Member support question: Unauthorized lease assignment
My tenant had her mother move in to her unit last year. The mother was never listed as a permitted occupant on the lease or any addendum, but her income was reported as part of the household.
A few months ago, we received the annual RGI review for the household. The mother had submitted the documents, listed herself as the tenant and did not include the daughter’s information. Since then, the mother has submitted rent cheques from her own account. We haven’t deposited them.
The daughter has visited the building, but she no longer seems to live here – although I don’t have proof that she lives anywhere else. I believe she intends for her mother to take over the lease. What do I do?
It seems like the daughter has tried to assign the unit, which is not legal.
Don’t wait too long to try and make contact. When you do, ask them to reply within a specific number of days (two or three). All correspondence should be addressed to the official tenant (the daughter). In your correspondence, make sure not to refer to the mother as a tenant.
To address the situation, there are a few approaches you can try:
- Contact the official tenant and ask her to advise whether she’s still living there.
- If you don’t get a reply, send a letter to the household:
- ask them to confirm who lives in the household
- clarify that the only people living in the unit should be the tenant and permitted occupants, listing the official tenant and any permitted occupants by name
- inform them that it’s not legal to assign a social housing unit
- inform them that accepting rent from someone else (on behalf of the official tenant) does not establish a new tenancy
- remind them that a tenant can only have one primary residence and can’t live somewhere else while keeping the apartment
- let them know you will be taking action at the Landlord Tenant Board if they do not indicate that the mother will be moving out
Since the official tenant hasn’t been included in the annual review forms, it shows that they don’t consider the daughter part of the household anymore.
- After you’ve sent the letter, you can deposit the mother’s cheques. Rent receipts should be addressed to the official tenant only, indicating which unit number the rent will be applied to.
- After taking the above steps, if the issue isn’t resolved within a week, you should file a Form A2 – Application about a Sublet or an Assignment with the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for an illegal assignment as soon as possible. In the A2, you can indicate that: you are a social housing provider; the unit receives a subsidy, and; you are exempt from the sections of the Residential Tenancies Act related to assignments.
- If the issue moves forward to an LTB hearing, come prepared with three copies of all relevant documents. Useful supporting documents include:
- all letters you sent to the household about the issue, and any replies
- the annual review form
- any key card or fob records to indicate how often the daughter came and went to the building
- documents showing what amount rent was paid, by whom, when and how
- records showing how much last month’s rent deposit you have from the official tenant
The tenant and her mother may not have known that they weren’t legally allowed to assign the unit. It could be very difficult for the mother to find out that she may lose what she thinks of as ‘home.’ Keep this in mind as you try to resolve the issue, being as clear and fair as possible.