To determine whether there is Landlord Quiet Enjoyment, the courts have, over the years, taken a broad view. In short, there is an obligation of a landlord not to interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the tenant. A breach of the covenant may entitle the tenant to damages, injunctive relief, or an order declaring the tenancy terminated. Substantial interference with reasonable enjoyment of a tenant or member of their household now includes both acts and omissions by the landlord, including the failure of the landlord to take reasonable steps to protect one tenant from disturbance or harassment by another.
First, care must be taken by the landlord to independently verify that there is a problem, and, except in the most serious cases, the landlord ought to give the offending tenant a warning and an opportunity to ameliorate the situation. The landlord must act quickly (which is taken to mean weeks, not months), to effectively correct the problem. In terms of whether this is a problem, the case law generally states that each individual in an apartment must put up with a certain amount of annoyance, inconvenience and interference. If the disturbance is substantial, the court may determine that it is more than a mere inconvenience. In terms of your responsibility as a landlord in this situation, however, the landlord must investigate the allegations being made and act in a fair and even handed manner.
In one case, for example tobacco smoke and unreasonable amounts of noise entered into a rental unit from the residential and commercial units below, thereby interfering with the tenant’s reasonable enjoyment of her unit. Although the building complied with all relevant building and housing standards, because of its age and unusual construction, sound and odours travelled easily through the rather “porous” floor. An abatement of rent was awarded to the tenant and the landlord was ordered to renovate the tenant’s bedroom floor in order to reduce noise below. Interestingly, the tenant had brought a subsequent application that stated that, although the renovations helped to reduce noise, it was still too noisy. This application was dismissed because it was found that the landlord had taken all reasonable and sufficient steps to protect the tenant’s reasonable enjoyment of the unit.
The important takeaways are that the landlord should take all reasonable steps to investigate or ameliorate the problem, and protect the reasonable enjoyment of the tenant. Conduct Law is an Ottawa based business law firm with locations in Ottawa, Barrhaven, Kanata and Winchester. Our professionals are experienced business lawyers who can help with corporate, estates, commercial real estate, or implementing corporate structures that assist with tax planning, whether as an operating corporation, holding corporation, partnership, family trust, testamentary trust, or many other types of legal entity depending on your legal corporate requirements.
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