Landlord Lament…

What’s that?

The squeaky wheel gets the grease?

I’ve always thought so.  In fact, when you can’t get something done by using traditional, conservative means, perhaps you need to speak up for yourself.  Maybe you even need to make threats.

It’s tough to be a landlord in Toronto these days.  Maybe that’s why landlords make leasing so difficult…


I have no clue why anybody would want to be a landlord.  Well actually, I guess money is a pretty good reason, but most people shy away from anything to do with property management just because of all the potential headaches involved.

The Residential Tenancies Act was introduced in Ontario on January 1st, 2007, and along with it came a whole slew of new laws that protect the interests of the tenants.  While we can all agree that tenants do need protection, we can also assume that there are a lot of people out there who take advantage of the rules.

Imagine this scenario: you lease your property to a tenant, who gives you first and last month’s rent.  He moves in, and all goes well for the first month.  But in the second month, his cheque has bounced.  You ask him to pay you, and he agrees, but he never follows through with his promise.  A month later, his next check bounces, and he is now behind two months (actually one if you subtract the last month’s rent as deposit), and you begin to contemplate your options.

If you go to the following link:, you can tell with one glance at the page that getting rid of a tenant could be a nightmare.

Forms, applications, amendments…RED TAPE!

Simply put, you cannot just go to your property one day and change the locks.  It doesn’t work like it does on TV or in the movies, when the sad protagonist arrives to find a yellow eviction notice nailed to the door and chains on the locks, then goes and sits at a lonely diner as the rain starts to come down.

To get rid of a tenant, you have to go through the proper legal course of action.  And if the tenant takes you to the Rental Tribunal, you could be tied up for eight months going through mediation, arbitration, and eventually court just to get a person out of YOUR house!

It almost seems unfair…

Back in February, I wrote a three-part blog series entitled “Worst Agent Ever.” (click here)

Since my clients in that story took possession, they have had three months of enjoyable living, and have come to love life in Toronto.  But three weeks ago, their washer/dryer broke, and they learned just how difficult landlords in Toronto can be.

As per my story from February, the landlord was a Realtor working in Toronto, and was one of the worst agents I had ever met.  He was incompetent, pathetic, and never answered his phone.

Three weeks ago, my clients who live at 18 Yonge Street, Jordan & Skyler, realized that the washer/dryer had ceased to work.  They needed a new one, and it was up to their Landlord, Paul.  This is his real name, by the way, and as much as I wish I could publish his photo, I think I’ll just leave it at his name…

Jordan & Skyler called Paul, and to nobody’s surprise, he didnt’ answer his phone.  So they left a polite message asking for a return call.

He never called back.

A few days later, they tried again, and this time they left a message stating that their washer/dryer was broken, and that they would like to know if he had anybody that could fix or replace the machine.

He never called back.

Two weeks, and SIX phone calls later, they called me and asked for help.

This is where my “squeaky wheel” theory comes into play, and to be perfectly honest with you, I think that there is only one real way to get things done and that is to play hardball.

I told Skyler that she had to call Paul back and leave the following message:

Hi Paul, it’s Skyler calling from 18 Yonge Street.  We have left you six messages in the last fourteen days regarding our broken washer/dryer; YOUR broken washer/dryer, and you have yet to return our call.  As per our lease arrangement, you are responsible to replace and repair any of the appliances in our unit.  I’d like you to know that we have gone to TD Bank and we have stopped-payment on the June 1st and July 1st rent cheques.  Please contact us as soon as possible to get the washer/dryer fixed, and we will get you two replacement rent cheques.”

How do you think this went over?

Would you have done the same thing?

Would you have done something different?

Am I “rude,” or “out-of-line” for doing this?

Well, after not returning SIX messages over a two week span, Paul called Skyler back only twenty minutes after she left this message!

The squeaky wheel does get the grease!

He told Skyler that he wasn’t happy about her “threats” and that it was inappropriate.  Skyler is a very cute, quiet, and sweet girl, who I never thought would have had the gall to leave that message, but she fought back with Paul over the phone better than I ever imagined and told him that he was a terrible landlord, completely incompetent, and that if the only way to get a return phone call was to stop payment on the rent cheques, then now they know the process!

I was so proud of her.

Paul said that he would have somebody come to the condo the next day to repair the washer/dryer, and Jordan & Skyler breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Yeah, I know…..there are different ways people could have dealt with this situation.  A friend of mine remarked that this was “so unnecessary” when I told him the story.  But you know what?  I’m sorry to say, he’s a great guy, but he’s the kind of guy that would take his clothes to a laundromat for two months before finally calling the landlord to raise his voice a couple decibels.

I don’t know what is worse: being a landlord, or being a tenant.

I am currently neither, but I have both as clients.

When a situation arises, I don’t follow “procedure,” no matter what the “procedure” might be.

My clients rely on me to get things done and produce results, and in this case, my clients followed my advice to a “T” and got a solution to their problem.

When life gives you lemons, do you make lemonade and gulp down the sour beverage when you really want cranberry?  Or do you whip the lemons back at the person who gave them to you and go to the 7-11?


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  2. Laura says:

    Thats great advice to tenants with a bad landlord but whats your advice to a good landlord with tenants that take advantage? I have several of those and would love some not “by the book” advice about how to get rid of a bad tenant, fast. I love being a landlord for many reasons and would hate to have to give it up because of an unfair system that favours irresponsible tenants.