Handling Complaints

A harmonious relationship can erode quickly when landlords or tenants fail to live up to their agreement. When landlord-tenant conflicts arise, it is critical for both parties to use the proper process defined by the legislation in the province or territory where the rental premises are located.

For Tenants: Handling Landlord Problems and Actions and Problems with Other Tenants

Sometimes tenants face landlord problems. Many negative situations can develop. Your landlord could be harassing you for having a visitor or might claim that you are not living up to your obligations to keep the premises in good repair as a reason to evict. Your landlord may initiate an eviction that is based on a false claim against you. Other problems could include excessive noise, cigarette smoke seeping into your unit from other renters, or failing to take care of the garbage.

Regardless of the situation, you should understand that you have rights. A problem landlord may bully or harass you, or even try to evict you; but your landlord cannot do so legally unless the proper legal process is followed and the reason for eviction is valid.

Case Study

The situation: A retired gentleman who had lived in an apartment in the Toronto area for 29 years was given an eviction notice from his landlord, ordering him to be out of his apartment 23 days later. The reason: the landlord claimed that the tenant's dog was causing damage to the premises, asserting that the dog was chewing the hall walls and running loose and that the owner failed to clean up after his dog, both inside and outside.

In fact: In Ontario, the landlord could evict based on the reasons cited above. However, the tenant had support from the building superintendent and neighbours stating that the claims were false.

The result: The tenant took action, contacting his MPP, the Rent Tribunal, a lawyer and the local newspaper. When the newspaper contacted the landlord about the situation, the landlord decided to withdraw the eviction.

Source: interview.

Problems Relating to Repairs

Landlord-tenant conflicts often relate to Emergencies, Repairs and Privacy. In these situations, you should deal directly with your landlord and put everything in writing.

Getting Results, the Legal Way

If your landlord fails to make repairs or respect your rights, local rental authorities and advocacy agencies can offer assistance. Fire, health or building inspectors may also intervene in some cases to order improvements to a rental property. You may also consider filing an application asking the province or territory to order your landlord to carry out repairs.

NoteTenant Advocacy

If you are a tenant in a large urban centre, there may be an advocacy agency that can help. These organizations offer a variety of services to tenants. They will often explain tenants' rights, help tenants respond to landlord complaints, and protect the renter if the complaints are unreasonable or untrue. Check with your provincial or territorial rental authority to find out if tenant advocacy groups operate in your community. Some of these resources are listed in the Resources for Renters section of this guide.

If you are unsatisfied with a rental situation or landlord, contact your local rental authority and follow the proper steps. If you are tempted to use rent as leverage against your landlord, think again. Refusing to pay rent without court approval is unadvisable, as withholding rent can get you evicted! See the section — Do Not Withhold Rent to Pay for Repairs.

Responding to an Eviction Notice

What should you do when your landlord issues an eviction notice? First, review the notice carefully and check your rights. If the notice is not based on solid grounds and you want to oppose the eviction, consider following the process outlined by your local rental authority. If the eviction is based on non-payment of rent, paying the rent due in full will enable you to stay.

The eviction notice will set a date for you to vacate the premises. If you decide to oppose the grounds of the eviction, you do not have to actually vacate the premises until an order from the local rental authority is issued. If this happens, the date stipulated on the order is the actual date on which you must leave. You remain responsible for paying the rent in full up until the date that you leave the premises.



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