Rental Evictions & Damage Deposits - What You Should Know
A typical May 2-4 weekend will see the arrival of thousands of high school aged young adults, most looking to let their hair down, have fun and break a few rules. Ahhhh, to be young again! <sigh!> A party in Wasaga Beach is a right of passage for many Ontario youth, but what happens if your party gets out of control and you are evicted?
The vast majority of teens and younger adults are well behaved, and they understand their responsibilities when it comes to renting a room, cottage or camp site. If you break it, chances are you will have to pay for it. But how does one know when they are being treated unfairly? Wear and tear, broken lamps, missing cutlery, torn curtains - what if you arrived at a rental to find these things already damaged and the rental owner accuses you, and expects payment?
Renting Is A Legal Contract
Renting is a binding contract between you and the rental owner. It's not to be taken lightly and some people find out the hard way that drunken or abusive behaviour can result in eviction, or even a night in the O.P.P. detachment's jail cell. Being evicted from a rental unit can ruin your vacation and create legal problems for you.
I have written several times about dealing with accommodation providers. As the owner of this website, I take the treatment of tourists very seriously. The last thing I want to see is an unhappy tourist. It's not good for my business and it leaves a lasting stain on Wasaga Beach in general. Likewise, the Town of Wasaga Beach, the Chamber of Commerce and the O.P.P. would be similarly unhappy to learn of any problem rentals.
Know your rights. Protect yourself.
The best way to avoid problems is to plan ahead and do a little research. Before you send anyone a deposit, ask questions and review the rental contract. There are no large accommodation companies here. No Motel 6, Quality Inn, Holiday Inn, Novotel, Ramada Inn etc., corporate rental companies simply do not exist here (yet). Bear in mind that most of the renters are small, sole-proprietor types of establishments. Their rules and attitudes vary wildly. They don't have high-powered legal teams drafting their contracts, or a bevy of well-trained staff to deal with any problems. Occasionally they misunderstand their legal obligations.
I've seen rental contracts that were well-meaning but wrong - or worse; deliberately written to make it easier for them to evict. Too often their contracts wouldn't stand up in court but most disputes never get that far.
I want to emphasise that the vast majority of rental operators here in Wasaga Beach are decent, honest people but since there is no across-the-board standard for rentals, you should be prepared before you book. Ask for references if you aren't sure. Most of the rentals here are mom & pop businesses which are owned by a family for years or even generations. You are safe with most of them. The Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Wasaga Beach, the By-law department and this website are here if you have questions or need referrals. Online comments may be helpful as well, but as with all things on the internet - read them critically.
Common Rules You May Encounter
There are some strict rules that rental operators must observe to stay in business. Some examples of typical rental rules are:
- No fires allowed unless in an approved fire pit. Observe the allowed times, height and burning materials. By-laws can be downloaded from the Town of Wasaga Beach's website.
- Do not invite people to your rental without the permission of your host. Rental operators are required to know who is checked-in, and they have limits on how many people can stay in a unit. This rule causes a lot of misunderstanding with tourists especially when they rent cottages.
- You may be required to bring your own linens and/or clean-up your unit. Unless you are staying at a hotel or motel where they have maid service.
- YOU are responsible for the behaviour of ALL your guests. Swinging from the chandelier or tossing a tv out the window like some 1970's rock star will land you in trouble. When your group's behaviour disturbs other guests, neighbouring businesses or other residents, you may be courting trouble.
- Don't assume your pet will be welcomed. Pet allergies are very real and can be as unpopular as cigarette smoking. Some accommodation providers have a room or two set aside for guests with pets but smaller businesses might not have this luxury. Ask in advance before bringing your pet.
- Smoking in designated areas only. This needs no explanation.
Damage deposits exist to reimburse the rental owner should anything be damaged during your stay. If you put down $1,500.00 for your group and a few dishes got broken, the rental owner is only entitled to take the value of the missing or broken items. It has been reported to me that some rentals will (try to) take an entire damage deposit, but such behaviour is illegal (and immoral). Despite what some rental contracts may say, a rental owner is not allowed to take your deposit for any other reason but to cover broken or missing items - and only to the value of the item or items.
What if the item in dispute was already missing or broken? If you are expected to sign a contract waiving your right to your damage deposit, ask for a list of included items. Once there is a dispute it is difficult to argue that there were 6 forks, not 8. When you arrive, take a few photos of anything that does not look in pristine condition. If you succeed in getting a list of the cottage contents, do a quick check to make sure everything is accounted for before you settle in.
Pay with credit card if you can. Credit card companies can sometimes intervene in a dispute. You do not have the same protection if you pay in cash, by cheque or bank draft, e-deposit etc.
If your room or cottage has no cooking facilities, there is no cooking allowed. Fire rules. Please respect them. Most rentals in Wasaga Beach include on-site BBQ's and there are lots of restaurants should you need them. Ditto for smoking. Rentals can be quite serious about clean-up costs.
Don't Be Pressured Into Booking Before You Have All Your Information
It is the goal of any accommodation provider to fill his/her rooms. They can be a bit over-zealous at booking time and the sales tactics you encounter elsewhere exist here as well. "There is someone else inquiring about that cottage... better hurry." Or, "I need your deposit today to hold the booking..." Yadda, yadda.... take your time and don't give in to pressure. Except for the May 24 and Canada Day long weekend, there is almost always vacancies. Few places are 100% booked for the entire season.