Tenant rights and responsibilities - how to handle complaints

Even the best tenant/landlord relationship can quickly break down when one of the two parties does not fulfill the obligations in the rental agreement. When these kinds of conflicts occur, it is very important for both parties to take all the of the appropriate legal measures to resolve the issues between them.


For Tenants: How to handle problems with landlords and other tenants

It is not uncommon for tenants to have problems with their landlords. As a result, the relationship that a tenant has with a landlord can quickly turn negative in a number of ways. Whether it is the landlord harassing the tenant because of their overnight guests or they are making some other claim as a reason to evict them, these situations do occur. Sometimes landlords even make false claims as a way of trying to evict their tenant. Other issues a landlord may have with a tenant include complaints of excessive noise or cigarette smoke coming from your unit.

No matter what the situation is with your landlord, it is important that you understand all of your rights as a tenant. Even if a landlord is trying to bully or harass you into eviction, they cannot do so without following the proper legal process and without a valid reason to do so.

Case Study

The situation: A retired man who lived in Toronto for 29 years was given an eviction notice by his landlord, telling him that he had to vacate his apartment within 23 days. The reason the landlord gave was that he claimed the tenant’s dog had caused significant damage to the property, telling him that the dog had chewed the hall walls and was running loose outside among other things.

In fact: While it is true that the landlord could evict the tenant for the reasons he claimed, the tenant got the support of the building superintendant as well as other tenants in the building who stated that the landlord’s claims were untrue.

The result: The tenant took a proactive approach and contacted his MPP as well as a lawyer and the Rent Tribunal and a local newspaper. The newspaper contacted the landlord regarding the situation the tenant had described and as a result decided to drop the eviction entirely.

Source: Interview

Problems relating to Repairs

Conflicts between landlords and tenants often have to do with emergencies as well as repairs and privacy issues. When it comes to these matters, tenants should deal with their landlords directly, putting everything in writing.

Always take the legal route

If your landlord does not make the necessary repairs or fully respect the tenant’s rights, there are local rental authorities as well as advocacy agencies that can provide any necessary assistance. There are also fire, health and building inspectors that can help with certain cases to help tenants with getting any necessary repairs done in a timely manner. A tenant can also file an application to ask the province or territory to legally order the landlord to do the repairs that are needed.

NOTE: Tenant advocacy

Tenants that live in large urban centres may find that there are local advocacy agencies that can be of assistance in helping to resolve issues with landlords. There are usually a variety of services that these organizations offer, and they clearly explain to tenants what their rights are. These organizations also help to protect the renter if the complaints being made by their landlord are untrue or unreasonable in any way. It is important to check with local provincial or territorial rental authorities to find out if there is in fact an advocacy group that is in your area. You will find that there are some potentially useful resources that can be found in the Useful web links for landlords & tenants section of this guide.

If you are not currently satisfied with the rental situation relating to your landlord, you should contact your local rental authority immediately and follow the necessary steps to get the help you need. Before you withhold rent as a way of getting leverage over your landlord, remember that doing so will only cause more problems than it will resolve. Withholding rent without any kind of court approval or order is not advisable and you could get evicted as a result. For more information on this subject, refer to Do not withhold Rent to Pay for Repairs.

How to Respond to an Eviction Notice

What is the proper procedure to follow when you are given an eviction notice by your landlord? The first you will want to do is to carefully review the notice and check to see what your rights are. If the notice you received doesn’t seem to be justified or warranted and you want to refute the eviction, you will need to know what the process for this is by checking with your local rental authority. If you have received the eviction notice for non-payment of rent, paying it will enable you to stay and will void the notice completely.

The eviction notice should set a specific date that the tenant has to be off the premises or it is not valid. If you are going to oppose the eviction based on the reasons listed for it, you do not have to leave the rental property until you get an order from your local rental authority. If you get this notification, the date that is stipulated on the order is when you have to be off the premises by. Even if you are evicted, you are still responsible for paying rent in full up until the date that you leave.

Provinces & Territories