During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) has suspended in-person hearings and the issuing of most orders. However, the LTB continues to hold hearings on urgent cases such as illegal lockouts.
What is an illegal lockout?
An illegal lockout occurs when your landlord or someone acting for your landlord (e.g. the superintendent) prevents you from entering your home. Usually this is done by changing the locks and not giving you the replacement key. This is considered an illegal eviction. Your landlord is not allowed to take matters into their own hands to lock you out or evict you from your home. Only the LTB can issue an eviction order and only the Sheriff can enforce the order to evict you.
Here’s a tip sheet that you can share with other tenants.
5 immediate steps to take if you have been locked out
1. Speak to your landlord: If you have been locked out by your landlord, contact them to ask for the new key to your home and remind them that locking you out is against the law.
2. Call the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit: They may be able to help you by speaking with your landlord, following-up with a letter, or starting a formal investigation and filing charges if your landlord refuses to comply. Find out more here or call their toll-free number at 1-888-772-9277.
3. Call your Community Legal Clinic: They may contact your landlord to inform them of your legal rights to return to your home or they may help you fill out a T2 application (see tip #5) to get a hearing at the LTB. Find your community legal clinic here.
4. Call the police (non-emergency line): Ask if they can speak to your landlord to let you back in or to accompany you if you feel unsafe. Make sure you have proof that you live there such as a driver’s licence, a piece of mail, or a friend/relative to vouch for you.
5. File a “T2 application about tenant rights” against your landlord: You can e-file a T2 application or download a copy to fill out and email or mail it to the LTB. In the application, you can ask for an interim order, which may provide your landlord with directions to let you back into your home. Find the application here. Make sure to access our tip sheet on T2 applications to learn more.
If you ask for an interim order in your T2 application and your landlord doesn’t let you back in, you can hire a locksmith to change the locks to your door. This should be a last resort option. Make sure that you document your efforts of trying to get the landlord to let you back in before you call the locksmith. If you or the locksmith do any damages, you may have to pay for the cost. Once you have a new key, you must give your landlord a copy.
These tips do not apply to you if you are a guest, roommate, occupant, or you share a kitchen and/or bathroom with your landlord or landlord’s immediate family (i.e., spouse, child, parents, parents-in-law). Contact your community legal clinic for legal support.