'Ludicrous' eviction process for delinquent tenants takes far too long, property company says
Some tenants 'know how to work the system,' says manager of company battling tenant in court
A senior employee of a property management company in St. John's says it's "ludicrous" the length and tangled process that landlords currently have to go through to evict a tenant who is not paying rent.
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"I understand there are rules there in place to protect both sides ... but we're just coming up with case after case after case that really is leaning towards being in the tenant's favour," says Lindsey Kelly, who is general manager of Krown Property Management.
"There are instances I feel that yes, [tenants] know how to work the system."
Kelly said her company is currently embroiled in a legal battle that will soon be before the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court.
She said a tenant has not paid rent in four months and was issued her first eviction notice on March 17. But an eviction notice isn't as urgent as it might sound, warned Kelly.
That notice requires the tenant to pay up or move out — and if they still aren't complying, then the landlord can request a hearing from Residential Tenancies, which is part of Service NL. Then there's another wait of about two weeks for that hearing, according to Kelly.
"In this particular case, [the hearing] went in our favour. She showed up to the hearing and said, 'No, I haven't paid,'" Kelly told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.
But the other side — in this case, the tenant — has 18 days to file a "reconsideration," which is essentially another appeal.
Kelly said "the best case scenario" to get a delinquent tenant out is two to three months.
Stall some more
Kelly said the process can drag out even longer, as in this particular case, because tenants can appeal the outcome of the hearing.
"In that timeframe, [this tenant] filed an appeal with the [Newfoundland and Labrador] Supreme Court ... so now, we are at that point where we are still waiting to get a date on whenever that will be heard," she said.
"So, [the tenant] took it to a whole other level."
Kelly said she supports having some checks and balances in place "just so both sides have some protection," but too many aren't good either.
"I don't know why there's two different appeal processes. If you've gone to a hearing ... you've been rejected. This isn't a murder trial, it's you haven't paid rent. I think one of those two appeal processes should be eliminated," Kelly said, adding she's only known cases of disputes between landlords and tenants going to the Supreme Court twice.
"There are certainly people who know that you're not coming after them, that they can certainly buy themselves one or two months [of free rent]."
Kelly said the momentum is building to try to cut through the red tape that landlords face when it comes to dealing with delinquent tenants.
"People are trying ... to push to get [the government] to review it again," she said.
With files from St. John's Morning Show