COLUMN: Cash for Keys

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Mary’s landlord visited her and gave her a letter stating that he would offer her money if she voluntarily vacated the rental unit. This is better known as a Cash for Keys deal. 

The landlord told Mary she has to sign an N11 form (Agreement to End the Tenancy) right away, or he would evict her at the end of the month. Must Mary sign the N11? She has lived there for four years and does not want to leave. What can she do?

Mary cannot be forced to sign the N11 form. She has the right to get legal advice to determine whether to sign the form and when she should do so. If Mary signed the N11 under duress (felt forced to do so), she should immediately seek legal help.

To evict Mary, the landlord must serve Mary with a proper Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) notice, and then follow the processes set out in the Residential Tenancies Act. 

Although a Cash for Keys deal isn’t illegal, some landlords use this method to get vacant possession of the unit instead of using the proper LTB notices. 

If a tenant wants to terminate their tenancy by signing an N11 form, they should know that their new rent will likely be much higher if they have lived at their old unit for a while. In the current rental market, it may be very difficult to find an affordable rental unit.

The N11 form allows the parties to set any tenancy termination date agreeable to both the landlord and the tenant. An N11 may not be signed at the time the tenancy is entered into. That type of agreement is void.

It is important to note that all obligations between the landlord and the tenant end at the time of the termination date. All terms of the lease end at that date. 

Moreover, tenants must remove all of their belongings by the termination date or risk losing them without having any recourse. Landlords may dispose of tenants’ belongings after the termination date.

Where there are joint (two or more) tenants, all of the tenants must be identified and sign the N11 form for the agreement to be enforceable.

An N11 notice is one of the few notices that does not require a hearing for an eviction. A landlord can simply file the N11 form with the LTB to have an eviction order issued to the tenant. 

If a tenant receives an eviction order under these circumstances, a review of the order and a stay of the eviction may be possible, but the tenant must act fast. The tenant only has 10 days after the order was issued to file a request for a stay and a review. If more time has elapsed, the LTB may grant an exception if the circumstances warrant it. 

If you need assistance with a Landlord and Tenant Board matter, contact CKLC for advice.

Jeff Wilkins, CKLC Licensed Paralegal (www.cklc.ca, 519-351-6771)

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