Tenant abandoned property without paying rent.

Will Thompson

New Forum Member
I had a new tenant setup for my rental house. Checked references and met them a couple of times. Young family seemed trustworthy. I got a holding deposit and ½ month rent as deposit and allowed them to move in 2 days early.

It just so happened that Interact was down that weekend so they couldn’t transfer the rent that day. Two weeks later (after calls and texts) I found out one of them had lost their job and they couldn’t pay the rent. They agreed to move out asap. That was two weeks ago. However, they have left some items in the house and still have keys. I have texted them and left voicemails without reply. The lost rent is $1250 (ish) and I had to lower the rent to get someone in with short notice (another $900) plus cleaning, etc. (Another $350) A total of $2,500.

I have managed to find a new tenant who wants to move in this weekend.

Two questions.

1. Can I pursue the outgoing tenant for these costs ? If so, what would be the best methodology ? Collection agency ?

2. Do I have to issue the outgoing tenant with any paperwork stating forfeiture before new tenant can move in

Any help or further suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Frequent Forum Member
This is one of those unfortunate situations that you hope you don't have to deal with. It's also one of those situations were you have to decide how far you want to take it and if it's even worth your time.
You stated you have half month rent and holding deposit? (I'm not familiar with the last one)
So how much did they pay you?

I'm also not clear on what you mean with getting someone in on short notice for $900.00, and depending on how big your place is, it seems a bit much for cleaning. But hard to judge on that. Don't know the facts.

Between what they paid you and what you claimed it cost you, your loss is likely less then $2500
Nobody likes to loose money, I get that, but I would shrug it off and move on.

One suggestion I would make, is to offer any tenants you have 2 ways of paying, 1 is post dated cheques, the second is a PAD form from their bank.
Never cash or email transfers. Unless you have a big apartment building with onsite manager where there are office opening hours and a debit machine. But even then......
You want to be in control as far as collection. Not the tenant. Any other way you will find your self chasing money without any obligation for tenant to answer your text, email or phone calls. Only thing that's left is to pay them a visit but make it easy on yourself.

And I would also change the locks, and throw away whatever they left, or liquidate


Inspired Forum Member
This is one reason I like have a property manager between me and my tenants. They don't mess around and get non paying tenants out and the unit turned over asap. Regarding the unpaid expenses, absolutely I'd go after them for it. First, I'd explain that you will be seeking remuneration for unpaid rent and other expenses related to the move out and give them a bill. Second, I'd explain the consequences of nonpayment (hit to their credit).

I give a lot of $$ to charity and to help people out. Free rent is not one of those ways. Never want my tenants to consider that rent is optional and non payment is acceptable.

One thing to be sure is that you follow the legal process to evict your delinquent tenants as they current have a right to the property otherwise. Particularly as they have the keys. You want to get the new tenants in and start clean.

Best of luck!


Frequent Forum Member
These tenants currently have no legal right to the property as the way I read it you gave them notice and they already agreed to moving out.
I assume you followed this up with the proper paperwork but even if it was verbally, the proof is in that they packed up and left.
Make sure you keep a detailed report for yourself of everything that transpired.

They left some property behind and have keys? The different provinces have different rules on how to handle it but most common is you have to give them notice, (to remove belongings) which you can't really as you don't know where they went and they leave your messages unanswered.
So you can sure go ahead and change the locks (yes it's an extra expense) and post a memo on the door dated the day they moved out.
You can remove the belongings and store it for another 16 days, since 2 weeks have gone by and 30 days is the max.
The kicker is, that if they would come back within that timeframe to claim their belongings, you can serve them with your expense statement and don't have to give any back till all your cost is paid. If they don't pay, you can liquidate. Any items you can't store you can already dispose off.

2 things........check your provincial tenancy act, and secondly, in your case I would recommend to have a property manager in place for future dealings.

Matt Crowley

Senior Forum Member
REIN Member
A bit of a lapse in process here... no keys until payment received should be the rule. eTransfer = personal cheque, can be revoked. Something isn't adding up with your background check either, sounds like it was not sufficient thorough or credit checks were not performed.

You may have tenants in the house who have nothing to lose. Your best solution is to work with them to get them out of the property ASAP. Sure, you can go after them for collections but one usually does not spend time suing broke people. Doesn't sound like you lost enough to be worth the time in my opinion.

If they are going to be trouble then start the court process. Otherwise, pay them and help them to move on. Very avoidable mistake!