Can I take a tenant to small claims court to recover damages?
Yes. Small claims court is the common term used for Provincial Court Civil Division. Most of the remedies provided for in the Residential Tenancies Act allow for action to be taken in Provincial Court or the Court of Queen's Bench.
The majority of legal actions concerning residential tenancies will probably go to Provincial Court, which can deal with cases up to a value of $25,000 and where procedure is less formal.
The only cases which have to go to the Court of Queen's Bench are where the damages are over $25,000 or where a landlord or tenant is claiming the remedy of specific performance of a term of a lease agreement.
I discovered that one of my tenants has another person living in the apartment. Can I evict the other person? Can I evict the tenant?
You can evict the other person if he is living there without your permission. You can serve that person with a written notice stating that he must leave within 14 days. The notice must state the date and time he must leave. If he does not leave by this time, you can apply to court for an order requiring him to leave.
You can only evict your tenant for reasons permitted by law. One of these reasons is if there has been a substantial breach of the tenancy agreement. Having an unauthorized guest stay in the premises may or may not qualify as a substantial breach, depending upon the individual circumstances and the terms of your tenancy agreement.
My tenant has not paid the rent this month. Can I change the locks?
You cannot change the locks without giving notice to the tenant. Doing so is an offence under the Residential Tenancies Act for which you can be fined. Changing the locks might also be viewed as an eviction of the tenant without going through the proper procedures.
If your tenant has not paid rent this month, you can apply to court to either end the tenancy or to recover the unpaid rent. Alternatively, you can serve him with a notice to pay within 14 days or the tenancy is ended. If you serve the 14-day notice on the tenant, the notice must state that if the rent is paid within the 14-day period, the notice will have no effect.
I served a 14-day termination notice on my tenants. The 14 days is past and they have not vacated the premises. What is my next step?
You can apply to court for an order for possession of the property if the tenants or others living in the property have not left after being served with notice, or after a tenancy has ended. The notice to end the tenancy must have been valid in order for an application for possession to be successful.
For procedure, see the Laws for Landlords in Alberta website.
If I evict someone, do they have to be out by noon or midnight?
When a tenancy is ended by any means (including eviction and expiration), it ends at noon on the last day of the tenancy.
One exception is when the tenancy is ended by service of a notice to leave within 24 hours because damage has been caused to the property or there has been a physical assault or threats to assault the landlord or another tenant. In this situation, the tenancy will end when the 24 hours expires.
I have a tenant who is in arrears of rent for the last two months. I would rather not terminate the lease. Is there anything else I can do to recover my losses and to show the tenant that I am serious about payment of rent?
Yes. You can take legal action to recover rent that has not been paid, or you can instruct a civil enforcement agency to proceed against the tenant for distress for rent where goods belonging to the tenant can be seized. Either of these proceedings is going to cost you money, so you will need to weigh that cost against the cost of terminating the tenancy for non-payment of rent and obtaining new tenants.
One of my tenants was supposed to move out of a house a month ago when a fixed-term tenancy ended. I had a new tenancy arranged for the next month. The tenant did not move out of the house as we agreed, and I lost the next tenant. Can I take legal action against the tenant who would not move out?
Yes. If the tenant has still not moved out, you will need to seek an order from court for possession of the premises. You can also seek damages from the overholding tenant. This can include a general sum for the failure of the tenant to leave and a sum for specific items you have lost.
Specific items would include the degree of liability you face for not being able to provide the new tenant with the house. So, if the new tenant was taking legal action against you for not providing her with the premises, you can pass that cost over to the overholding tenant. You will have to establish those damages by showing that the overholding tenant would have known that you would face this liability from the new tenant. You could establish this, for example, by showing correspondence with the overholding tenant informing him that you had rented the premises again.
If the overholding tenant has moved out, you can still claim damages from him. If the amount you are claiming is within the monetary limits for Provincial Court (currently $25,000), you can make the claim there.
This page was last updated in April, 2006.