Land­lord has obli­ga­tion to in­ves­ti­gate ha­rass­ment claims be­tween ten­ants

Ottawa Citizen - - CLASSIFIED - BY DICKIE & LY­MAN LLP

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.

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