Many Alberta landlords are under the false impression that they need to use a 14 day eviction notice to get tenants out of their property and unfortunately they don’t understand how toothless an eviction notice really is under the current legislation.
Unlike other provinces where the notices carry weight, in Alberta eviction notices tend to simply give tenants more time rather than actually get problem tenants out of your property.
Here’s a list of the reasons why you shouldn’t use an eviction notice and I’ll close up with when you should be using an eviction notice.
Reason 1, It Doesn’t Get The Tenant Out
The most important reason a landlord should bypass the process of serving an eviction notice is probably the most important. It’s because the tenant doesn’t have to vacate.
You heard that right, an eviction notice is simply a warning from the landlord that they want a tenant out. It holds no legal value by itself and if the tenant doesn’t vacate by the end of the 14 day notice period the landlord still has to file an application for a hearing.
Which leads me to issue number two.
Reason 2, It Gives Extra Time
Those hearings through the RTDRS are currently so backed up at the time of me writing this it could be another four weeks before an actual hearing takes place and even then the tenant may be given another month to vacate.
The normal time period between filing an application used to be 7-10 days, now it’s ranging from 21-28 days depending on where you are in the province and the 14 day notice period simply gives the tenant extra time in the property.
Which leads to issue three.
Reason 3, You Typically Don’t Get Paid For The Extra Time
During the 16 day period involved with an eviction notice (14 full days plus one on either side ot serve and to vacate) landlords rarely get paid by the tenant.
Of course this is related to non-payment of rent issues, but if the eviction period overlaps the beginning of the month the incentive for the tenant to pay is gone leaving the landlord to use the security deposit to recover lost rent and to pay for cleanup.
Once they’ve vacated it’s on your dime to pay for any additional expenses.
Which leads to issue four
Reason 4, Difficult To Track Tenants Down If They Vacate
So your tenant hasn’t paid rent for a month or two and you give them an eviction notice. To your delight you find them moving out on the eviction date, but they leave a huge mess behind that costs you thousands in cleanup and repair.
Plus you’re out the month or two of rent and now you’re thousands of dollars in the hole on your rental property. Ideally you’d want to go after the tenant to try and get a judgment against them for at least the rent and hopefully the damages, but once the tenant has vacated it becomes very challenging to track them down.
They rarely leave a forwarding address when leaving a mess behind and unless you know where they work it can be a challenge to track them down. The problem being, you need to serve them a hearing application to try and get a judgment against them and it needs to be served in person.
See the problem?
There are some workarounds for this, but they work with varied effectiveness and it’s not unusual for a smart tenant to have it thrown out years later if they understand how the system works and then you have to repeat the process. And you’re still out the money and now more time.
Reason 5, Eviction Notices Don’t Give You Judgments
Judgments are orders from the court for a tenant to pay an amount found to be outstanding. While an eviction notice can be used as evidence (I’ll talk about that momentarily), it doesn’t give you grounds to collect from the tenant.
You need an order through the RTDRS or the court that shows money is owed to you.
As a caveat here a judgment is still no guarantee of payment but it does show up on the tenants credit report for ten years and you have the option to renew it for an additional ten years. This can impact the tenants ability to get a new home loan, a car loan and potentially any loan during the duration.
I actually received payment from a tenant I evicted through the courts almost three years after the eviction when he discovered he couldn’t get a car loan until he paid the judgment off. Other tenants simply never need credit or loans, but you do get the satisfaction it’s haunting them for years…
And The Reason You Should Give Notices
Finally to close up there are a few reasons to provide eviction notices. the most common one and the only real reason is for a first offence that you simply want to create a record of.
Ideally this would be for late payment or non-payment as under the Residential Tenancy Act in Alberta if the notice is for non-payment the 14 day notice is nullified by them paying before the eviction date stated in the notice.
By having an eviction notice or two in your tenants file it opens the door for you to evict them for reasons that can actually stick and not allow them to simply pay before the eviction date.
If it’s for damage or threats to you or other tenants then you need to bypass the notice and file immediately to get the eviction started. delays could lead to actual violence or harm to other tenants or additional damage to your property. You can use 24 hour eviction notices to create additional evidence, but these need to be issued immediately when situations warranting them require.
Bottomline for landlords is that you should treat eviction notices as simply notices or warning and understand they really have minimal effect when it comes to tenants who don’t want to vacate or have no where to go.
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