Member support question: Collecting non-rental fees
I’m having difficulty collecting key charges and damages from tenants. What is the best way to collect these outstanding amounts? Can I apply the money paid for rent to these charges? Is there any other way to collect those charges?
As with all arrears, the best approach is a collaborative one. If the tenant is willing to meet with you and sign a payment plan for the charges then you can avoid a lot of hassle. Even if you end up having to file at the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB), you might get a better outcome going through mediation than a hearing. This is an especially good approach considering that the LTB is not consistent in how they handle questions relating to other charges.
The following are some common charges that you can work with the LTB to help resolve:
For rent arrears you can file an N4. When the termination date has passed, and you file the L1, you can include charges for costs related to cheques returned NSF on this form, including a $20 administrative cost and any fee your bank charged. Make sure you have documentation from your bank of any fees they have charged you before you go to a hearing. If the tenant pays off the rental arrears before you issue the L1, you will not be able to file for the NSF charges alone.
Damages and repairs
An N5 form can be used to begin an eviction process for a tenant who has damaged their unit and it can also be used to collect the costs of repair or damages. If you do not wish to evict the tenant, at a hearing or mediation you can specify that you are seeking only the repayment of the costs. At the LTB, make sure you have documentation for all of your charges. This can include: receipts, invoices, estimates or good notes of your time or your staff’s time. Photos, inspection reports, and any other documentation would also help.
Key replacement charges
These are some of the hardest charges to collect. The LTB has only very rarely awarded the costs of key replacement with an N5 so it’s probably not worth the filing fee to pursue it at the LTB. However, if you’re already filing for damages it doesn’t cost any more to add it to the application.
Utilities covered by tenants
It’s best to avoid paying any fees for which the tenant has contracted. If you find yourself paying a tenant’s utilities that they are obligated to pay under the lease, you may have some luck filing an N5 for an interference with the lawful right, privilege, or interest of the landlord.
It’s very hard to get any of these fees by filing at the LTB so you should be selective about which ones are worth your time and the filing fee. If the fees are substantial you can consider taking the tenant to small claims court but your time and costs are going to be considerable. Many housing providers require that tenants be “in good standing” in order to apply for internal transfers or other optional upgrades. You may want to institute such rules to encourage that tenants pay outstanding amounts.