to the damages, any garbage left on the premises has to be disposed of. Circumstances like these arise mostly when tenants are evicted.
The expenses add up when you consider the cost of repairs, replacement of appliances, cleaning, and garbage disposal. And more often than not, Landlords have to bear all these costs on their own if they want to get their investment property rented out again. But the question is: Are these costs recoverable?
The answer is maybe but it will take considerable time and effort on the part of the Landlord and provided that all the necessary documentation is available. The only route that a Landlord can seek to recover any of these costs is through the Ontario Small Claims Court which has a financial jurisdiction of $25,000.00. For claims that are over $25,000, the Landlord can sue the tenant in the Superior Court of Justice.
The Small Claims Court is more formal than the Land and Tenant Board but it is designed to allow people to represent themselves without having legal counsel. However, it would be advantageous to a Landlord to retain a lawyer to get the best possible outcome.
One key thing a Landlord needs to consider before pursuing any legal proceedings is whether or not the tenant has the ability to pay. For instance, if the tenant has no job, no assets, no decent prospects then despite a favorable judgment, the Landlord will get nothing in the end. More so, if the tenant declares bankruptcy then the entire claim is wiped out and all the Landlord is left with is a legal bill.
If the Landlord does decide to pursue the matter in court then the following is a list of some documents that will be needed to support the claim:
- Tenant’s rental application
- Tenant’s identification
- Lease agreement
- Rent receipts from inception to the end of tenancy
- A move-in inspection report with attached pictures
- Routine inspection reports during the tenancy with attached pictures
- Move out inspection report with attached pictures
- All notices served to the tenant including eviction order and Sheriff’s Notice
- All documentation from Land and Tenant Board
- At least 3 estimates for all the repairs
- Invoices of the repairs and replacement of appliances and proof of payment
Proper tenant screening and routine inspections can help to ensure that as a Landlord you are not placed in this situation regularly, if at all. And it bears repeating itself, documentation is key! This goes a long way in providing the evidence to pursue the claim.
At ACCL Property Management, we can help to find you the right tenant and take some of this burden off your hands.