Not too long ago I was happy to tell you that at 36 years old I’m buying my first home. It’s a big milestone in my life and I’m looking forward to leaving the city and moving to the suburbs. Within a little bit less time than that, I shared my nightmare story of how disruptive it is living across the hall from and apartment being continuously rented on Air BnB. Since then there has been a new development in my living situation…I’m getting evicted.
Last week we received a letter from our landlord offering compensation for previous water damage ONLY if we vacate the premises by April 30. If we do not leave the apartment by that date no compensation will be offered.
There are two problems with this: 1. I can’t leave the apartment in the next 30 days because our new house won’t be ready and 2. I confirmed with the rental board that a compensation offer can’t alter the lease. So now what? Now we need to fight to stay in our apartment until the lease ends on September 30th – which technically is our right.
What to do if you’re getting evicted:
Notify your landlord of the situation
When I consulted with a lawyer the first thing he advised us to do is communicate with the landlord. It’s important to do this in order to understand the situation and the asks as well as start the negotiation process and hopefully find a solution that best suits both parties.
It’s best to do this via a registered letter because email communications and text messages may not be admissible evidence in a court of law – if it gets escalated to that point. Check with a local expert to find the best form of communication.
File an official claim at the rental board
If the landlord does not respond to your communication or if an agreement is not reached, the next step is to file an official complaint with the rental board. Before doing so it’s important to have all information on hands such as dates of events and previous communications as well as your desired outcome (i.e. the reason for the complaint) and the amount of any damages.
This includes the total amount of compensation, including court costs. Your landlord will receive a copy of this, therefore it’s important to be very clear in all of the details.
Open the door for negotiation
This wasn’t an official piece of advice from the lawyer, but I gave my landlord one last chance to negotiate before going to plead our case in front of a judge. Filing a case in court shows the landlord that you’re serious and they may be more willing to negotiate then they were upon first notice via registered letter.
Plead your case in court
If an agreement can’t be reached the last step is to plead your case in court. Tenants can represent themselves or they can hire a professional to help present the case. By the time you go to court, it’s important to have all the facts including previous court case rulings, specific legislation clauses (i.e. violations of the lease laws), and all references from previous communications with the landlord.
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