To avoid dealing with bad tenants, the best option is to avoid the situation in the first place. Too often landlords make the mistake of accepting unsuitable tenants in a moment of desperation. Of course, losing one or two month’s rent isn’t ideal for cash flow, but a bad tenant can prove far more costly, creating serious headaches, causing expensive damage, or, in the worst cases, a ‘professional tenant’ might avoid paying up to 6 month’s worth of rent.
So what is a professional tenant?
Though it sounds like a potentially good renter, it is actually the polar opposite. A professional tenant is a con artist who takes advantage of loopholes in the residential tenancy act to avoid paying rent. They have in-depth knowledge of the eviction process and stave off their eviction by getting involved in legal proceedings, thus, delaying their move and maintaining an (unpaid) roof over their heads for as long as possible.
To avoid ever dealing with a professional tenant, make sure you check off every step of your tenant screening process. They often appear as the perfect candidate, presenting themselves well and turning on the charm, in hopes that the landlord will let their guard down and skip on doing their due diligence. Do background checks and call multiple references. Many professional tenants go so far as to apply using a false identity providing someone else’s name and address on the lease application (which is the minimum requirement to do a credit history check). Unfortunately, this makes it almost impossible for a landlord to take the tenant to small claims court even when an eviction is successful. With fake information, court orders and charges will never land on the real con artist. As a landlord, you are within your rights to ask for photo identification, so be sure to ask for government issued picture ID.
At Liv, we’ve baked this highly important verification process into the Liv Rent app, as part of our Liv Score. A tenant, prior to applying to a property, is required to upload a government issued picture ID, which is then cross-referenced to their credit report and LinkedIn profile, corroborating information and verifying the tenant.
When can you evict tenants?
Professional tenants aren’t the only kind of bad tenants out there. Other garden variety types may live in squalor, throw too many parties, wreak damage on your property or disturb your neighbors. Regardless, you do not want any of these types as your tenant.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to deal with a bad tenant here are the steps you will need to follow to have them evicted. And, remember, vigilante evictions are illegal so don’t change locks, turn off utilities, or bar access to the property by other means or you risk going to jail.
You can evict tenants on a few grounds:
Missed Rent Payment (10-day notice)
Regardless of whether they are short the full amount or $1, you can issue a 10-day Eviction Notice. If tenant doesn’t challenge within 5 days of receiving notice, they will be expected to move out by the 10th day.
This is the quickest way to evict a tenant. In some cases, it can be done in as little as ten days. Unlike other methods, the landlord does not require a participatory hearing if an appropriate non-payment of rent application is filed. So if you complete the paperwork correctly, the bad tenant could be gone in as little as 14 days.
Missed Utility Payment (10-day notice)
If tenant fails to pay for utilities, you need to issue written notice demanding payment within 30 days. If they fail to comply, then a 10-day eviction notice can be issued.
Other Causes (30-day notice)
This is the most commonly issued notice when a tenant has unreasonably disturbed landlord or other occupants, repeatedly made late payments (at least 3 times), caused serious damage to unit or building, conducted illegal activities on premises, housed too many occupants etc. A complete list of reasons for evictions can be found in Section 47 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA).
Evicting the Tenant
To actually evict the tenant and their belongings, you will need to follow the strict rules below:
- Serve the tenant with a copy of a Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) Order of Possession.
- Take the Order of Possession to the BC Supreme Court and obtain a Writ of Possession.
- Use the Writ of Possession to hire a court-approved bailiff.
- Overholding: If tenant stays past the move-out date listed on an eviction notice or Order of Possession, you will be owed additional rent money. If you hire a court-approved bailiff to remove tenant and their belongings from the rental unit, tenant can be held responsible for at least some of the associated costs.
- Role of the police: The police do not have the authority to evict tenants on their own. However, a court-approved bailiff may ask them to attend an eviction to keep the peace while a tenant is being removed.
This reiterates that tenant screening is THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR to consider when renting out a property. Do yourself a favour and spend the extra time conducting thorough background checks and keep a paper trail of communications (easily managed and maintained through the liv.rent app). This information will be key to evoking a successful eviction should you be faced with this horrible circumstance.
Check out our post on How to Pick the Right Tenant.