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If all the keys were returned, the tenant’s belongings are removed, and there are communications (i.e., text messages, e-mails, letters) showing the tenant’s intention to move out, then this is enough to trigger your right to clean the unit and show it to prospective tenants.

If the tenant were to pay all of the rent they owe, plus the costs of filing, and possibly even the Sheriff’s fees, then the tenant would void the eviction notice, and could stay in the unit. In that case, a landlord cannot assume that the tenant is definitely leaving.

If the payment is not made, then the landlord must apply to the sheriff for enforcement of the order unless the tenant has clearly moved out.

If you are 100% sure that the tenant has moved out, then you do not have to file with the Sheriff’s office. The problem for most landlords is that they cannot know for certain that the tenant is gone, so you should “err on the side of caution” when coming to the conclusion about whether or not the tenant still resides in the unit. It just helps to avoid being fined by the Board, or being taken to the Board by the tenant for illegal entry, if they were still living there.

If your tenants have definitely moved out of the rental unit without paying the rent they owe, the landlord’s recourse is to file a claim in Small Claims Court. However, this is only possible if you have the current residential address of the tenant in order to serve the claim. The forms for the Small Claims Court as well as additional information on the Small Claims Court process may be obtained from their website: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/scc

As you may know, the tenant being in jail does not mean the tenancy has ended. It is also unclear from your email whether or not the renter has to share a kitchen or bathroom with the owner (presumably you are the owner). If they do not, then you are likely dealing with a situation that would be considered abandonment – particularly if the rent was not paid. I’ve attached the link below from our website to material that addresses the issue of abandoned belongings, please review to determine which situation would apply in your case https://landlordselfhelp.com/media/Tenant-Belongings.pdf

The rules on abandoned belongings vary depending on the circumstances the tenant vacated the premises. I’ve attached the links below from our website that address the issue of abandoned belongings, please review it to determine which situation would apply in your case.

https://landlordselfhelp.com/media/Tenant-Belongings.pdf  and http://www.landlordselfhelp.com/podcast/1023/

If you received an order of termination after a hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board, and the tenant moved out as a result, then pursuant to S. 41 (1) of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 you may keep, sell or dispose of any remaining belongings left behind by the tenant – either in the unit or anywhere on the residential complex such as the shed.

If you consider it worthwhile to take your former tenant to Small Claims Court—meaning if they are employed and you will be able to garnish wages using the court order if necessary—then your Plaintiff’s Claim can include things like repair or replacement costs, and excessive clean up or removal costs related to the tenancy. Small Claims Court generally takes about 4 months to go through. Effectiveness depends on too many variables to accurately forecast (your evidence, witnesses, receipts, may or may not be enough to get a good result). It is normal to get several estimates from qualified repair or clean-up companies, and then make written requests that the tenant pay a reasonable amount to cover these costs, before involving the Small Claims Court. There is no way to force a tenant to return keys to you, so it is prudent to change the locks between tenants regardless.


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