Posted on August 30, 2019
As part of a new series, the Star is answering common questions from tenants. Do you have questions about renting in Toronto that you want us to answer? Email the Star at renterFAQ@thestar.ca.
There’s a lot to consider when your landlord tells you they’re selling the property you’re currently staying in.
You might be wondering if you can afford to move, and how you will find time to hunt for a new place.
But mainly: can your landlord ask you to leave?
Harry Fine, a paralegal and former adjudicator on the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), says there are things the landlord can and can’t do when it comes to selling a tenanted property.
For example, the landlord isn’t required to inform the tenant that they’re planning to sell.
“A landlord is allowed to sell a property anytime, unconditionally,” Fine says. “A landlord doesn’t have to tell the tenant, but obviously the tenant would know, because unless it’s a private deal, there would be a sign on the lawn and there will be people coming through for inspections.”
But the sale of a property does not necessarily end the tenancy, he said. Unless the buyer or their immediate family member plans to move in, they are required to let the tenant stay as long as they want.
Dania Majid, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants, says the landlord would have to file a Form N12 if the purchaser or their family member wants to move in.
Under that form, in order to end the tenancy, the landlord would need to check “reason 2, ” which declares that the landlord has entered an agreement of purchase and sale of the rental property and the purchaser or an immediate family member (parent or child) or a caregiver intends to move into the unit.
However, unlike “reason 1” — which states the eviction is for the landlord’s personal use — purchasers are not required to live in the property for a minimum of one year and tenants aren’t entitled to compensation. They are still required to give 60 days notice.
Majid said if a tenant thinks the purchaser or designated family member isn’t actually going to move in then a tenant doesn’t have to move out by the dates specified in the N12.
Instead, they can wait for the LTB hearing, which the purchaser and the landlord would have to apply for.
The landlord can then agree with the tenant to a settlement with a board mediator and try to come up with favourable terms of compensation for moving. Or, the case can proceed to a hearing, where the tenant would need to explain why they think the notice was not served in good faith.
An example of bad faith would be if the purchaser did not move in like they said they would. If confirmed as a bad-faith eviction, the landlord’s application is dismissed at the LTB and there is no eviction.
Fine said bad-faith evictions are all-too-common after a sale, as the buyer “just wants the tenant out so that instead of getting $1,700 in rent, they can later upsell it for $2,300.”
If the notice is deemed valid or if the tenant did move out after receiving the notice and they find out the purchaser didn’t actually move in, a tenant can file a T5 application to the LTB to try to get compensation for being evicted, Majid said. They can also request the landlord and purchaser be fined.
According to Majid, tenants have 12 months from the date they moved out of the unit to bring forward an application the LTB.
Alejandra Ruiz Dargas, the chair of ACORN East York, recommends contacting a local legal aid clinic to seek help if you intend on taking the landlord to the LTB.
She also suggests considering group advocacy efforts in cases where multiple units are affected.
“Try to speak with everybody in the building, because they’re probably in the same situation,” she says. “Organize as a group. If you bring more tenants together, doing things like filing a complaint (at the Landlord and Tenants Board) is more powerful.”
Source: Toronto Star