When a Tenant Withholds Rent

Property Management Toronto - Tenant Withholds Rent

We’ve come across this issue several times in the last few years. Tenants will withhold payment of rent due to some issue that they believe is allegedly causing them difficulty to live in the property.

Let’s get one thing straight here:

Tenants are not permitted to withhold their rent. While there are very few limitations to this rule, generally speaking, if a tenant is not happy and they are withholding the rent, they are breaking the law.

What to do:
If your tenant has not made a payment based on their belief that you are not fulfilling your obligations of being a landlord, serve them immediately with an N4 Notice to Terminate.

Once that Notice has been filed, and the duration of time has passed in accordance with how it was served on the tenant, you must complete an application to the Board, which will get you a Hearing Date.

The Landlord and Tenant Board will directly mail the Notice of Hearing to your tenant. All you need to do is to show up. You are free to bring a paralegal, however as a private landlord, you are not obligated to do so. You are permitted to represent yourself (but remember – do your homework and come prepared).

Once at the hearing, you will start off by presenting your case to the adjudicator. The tenant will also have a chance to respond and will likely bring up any maintenance issues that may exist. These may have or may not have been brought to your attention. It will be the tenant’s responsibility to prove that s/he made you aware of such issues and that you neglected them for a considerable amount of time.

What tenants often forget is that Landlords require time to put together estimates, do their due diligence and to make a decision. Obviously if it an urgent request (like a fridge breaking down or no heat), then you should have made the attempt to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

As such, the burden of proof of these matters relies on the tenants. They will need to provide written documentation that they in fact submitted the request, that they made follow up attempts and that you completely neglected to address the issue.

You will be permitted to cross examine the tenant if you find any inconsistencies that contradicts your evidence.
Once both parties have had a chance to cross examine the other, the adjudicator will then make a decision and will produce an order.

Typically these orders will require the tenant to make the payment of arrears within a certain period of time and may occasionally factor in a discount for the inconvenience the tenant has endured for the delay.

In most cases though, if you are an honest person trying to do your due diligence and find the proper solution to a maintenance issue, then often the courts will not penalize you. Unless it is an emergency, you are by no means in any way required to immediately respond to a tenant’s request.

The adjudicator will draft the order and both parties will be required to comply with it.

You can read up on old cases that have been held at the Landlord and Tenant Board. Those documents can be found here. They are simple to read, easy to understand and you will find a similar case so that you can understand what was awarded and why.

Having a property management company work on your behalf can reduce a lot of headaches:

Tenant Interaction

These situations are always emotional for all parties involved. Tempers can flare, people principles may feel violated and it can extend for a long duration of time, which may work against you. Having a property management company represent you through the entire process can alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress that you’ve been encountering.


We know what we are doing, we know what results we want, and we know how to get to a very fair and favourable solution. As such, we are not experiencing this for the first time, we have our internal policies that dictate how things should proceed. As a new or inexperienced landlord, you may need to do research, consult with lawyers and paralegals and spend a lot of time. As an established property management company in Toronto for over the last 10 years, we have this experience and have seen a lot of cases and, so we have the solutions.


A bad tenant will stress you out, consume your time, and demotivate you from ever wanting to own another rental property again. However, for a small monthly fee, you can have a professional, Toronto based property management company represent you and take all this weight off your shoulders. Why would you want to experience a long-lasting argument with someone who lives in your house? When you get sick, you go to the doctor, when you want to invest you go to your financial planner, when you want tasty food you go to an excellent restaurant. When you need a great tenant and a professional property management, you call us.