Here are a few resources to help you resolve issue you are having with your landlord, including how to file a complaint and alternative methods
Filing a landlord complaint? Landlord-tenant laws you should know
Date Published: June 27, 2019
Dealing with your landlord doesn’t have to be a headache. After all, this is someone that will be a vital part of your life for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, things aren’t always rosy between tenants and landlords.
There are many cases of tenants who’ve experienced mistreatment from their landlords and don’t know where to turn.
The good news is you don’t have to put up with a bad landlord. There are steps you can take to remedy the situation no matter how bad it may seem. In the following article, we will explore some of the most common challenges that tenants face when dealing with landlords and how to resolve them. We’ll also share some of the most important landlord-tenant laws you should know. Read on for more.
Common problems with landlords
While we’re not suggesting that all landlords are horrible, but there are some who lose their tenants due to negligence. Here are some of the most common problems that tenants face when dealing with their landlord:
- Unreasonable increase in Rent
- Poor communication or lack thereof
- Mixed messages from your landlord
- Failure to respond to emergency issues
- Poor maintenance of the premises (not fixing or replacing broken appliances)
- Entering the unit without lawfully required notice
- Failure to resolve neighbor disputes
- Enforcing illegal eviction practices such as forcefully removing tenants from premises
How to deal with a bad landlord?
– Know your rights
If you didn’t read up on your rights when you signed your lease, now’s the time to do so. Know what your rights are and understand the terms of your lease. When you know these, your landlord won’t be able to hold authority over you or intimidate you. Luckily, we’ve outlined some of the most important landlord-tenant laws or you to know below.
– Keep written records
Always keep a copy of the lease handy. When raising complaints or concerns, make sure you have it all in writing. Keep your landlord’s feedback in writing also. Emails are your best bet at cracking this part of insurance. This will give you some legal leverage over any dispute that might get out of hand.
– Force their hand
When a landlord is taking their time responding to an emergency, deal with it yourself. But keep all the important documentation as proof. You can also get a tenant attorney to reach out to your landlord. This will force their hand in either reimbursing you or deducting from your rent. Again, read your lease.
– Continue your streak as a good tenant
It might be very tempting to skip on rent to give your landlord a taste of his own medicine. Remember the saying “two wrongs don’t make a right?” This is especially true here. You don’t want to give your landlord reason to win against you should things heat up.
– Request a face-to-face meeting
If enough time passes without getting word from your landlord, ask for a face-to-face meeting. When this meeting takes place, don’t neglect the second point above. Keep records. Within reason and law. You can follow up the face-to-face meeting with an email highlighting everything that was discussed.
Filing a complaint/Reporting your landlord
If the meeting does not resolve the matters between you and your landlord, you can take things further by filing a complaint against them or reaching out to rental dispute organizations.
This process can guarantee you’re given the attention you need. The complaint will motivate your landlord to resolve the issue. You must find relevant authorities to report the matter to as well.
Here is where you can go to file a landlord complaint in Canada:
- British Colombia
- Nova Scotia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Prince Edward Island
- Northwest Territories
It’s important to note that Canadian law has two types of lease agreements, written and an oral agreement. For obvious reasons, it’s best to secure written agreements. The rental legislation differ by province. This means each province in Canada has its own rental laws and rules that they follow.
For example, the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) deals with disputes in a less formal manner. They’re also less expensive compared to going to the courts. They will determine the time, date and place of the hearing. The hearing is done by a tenancy dispute officer, whose decision will be enforced by a court of the law.
The province of British Columbia also has its own dispute resolution process and so does Ontario and other provinces.
Landlord-Tenant Laws You Should Know
The Residential Tenancies Act sets out the expected standard of conduct between landlords and tenants. A lease under the RTA may be written or verbal. It’s important to know if you have a periodic tenancy or a fixed term tenancy as rights under a periodic tenancy may differ. Under the RTA, landlords have the following rights and obligations:
– Access to premises
The landlord should make the property available to the tenant from the move-in date. From then onwards, the landlord isn’t allowed to disturb your enjoyment of the property. If your landlord wants to access the property, they must do so within the precepts of the legislation. This includes giving the tenant 24-hour notice. Plus the landlord may only enter the premises to conduct inspections, repairs, pest control or to show prospective tenants or buyers.
– Lease agreement
The landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the lease.
The landlord must inspect the property with the tenant prior to moving in and out and complete an inspection report on both occasions. This is a written report of the state that the property is in during the inspection. The landlord must send a copy of the inspection report to the tenant. A landlord must provide due notice of the inspection dates beforehand and at two possible times periods. Those times must be during the day, not on religious days or holidays and not on different days.
– Security deposit
The landlord cannot ask for a security deposit that exceeds one month’s rent. Tenants mustn’t fall for things like “furniture leases” which is an extra deposit that a landlord may try to squeeze out of you. If the condo or apartment comes with furniture, the landlord must include it in the rent amount. A landlord cannot charge tenants extra on their security deposit for having children or pets.
Also, landlords must deposit the security deposit in an interest bearing account. This account must pay interest to the deposit and must be paid annually to the tenant unless there’s an agreement that the interest be compounded annually be paid out at the end of the lease or tenancy. The tenant must receive the security deposit statements no more than 10 days after moving out. This law allows landlords to deduct money from the security deposit for damages caused by the tenant or anyone who’s on the property with the tenant’s permission. The landlord may also deduct money from the security deposit for rent that’s owed in accordance with the lease. The law doesn’t allow the landlord to deduct money from the security deposit for upgrades or for fixing regular wear and tear. This means that tenants don’t have to return the property in the condition they received it, because the law allows for normal wear and tear which happens due to someone living in it.
The landlord cannot charge the tenant for changing locks or carpet cleaning at the end of the tenancy unless the carpet is extremely dirty. The landlord can only make legal deductions from the security deposit once the move-in and move-out inspections have been completed and are in writing.
– Increasing rent
The landlord cannot increase rent in a fixed term tenancy. But, they may increase the rent in a monthly periodic tenancy on a minimum of 3 months’ notice. The notice of rent increase must be dated, signed by the landlord and specify the date at which the increase will take effect. If those requirements are not met, the notice of increase is of no effect and can be ignored. No rent increase can take effect until one year of the tenancy or 365 days from the start of the tenancy.
The tenant’s rights or obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act are:
– Paying rent
The tenant must pay rent on time. Failure to do so constitutes a serious breach in the lease agreement.
Tenants must not interfere with the rights of the landlord or other tenants. You must not endanger other tenants or the landlord or damage the property. The law doesn’t allow tenants to perform any illegal acts or do illegal business activities from the property.
The tenant must keep their property reasonably clean and leave the property in a decent condition at the end of the tenancy.
The tenant must inspect the property with the landlord at least one week before moving out and receive an inspection report from the landlord shortly after.
This legislation allows tenants to sub-let with the landlord’s permission. You cannot sublet if your lease contract doesn’t make provision for it.
On a side note, the Public Health Act states that the landlord must ensure the property meets minimum health standards before moving a new tenant in.
Unfortunately, landlords generally have a bad reputation. There are so many reasons why this is the case. But the main reasons include lack of effective communication, failure to handle disputes, failure to resolve maintenance issues and more. Dealing with a bad landlord is difficult. But you can try to avoid these issues by paying attention to the telling signs. If you’re already struggling with such a situation you can look into filing a complaint with a tenancy dispute organization. To file a dispute, you first need to know the terms and conditions of your lease and have said disputes on record. Evidence is important in measuring the validity of your claims. Most importantly you need to know your rights so you can be in an informed when dealing with landlord issues.