If you are a residential landlord or tenant in Ontario, there is a complex system of governance that regulates most of the tenancies. Undoubtedly, navigating the law can be challenging on your own. Therefore, it may be wise to protect your rights by hiring an experienced housing lawyer if you are involved in a landlord tenant dispute.
An Unauthorized Occupant can be defined as any person who stays in the rental unit but he or she is not officially on the lease. The prospect of new, unscreened individuals entering into the rental properties may be frightening for many residential landlords. That anxiety might bring about an inclusion of a “no guest” or “no roommate” policy being added into the lease agreement. Such clauses are unenforceable. Moreover, restricting a tenant’s right to have guests or roommates in their unit permits the tenants taking the liberty of filing a harassment claim against their landlords.
The tenants are responsible for the behaviour of their guests (and other occupants) when they are in the residential complex. The current law in Ontario preserves tenant’s right to use the rental unit in similar ways that a homeowner would, as such a tenant owns the right to bring in guests or other occupants.
Tenant’s Harassment Claim
Where a landlord attempts to restrict a tenant from having guests or moving in another occupant (such as a roommate or new romantic partner), the courts and the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) can order compensation to tenants.
Compensation of up to $25,000 (more if it is a corporate landlord) can be ordered by the LTB, as well fine can be issued. A tenant is entitled to proceed with a harassment application by filing a T2 Application About Tenant’s Rights.
As long as there are no disturbances by the tenants and the unit has not become overcrowded, unfortunately, the Landlord has no recourse. A landlord may be able to evict a tenant for overcrowding, however, in extremely limited circumstances, if there are more people occupying a unit than Municipal Health and Safety Regulations has specified. Moreover, the Canadian National Occupancy Standards (CNOS) sets out the bedroom requirements of a household by taking into account the age, sex and familial relationships of individuals in a household in particular.
Note: This is an extremely rare application and overcrowding needs to be very severe for the Board to intervene.
N5 Notice Of Termination
A landlord can serve N5 Notice of termination to the tenant if health, safety or housing standards are contravened due to the occupancy of additional number of people in the rental unit. N5 notice is an initial warning that instructs the tenant to correct the problem. If the problem is corrected within 7 days of notice, then the tenancy is not terminated.
The landlords are not allowed to limit guests, nor their length of stay, nor can they prevent a tenant from moving in a roommate. Similarly, a landlord cannot raise the rent on the ground that there is an additional occupant in the unit. However, tenants have to accept the responsibility of their guest’s conduct. In case a guest/roommate causes damage to the property or creates other problems in the residential complex, the landlord is entitled to proceed to LTB for the eviction of their tenant (other occupants will be compelled to leave as well in the event of an eviction).
The Bottom Line: Handling unauthorized tenants can be a very stressful situation. Therefore, developing an in-depth screening process prior to signing a lease with the tenants can come handy. If they are reluctant to undergo screening or the screening discloses less-than-satisfactory results, then such occupants might not be the perfect-fit for your property. Additionally, a lot of future disputes can be minimized if the landlord ensures in the written lease agreement that in case of discovery of unauthorized occupants, the occupants may be asked to leave the unit or be added to the rental lease.
If you are facing any landlord tenant dispute, you should contact a housing lawyer as soon as possible to protect your interests. Ayaz Mehdi Professional Corporation can aptly empathize and comprehend your case at the most reasonable costs.
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