Landlord has obligation to investigate harassment claims between tenants
WHO PRACTICE LANDLORD/TENANT LAW AND OTHER AREAS OF LAW
Q: Do landlords have any responsibility to stop harassment by another tenant? There is a woman down the hall from me who is constantly bothering everyone in the building. She is always getting into loud arguments with other tenants, claiming that they are making too much noise, but she is the one who makes the most noise. It is pretty clear to everyone that she has mental health issues. I realize she has to live somewhere, but she is making life miserable everyone in the building. A: Your situation is not unique to residential tenants. Homeowners could face similar situations with their neighbours, yet they do not have anywhere to turn other than bylaw services or the police. Condo owners dealing with similar problems may approach their condo board for help, but the board may be reluctant to intervene and has no ready mechanisms available.
As a tenant, you should let your landlord know specifics on how the woman has interfered with your reasonable enjoyment. These specifics should include the dates and details of disturbances. The landlord may not always be able to assist you, but you can see if the landlord can help.
Landlords cannot guarantee that a tenant is never harassed by another tenant. According to the law, one person is generally not responsible for the deliberate wrongful act of another person. Landlords do have obligations to attempt to stop tenants from harassing or threatening other tenants. On receiving credible complaints, the landlord must investigate the claims, generally by speaking with other tenants who saw or were involved in the incidents. The landlord should also ask the apparent wrongdoer for her side of the incidents.
After the investigation, the main tool landlords use is a notice of termination to an offending tenant demanding that the behaviour stop, failing which eviction proceedings can begin. If the landlord brings an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board (“LTB”) to seek to terminate the tenancy, the landlord will need you or other tenants to testify and explain how the offending tenant’s behaviour has negatively affected your tenancy.
The situation may well be complicated in the likely event that your neighbour’s actions are due to a mental illness. In such a case, the Human Rights Code requires that the landlord try to help the tenant by accommodating her disability. Landlords are required to work with disabled tenants to find and put in place the most appropriate solutions in a timely manner.
Your landlord should try to reach your neighbour’s emergency contacts, mental health professionals or community agencies with the aim of stopping the disturbances.
If your landlord’s attempts at accommodation are not successful, the matter may well need to go to the LTB. If the adjudicator is convinced that the disturbances are a substantial interference, the adjudicator will consider placing conditions on the offending tenant to see if future disturbances can be minimized or eliminated. In an extreme case the LTB can terminate her tenancy.