Resources & Insights

Barriston Law Comments on Issues Faced by Landlords and Tenants.–landlord-and-tenant-board-drowning-in-backlog

With Barrie being the 10th most expensive city to rent in Canada, and the Landlord and Tenant Board (“LTB”) struggling with delays, landlord and tenant disputes are becoming more common. This can mean a lot of things, like tenants being forced to live in substandard housing for long periods of time, or landlords going without rental income for several months.

As we saw in the recent case where a Barrie landlord was arrested for turning off their tenant’s utilities, tensions can be high between landlords and tenants Josh Valler, partner at Barriston, commented in a recent CTV News interview: “You have this dichotomy between renters and the landlords, and it’s difficult to reconcile those two.”

While there may be a long wait to be heard at the LTB, landlords and tenants can take steps to ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities. We’re going to be shedding light on some of the more pertinent questions that arose in this recent Barrie case.

When can your landlord access your rental unit without written notice?

A landlord can only enter a rental unit without written notice in limited situations. These include:

  • There is a case of an emergency,
  • The tenant consents to the entry at the time,
  • If the tenancy agreement requires the landlord to clean the unit at regular intervals, or
  • To show the unit to prospective tenants if the landlord and tenant have agreed to end the tenancy. It is important to note that as a landlord, you want to be sure to inform the tenant or make reasonable effort to inform them of the intention to show the unit.

A landlord can enter the unit with written notice, 24 hours in advance to:

  • Carry out repairs,
  • Allow a potential mortgagee/insurer to view the unit,
  • Carry out a reasonable inspection, or
  • Allow prospective purchases to view the unit.

In the case of written notice, the landlord must specify the reason, day and time for entry.

When can your landlord cut your utilities?

Landlords cannot withhold or interfere with:

  • Reasonable supply of food or a vital and/or care service
  • Reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit to a substantial degree
  • Harass, obstruct, coerce, threaten or interfere with a tenant

Therefore, a landlord cannot cut utilities to the rental unit.

When can a landlord terminate a lease?

A big misconception is that  landlords can terminate a lease at the end of the term for any reason. A landlord can terminate a lease at the end of the term for the following reasons only:

  • If the landlord needs to use the unit for residential occupation for themselves, some of their family members, or certain care services providers;
  • If the landlord sold the rental unit and the purchaser needs to use the unit for the same reasons as above; or
  • The landlord needs possession of the unit in order to demolish it, convert it, or do repairs that require the tenant to leave.

A landlord can terminate a lease at any time if:

  • The tenant fails to pay rent;
  • The tenant commits an illegal act in the rental unit;
  • The tenant purposefully causes damage to a unit;
  • The tenant interferes with the enjoyment of the unit for either the landlord or other tenants in the building; or
  • The tenant does something that affects the safety of another in the rental unit.

How can a landlord terminate a lease?

Each scenario mentioned has different requirements for the length of notice for termination required, so it’s important to ensure what notice period is required.

For tenants, it’s important to know that depending on the situation, you may be entitled to compensation from the landlord. Furthermore, in situations of unpaid rent, if the tenant pays the overdue rent during the notice period, then the termination notice automatically becomes void.

For landlords, it is generally good practice to use the standard notices provided by the  LTB . If you are in a situation where the tenant hasn’t vacated on the required date, or they refuse to vacate, then you must commence an application with the LTB to end the tenancy and order an eviction. It is highly discouraged for landlords to try and self-remedy.

Know your rights!

The LTB website contains very helpful directions and guidelines that outline tenant/landlord rights and responsibilities. If you have questions about your rights as a landlord or tenant, please give us a call.

Written by: Nicolas Guevara-Mann and Nahal Golmohammadi