When you rent more than one unit in a building, chances are at some point there will be a neighbour’s dispute. A landlord’s obligations in such cases can be difficult to navigate. An experienced landlord and tenant lawyer can help you understand the minefield of competing interests.
So, you’ve retired, your kids have flown the coop and you and your spouse decide to move to a cozy little condo. You keep your house and decide to rent out the basement and main floor as two separate apartments to keep some income flowing during your golden years. At first all is going well, rent is paid on time, no repairs need to be made. Then one day you get that fateful text “Janine upstairs is so loud, I keep asking her to turn down her music, but instead she came downstairs and started yelling at me”. Or maybe “James downstairs leaves the garbage cans out and the racoons keep getting to them”. Or the old classic “Ronda in the basement unit smokes cigarettes indoors, I am concerned about my health”. Welcome to being a multi-unit landlord.
Is It A Repair Issue?
Sometimes, neither tenant is doing anything wrong, this is often the case in noise disputes. The downstairs tenant may be experiencing high levels of noise and the upstairs tenant may in fact be living their life normally. In such a case insufficient sound proofing may be the issue, you should take reasonable steps to repair any issues that may be contributing to the dispute.
Tenant’s Right To Reasonable Enjoyment
Tenants have a right to reasonable enjoyment of their unit, per section 22 of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), which reads;
22 A landlord shall not at any time during a tenant’s occupancy of a rental unit and before the day on which an order evicting the tenant is executed substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit or the residential complex in which it is located for all usual purposes by a tenant or members of his or her household.
This catch all provision of the RTA has been interpreted by the Landlord and Tenant Board to include a positive obligation on landlords to intervene when one tenant is infringing on the reasonable enjoyment of another tenant.
Landlord’s Obligation To Intervene
A landlord is required to take steps to take reasonable steps address any infringement on reasonable enjoyment. The tenant with the complaint does not get to dictate which steps the landlord must take, so long as the landlord took “reasonable steps”. In other words, all that is necessary to correct the problem is all that you have to do, if a warning is enough to stop the behaviour in question that is as far as you would have to go to intervene. An angry tenant cannot force you to evict another tenant if less serious intervention corrects the problem. However, if for example a warning does not work, moving to evict the tenant causing the problem could be found to be the reasonable step you had to take. By failing to intervene and take reasonable steps a landlord opens themselves up to liability and a claim for compensation by the aggrieved tenant.
As a residential landlord you have many responsibilities, sometimes when a dispute arises you may be unsure of which steps to take to correct the problem. An experienced landlord and tenant lawyer can help you asses your options and work on your case. At Mehdi Au LLP we have experienced housing lawyers who can assist you with your case.
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