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How to Evict a Tenant for Non-payment of Rent

October 12, 2021
evict tenant

Whether you like it or not, winter is coming.

The most important factor to consider when staring down the barrel of at least 3 months of sub-zero temperatures is preparedness. Here are a few helpful tips that will keep you (and your property) on track and worry free as we move into the holiday season.

 

1. Know your roof’s maximum snow load

When it comes to the weight of snow, the type of snow is as important as the depth of the snow. Fresh powder snow is typically lighter than wet packed snow, and ice is heavier than snow.

There are several contributing factors to the acting load on your roof that include snow drifts from adjacent buildings or mechanical equipment, heavy rain on snow, and melting snow that refreezes.

If you don’t know your roof’s snow load, hire a structural engineer to verify the snow load threshold of the roofing system. This information will be important after an event when determining if there is too much snow on the roof.

 

2. Prevent plumbing from freezing

  • Inspect and seal or repair all cracks, holes, leaks, windows, doors, and other openings on exterior walls with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from penetrating the wall cavity.
  • Insulate and seal around attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, and electric and mechanical chases.
  • Make sure your pipes in hard-to-reach places like attics, crawl spaces, and along outside walls are insulated. Wrap pipes and faucets in unheated or minimally heated areas of the building.
  • Make sure your existing freeze-protection devices and alarms are in good working order.
  • Test freeze stats (low temperature sensing device) and valves before the weather gets cold.
  • Pipes leading to the exterior should be shut off and drained at the start of winter. If these exterior faucets do not have a shut-off valve inside the building, have one installed by a plumber.
  • Hire a licensed fire protection specialist to conduct routine maintenance on your sprinkler system. Discuss the systems exposure to winter weather and potential mitigation options.

 3. Winterize your landscaping and irrigation

  • Keep all bushes and trees trimmed and away from the building. Trees with branches near or hanging over your building can damage the roof cover, siding, and windows.
  • Pay particular attention to trees within falling distance of overhead power lines leading into the property. Avoiding a power outage can save a day or two of business interruption.
  • Shut off and drain irrigation systems and outdoor hoses.

 4. Maintain your HVAC system

  • Schedule preventative maintenance and make sure the system is operating properly and efficiently.  Be sure to change any air filters and check that exhaust gases are being ventilated properly.
  • Select a heating system repair service before an unexpected outage or maintenance issue arises mid-season. Loss of heat for even a few hours could significantly disrupt your business during a cold snap.
  • Have someone ready to come quickly – including after hours – and negotiate an emergency rate in advance.

5. Service your generator.

The time to maintain a generator is well before a major snowstorm or disaster strikes (when professional assistance may be unavailable, power lines are down, and access roads are blocked). Backup power can help maintain a consistent building temperature and reduce the risk of freezing pipes leading to business disruption and damage.

 Permanent:

  • Permanent generators should have a proper maintenance plan that includes weekly, monthly, and annual checks. See the manufacturer’s specifications for more information.
  • Run the unit weekly on its maintenance plan to ensure it is properly functioning in case of an emergency. Individual units may have a timer that allows a programmed test to be scheduled. Qualified personnel should oversee these scheduled weekly tests.
  • Check the generator enclosure for loose debris or other conditions that could cause the unit to not function properly.

Portable:

  • Store in a dry location.
  • Set up a maintenance schedule to include periodic test runs for the unit

6. Check your roof and gutters

    Water that does not properly drain off a roof has the potential to freeze, adding to snow load and creating ice dams. Ice dams can add significant additional loads to the roof and could cause interior water damage if left unattended. It is important for your team to maintain the roof drains and gutters.

    Low slope (flat) roofs:

    • Inspect roof and repair leaks before winter season.
    • Remove all debris and other items from roof and roof drainage systems that prevent drainage of water from the roof during the melting process.
    • Check that all flashing and seals are flush and secure.

    Steep slope roofs:

    • Inspect your roof and repair leaks before winter season.
    • Secure loose shingles.
    • Check roof-edge waterproofing and seal to prevent potential drafts.
    • Add extra insulation in your attic or surrounding areas.

    Gutters:

    • Inspect gutters and ensure they’re secured to the building. Replace any missing gutter fasteners.
    • Clean gutters and interior downspouts thoroughly, removing all debris and unclogging drains.
    • Run test of gutters and downspouts to be sure water does not back up. This can be done by using a hose.
    • Check downspouts to ensure they divert water away from the foundation.

     7. Create a business continuity plan

    • Have a plan for communicating with employees across multiple channels (text, email, phone).
    • Have an emergency/recovery plan that is communicated to employees, customers, clients, delivery, etc.
    • Create a snow and ice removal plan for all roofs and grounds.
    • Plan for emergency snow removal in event of heavy accumulation. Identify and supply proper equipment and check it in advance of predicted snow.
    • Some businesses rely on on-street parking, so develop a back-up plan for nearby off-street parking if the municipality imposes a parking ban on streets (for plows). This occurs more frequently in the north, even hours before snow is expected, so they can pre-treat the roads.
    • Purchase and be ready to add non-slip water absorption mats to all entrances for both your employees and customers to capture water and snow as they enter your business and to minimize slips and falls.
    • Test/practice the plan.

    8. Check your insurance coverage and inventory valuable equipment

    • Know what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t
    • Keep your insurance agent’s contact in your phone
    • If you have a loss due to a winter-related event, you’ll have to itemize your losses for your insurance company. Take a complete inventory of your home and store it somewhere safely offsite.

    NOTE: Check in with tenants regarding any maintenance requests or building concerns they may have. Living or working in your commercial property means they are on constant alert to their surroundings. If they see, hear, or smell something, ask that they say something.

    For an investor buying a commercial property, it’s not unusual that now and then, there will be some issues with a tenant.

    While good property management can help mitigate or prevent potential problems. real estate investment in never trouble-free. One of the most common complaints is that some tenants are always late with their rent and then they finally stop paying.

    Evictions are usually the last resort — but if you do have to take that route, this article will provide more background about the process involved.

    If a tenant breaches a commercial lease in Alberta, a landlord has four primary options in how they can proceed, that are pursuant to a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.

    As the options are mutually exclusive, if a landlord fails to clearly notify a tenant of its election, then the landlord may be banned from clarifying its choice or making a reelection at a later date. It is very important for the landlord to explore each of their options thoroughly before taking action against the tenant.

    The primary options a landlord has if its commercial tenant defaults on a lease are as follows:
        1. Sue for rent and damages on the grounds that the lease is still in force. In this situation, the landlord does not alter the relationship with the tenant, allowing the tenant to stay in the premises while the landlord sues for all unpaid rent and damages until the end of the lease. If the tenant elects to reject the lease and the landlord accepts keys to the premises (i.e. if the landlord is concerned about the security of the property), there is no penalty and no surrender of the lease, as long as the landlord notifies the tenant in a timely manner that the lease remains in effect.

    2.  Terminate the lease (evict the tenant) and retain the right to sue for rent accrued or for damages up to the date of termination for the previous breach of the lease. Here, the landlord cannot sue for any future rent as the lease is treated as being at an end, as of the termination date. Generally, when a landlord changes the locks it is viewed by the courts as terminating the lease and the landlord will be deemed to have chosen this remedy, giving up their right to claim damages for any unpaid rent.

    3. Advise the tenant that the property will be re-let on the tenant’s account and the landlord enters into possession as an agent of the tenant for that purpose.

    4.  Notify the defaulting tenant that damages will be claimed for the present value of the unpaid rent and all future rent for the unexpired period of the lease, less the actual rental value for that period. Further, the landlord would exercise the landlord’s right of distress, and seize any unencumbered assets in the premises.This option usually provides the most value to a landlord, as they are able to hamper the business of the tenant by seizing the assets (either on a bailee’s undertaking or a physical removal of the assets) but are still entitled to sue for damages that the landlord incurs past the date of the landlord exercising its right of distress. Usually the date that the tenant will be put out of business due to the landlord’s physical seizure and removal of the assets, until the end of the original lease term.

    The key for any landlord is to notify the tenant at the time of seizure, that the lease is not being terminated: termination of the lease/changing the locks may otherwise prevent the landlord from the option to recover future rent and damages.

    Of course, the wording of the default provision(s) in the lease will dictate how enforcement steps are taken, and this must be carefully reviewed.

    Please be advised that this memorandum is not a substitute for legal advice, and options available to a landlord are decided on a case by case matter, based upon the unique facts to each situation.

    If you need help with matters relating to eviction of tenants

    At Servis Realty Inc, our team of commercial property management professionals have lengthy experience working on eviction cases and can work on the paperwork and communications and collaboration with other professionals to assist with the eviction of tenants before, during and after court eviction dates. 

    If you have any questions or are looking for assistance in matters relating to tenant evictions, we’re here to help. Call us at 780-415-5414 or fill out our contact form and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

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