Part of the purpose of the Residential Tenancies Act is to provide tenants and landlords alike with environment that is free of interference and harassment. There are specific provisions of the Act prohibiting harassment. In law, harassment doesn’t necessarily mean verbal abuse. Harassment could be any action which would cause the tenant or landlord to lose “reasonable enjoyment” of the property – essentially, any action that is disruptive to the landlord’s life, which could make it significantly uncomfortable or untenable for the landlord or tenant to live in the unit, or an action that interferes with the landlord’s lawful rights and interests.
Historically, it has been more frequent that tenants frequently bring forward applications about harassment and property maintenance to the Landlord and Tenant Board. However, the Residential Tenancies Act protects the landlord from harassment, as well. The Act allows a landlord to evict a tenant who is involved in harassing activities.
When a tenant’s behaviour can be considered harassment or interference
It is not uncommon when a landlord lives in the same residential complex with his/her tenant. Accordingly, the tenant’s, his/her guest’ or occupant’s unwise behaviour may disturb other tenants, as well as the landlord. For example, frequent, loud parties stretching into early morning can certainly interfere with the landlord’s life, as could any other significantly disruptive behaviour. Such behaviours lead to “loss of reasonable enjoyment” of the property and may be grounds for eviction.
Similarly, the tenant may also be evicted if he/she interferes with the landlord’s lawful rights and interests. For example, a tenant can be evicted if s/he does not pay for the utilities, despite being obliged to pay utility bills separately as per the rental agreement.
How to evict a tenant for harassment or intereference.
The eviction procedure should follow the same pattern as in other cases of eviction. It starts with serving a notice to terminate the tenancy on the tenant. It is important here to select the right notice, as there are two types of notices, which must be selected based on how many units there are in the rental complex.
If an eviction procedure starts by using Form N5 Termination day cannot be earlier than 20 days after the notice was given to the tenant. The tenant has an opportunity to void the notice and stay in the apartment, if he stops the activity or fix the situation, which lead to the issuing the notice. If the tenant does not correct the problem within 7 days, the landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for eviction.
If the landlord lives in the same building in one of only two or three existing apartments, he/she may use a Form N7 termination notice. The term of this notice cannot be less than 10 days. The tenant cannot correct the problem and void the notice. The landlord can file application to evict the tenant immediately after the notice was given to the tenant.
The eviction hearing in cases of tenant harassment
The Landlord and Tenant Board decides on the landlord’s application based on interference with reasonable enjoyment and other lawful rights and interests in the open hearing. Both parties have rights to present evidence and call witnesses, and it is the landlord’s duty to establish that such interference took place. It must be noted that in order for the tenant to be evicted, the Board must rule that the interference must be substantial. The Board will not issue an order to evict the tenant if interference was not serious or was a one time matter. For example, a short argument even a heated one, cannot be a good cause for eviction.
It is imperative to make your case well at the hearing. Sometimes, the landlord may be facing a significant issue with the tenant but would not be successful in obtaining an eviction order because s/he does not present the issue well – if s/he does not, for example, know which evidence of the problem to use or which evidence carries the most weight. We strongly recommend obtaining legal advice or representation by a paralegal in complex matters such as this.
Please feel free to contact us for a free case assessment!