Tenant vs. tenant complaints
Question: Two of my tenants who live in side-by-side units have both issued complaints against each other. First, Tenant A issued a noise complaint against Tenant B, citing an unreasonably loud television. Soon after, Tenant B issued a harassment complaint against Tenant A for knocking on their door too often. As a landlord, what are my legal responsibilities when it comes to noise and harassment complaints filed from one tenant against another?
Answer: It seems like you are dealing with a challenging situation.
Landlords are responsible under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) for ensuring the reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit or the residential complex for all tenants. This means you must respond promptly to complaints and make every reasonable effort to resolve the issue. The RTA allows a landlord to give a tenant notice terminating the tenancy if the conduct of the tenant substantially interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of the residential complex.
It is advised that you develop and/or follow your complaints policy and procedures (Sample policies and resources are available from ONPHA). Conduct and document an investigation, which will include the following steps:
- Acknowledge the receipt of each complaint, outlining the steps you will take, and making recommendations to manage the situation (such as white noise or ear plugs).
- Write a letter to the tenant whom the complaint was made against, notifying them of the complaint and scheduling a time to meet to discuss it either over the phone or in-person. Be sure to include a reminder of their obligation to avoid “substantial interference with reasonable enjoyment” and the possibility of receiving an N5 should the disruption continue.
- After the meeting, follow-up with a letter outlining what was discussed, including any recommendations for resolving the situation.
- Write a letter to the complainant outlining the steps you have taken, outcomes and any recommendations.
If it continues, you could also assess the issue by going to the tenant’s unit to see for yourself if you can hear the television from the next unit. Additionally, you could remind the complainant that they should bring complaints directly to you rather than to their neighbour in order to avoid further conflict.
Maintaining detailed records of the complaint, your response and all follow-up communications from either party is very important as the situation can end up at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). Hopefully the issue can be resolved before this, but if not the next step is to issue a notice of termination. Issue an N5 with as much detail as possible, including names, dates, times, description of the conduct, etc.
The tenant has seven days to stop the activities before you can file an L2 Application to End a Tenancy and Evict a Tenant.
If the matter goes to a hearing, there are still options available to you and the tenant at the LTB to avoid an eviction. For example, the board offers mediation services which are the best way at that point to resolve behavioural issues without eviction.
Take all complaints seriously and do your due diligence. There are legal consequences for landlords (tenants can file a T2 Application About Tenant Rights) if they fail to take action.
For more information, contact ONPHA Members Support Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been amended to include additional information