Below, we break down the eviction process from an inherited tenant / squatter to help better educate Landlords/Homeowners on the process and some main points that can significantly delay the process. This is from July 2019 so some timelines with the RTB have changed (add 50% for reference), but the rest should be relevant.

A building we took over in downtown Vancouver had management issues and we were assigned to step in and clean it up. Among other things, the main issue was a "tenant" (we'll call him Bill) with no paperwork, no name, no payment record, a keypad on their door for access, and a pile of police reports submitted to us from other tenants due to violence, vandalism, and other disturbances. The owners of the building wanted to make sure we understood what we were getting into, and we walked them through the steps and then walked the steps ourselves:

1) CONTACT - We took the building over within 5 days of the end of March with very little information aside from a box of 75% of the leases and a set of keys. The known problem, Bill, had a camera mounted on the outside of his door, a keypad for access, a huge door mat covered in stains, and an extension cable running from his unit into the hallway common plugs. As we did not have any files for communication or agreements from previous management, we had to step cautiously but these behaviours could not be tolerated. We send a warm note to the unit immediately by registered mail. These are the meat & potatoes of the letter:

"It has come to our attention that there is unauthorized surveillance and/or recording equipment in the common area of the building which is connected to your unit. If you have prior written approval from the Landlord allowing you to have this equipment, please provide this document so we can keep it on file.

If you have not been given written authorization, please have the equipment removed from the common area by Friday, April 12, 2019, or it will be removed by the Landlord and the costs will be charged back to you.

It has also come to our attention that this unit is being occupied via an unauthorized sublet. As the Landlord has no record of your tenancy on file and no payment history and we expect that your occupation of this unit is authorized, please help us validate your tenancy by providing us a copy of the documents using the methods provided below by Friday, April 12, 2019"

We issued a letter assuming that the previous management provided authorization for this behaviour as we could not prove otherwise. If we had gone ahead and removed the camera, the floor mat, and changed the locks so we had access, a Residential Tenancy Branch (the "RTB") dispute would look poorly on us. We did not have much information to start off with and we could have read the situation incorrectly from the start. We also knew from experience that if we had no response from this tenant by "April 12", we could begin the process of eviction as we had made contact via registered mail which is considered legally received by the Residential Tenancy Act (the "RTB") whether the tenant received it in reality or not.

2) STRATEGY - Before April 12, we were connected to the police officers following Bill with the assistance of Bill's neighbour. We met with them at the building one day, and they confirmed that Bill is in prison and that they could provide file numbers, etc. if the tenants would allow them to submit them (due to strict privacy legislation) to assist with an eviction. With this information, we knew that if Bill was in prison, Bill would not be paying the rent for the month of April. Since the transition of new management was quite abrupt and notices were delivered by hand for expediency, we waited for Bill's response by April 12. Once no response was received, we knew Bill would not be paying his rent, and we could move forward with a 10 day notice for non-payment of rent, rather than a drawn out and postponed hearing for disturbance, vandalism, etc. Once a 10 day notice is served properly (registered mail is strongly suggested) and rent is not paid at all, you can file a "direct request" through the RTB for an expedited hearing and issuing of an "Order of Possession". The issue with Bill and previous management was that this was not possible due to the lack of a lease on file for Bill. We literally had a conversation at the RTB about forging a lease because we were confident that no one would respond (due to the police meeting) and the RTB representative said "that's not a bad idea" after hearing the rest of the story. That being too big of a risk to take, we move forward with a regular scheduled hearing.

3) TIMELINES - From the issuing of the 10 day notice (April 15), to filing the RTB claim (May 3) and having the hearing (June 13), to obtaining the order of possession (June 17), obtaining the writ of possession (July 2) with the court bailiff on site (July 9) it took us exactly 100 days to evict this tenant simply for non-payment of rent from April 1. This timeline is extremely long due to a series of issues which could have easily been avoided with some basic management prior to our takeover.

4) DILIGENCE - If we had a lease on file, contact information, any way to contact the tenant faster than sending a letter and leaving the same on their door, we could have acted faster with the 10 day notice as we could have assumed the tenant was not paying rent and had no intention to. In most cases, 10 day notices are issued in the first 5 days of the month once the bank responds with any insufficient funds (NSF) notifications. In this case, even earlier (the 2nd) as the tenant had not supplied banking information or any other form of payment. If rent goes unpaid and a 10 day notice has been mailed on the 5th, it is considered legally delivered and expired by the 22nd of the same month. Again, if we had a lease on file, we could have filed for a "direct request" in which a decision can be turned around within days rather than waiting 6 weeks for a hearing and then days (4) for the written decision and order of possession. Not having a lease on file added at least 52 days to this process which added another 7 as Sundays do not count towards service requirements, and 2 more as neither do stat holidays. 61 day delay due to not having a lease...

5) PROCESS GOING FORWARD - Now that we have possession of the unit, it will be rented to a fully vetted tenant who has proven their ability to pay the rent, show up on time, communicate effectively, and maintain a tenant's insurance policy. There will be a lease on hand and banking information supplied to allow us to withdraw rent fund directly from their account. With a direct request available to us, if this next tenant decides to not pay the rent and we move forward with eviction, worst case scenario we are looking at 39 days before we have possession of the unit again.

6) RESULTS & FINANCIAL COMPARISON - Just for fun, the difference between 100 days and 39 days is financially huge:

39 days to evict:

  • $2,045.90 in missed rent ($52/day or $1,600/month)
  • With a lease and credit information of the tenant, you can attempt to collect on this amount and any damages via the RTB and small claims court. Also, in our experience, a properly vetted tenant does not pay the rent because they are unable to and they work with you on a smooth transition with little to no damage, turnover expenses, etc. When you bring an order or writ of possession to someone and explain to them that they will be removed from their home in X days against their will or they can clean up and leave on their own accord, 9 times out of 10, they do the latter saving you more money and headache for both parties.
  • Damages: $200 mailing and filling fees

Total: $2,245.90

100 days to evict:

  • $5,245.90 in missed rent ($52/day or $1,600/month)
  • Damages: $2,000 for bailiff, $3,500 for turnover expenses, $200 mailing and filling fees
  • Without a lease and credit information of the tenant, you cannot attempt to collect on this amount or any damages as you do not know who you are going after...

Total: $10,945.90

Many people voice their opinions of the RTB and how it favours tenants. As professional rental managers, we see both sides. A bad Landlord is not diligent, and is therefore punished by the "favourable system" because they cannot file some basic paperwork. These people are tasked with supplying housing to our working public and they should be held to the high standards that the RTB requires in everyday cases. For issues like non-payment of rent, I agree with the process. It is fair and balanced, you just have to run your building or rental property like a business, not an entitlement. It's easier than it sounds and important for everyone.


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