How to evict a tenant for bad behavior
I am proud to admit that this problem does not come up to often. I will also have to admit, that this problem has come up. We can screen tenants as well as we want, however, we cannot control who the tenants bring to our properties. I also get this question a lot, so I know it is a concern for many people. I will start with what is bad behaviour or (good behaviour) Here is the Nova Scotia definition:
Good Behaviour – A landlord or tenant shall conduct himself in such a manner as not to interfere with the possession or occupancy of the tenant or of the landlord and other tenants, respectively.
As you can see this definition is open to interpretation. If you have a tenant that is exhibiting unacceptable or disruptive behaviour, you will need to contact the residential tenancy office. A residential tenancy officer will determine if the behaviour is not good.
The length of time that the tenant will have to move out will be decided on a case by case basis.
There is one level above the “good behaviour” claus. That is eviction based on safety and security. If you have a tenant that poses a risk to the safety or security of you (the landlord) or other tenants you can serve a five day eviction. If the tenant refuses to leave you will need to file notice with residential tenancies and wait for a hearing.
In Nova Scotia a tenant cannot be evicted for doing something illegal, as long as it does not pose a risk to safety or is disruptive to the other tenants.
You can still contact the police (they may take care of the problem for you).
We have had to use the lack of good behaviour section twice, and serve a 5 day eviction notice. In both cases the tenants left. One right on day number five, the other one we made a deal and gave them a couple of weeks.
The first one was during the days leading up to my favorite eviction (make sure to check out the post). We had complaints from most of the tenants in the building. We had some bad tenants, they would party every night. One night it got really bad. I even had a call from some of the area neighbours, about the noise, drinking, drug use, etc.
The final straw was a night of partying, fighting, and threats against some of the other tenants. I had my property manager at the time deliver a five day eviction. I based it on threatening behaviour to the other tenants in the building.
They left on the final day, and as you will see from my post about this eviction, they tore the apartment apart before they left. They did damage including poking a sword through the ceiling, ripping the bathroom sink off the wall and punching holes in a bunch of the walls. It was not the best outcome, however, I was glad they were gone.
The second time it was a problem with a couple. This couple seemed normal when they applied and signed a lease. They both worked and did not have a problem meeting rent obligations.
The particular building they moved into had a mix of children and older people. It would be described as a quiet family building.
It was not long after this couple moved in, that the complaints against them started. It started off with minor problems, like smoking inside and some loud music. They committed to turning down the music and smoking outside only. The next complaints involved these tenant drinking heavily outside in the yard.
They had not lived in the building long that we realized we had problem tenants. We addressed the concerns, and in the light of day they were very convincing. Then one Saturday all heck broke loose. I am not sure, and will likely never know the full truth, but to sum it up, it involved, loud music, drinking, fighting (possible physical), and a call to 911. The police arrived to break it all up. I have a property manager that looks after this particular building. He interviewed the tenants. The clear message was either these tenants go or they go. The tenant with the children felt unsafe for her family.
I had a meeting with my property manager and we agreed that based on the other tenants not feeling safe, serving a five day notice to quit (based on safety and security) was the right thing to do.
The tenants disagreed with the five day notice. We then filed a notice to the director of residential tenancy. We had a hearing date set, but due to the over loaded system we have in Nova Scotia, the hearing was scheduled for one month in advance.
Fortunately the tenants paid the rent and acted perfectly, hoping we would back down. We did not and one week before the hearing they moved out.
We and the other tenants were happy to have them gone.
One thing I have learned as a property manager, is there is a basic process for everything. Sometimes it takes patience, but if you stay calm and believe in the system, things will work out.
Michael P Currie