Gatineau Landlord Seeks Changes After Tenants Go 5 Months Without Paying Rent
A landlord in Gatineau, Que., is calling for reforms to the province’s cumbersome eviction process, which has allowed his tenants to live rent-free for the past five months.
“Financial losses [are] very difficult,” said Craig Pointon, who took possession of the two-storey house on rue des Braves-du-Coin at the end of November 2021.
He said his two tenants – who lived in the house before he bought it – have not paid rent since December.
“I received an unpleasant response from the tenant by SMS indicating that he refused to provide me [with] any type of payment plan and would not pay any rent,” Pointon said.
Three weeks later, he filed a deportation request with the Housing Administrative Court (TAL), the housing authority in Quebec. Pointon said he informed his tenants directly and informed them by post, email and text – but they did not show up for the February 8 hearing.
CBC reached out to its tenants for comment on Saturday, but has not received a response as of press time.
Revocation of judgment
On February 24, the council issued an eviction order. But the day before the scheduled eviction in March, the tenants filed a revocation of judgment, “essentially forcing a new court date,” Pointon said.
Under Quebec law, tenants who have judgments rendered against them when they are not present can request their cancellation if there is a valid reason.
Pointon said he thought it came down to a misspelling of the tenant’s name on the notice of hearing.
“I guess their dispute is that the wrong person got the letter,” Pointon said. “It was served on them at their address and signed.”
The eviction process was suspended and another hearing was scheduled for April 8. But the tenants did not show up again, Pointon said.
Between the judge’s final decision and getting a bailiff, Pointon said it would take two more weeks to evict his non-paying tenants. Although the initial eviction request was quick, the overall legal process is taking far too long, he said, allowing tenants to buy more time to live rent-free.
“Tenants are still allowed to continue doing the exact same thing and will now have been in the unit for five months or more without paying a penny.”
Future tenants suffer
Martin Messier, president of the Quebec Landlords Association, said Pointon’s case is completely normal and that, in rare circumstances, legal proceedings could take even longer.
“The problem is when you have a tenant who abuses his rights,” Messier said. “So for those cases, maybe it should be even faster than it is right now.”
But it’s not just landlords who are suffering, Messier said: Extended months without payment could impact future tenants, as the landlord may not be able to pay for building repairs and upkeep. .
The TAL declined an interview with CBC, but in a statement said “requests to revoke a decision are being processed at the urgent priority level” and that “the median time for urgent cases is 1.3 month”.
“It should also be understood that, as with all other courts, the enforcement of judgments is not within the purview of the TAL. Its jurisdiction is exhausted once the judgment has been rendered,” the council statement said.
“As a tribunal, the task of the TAL is to adjudicate on the petitions brought before it by applying the rule of law to the facts before it. Any legislative changes are a matter for Parliament.”