Tenant Responsibilities and Obligations

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A Q.T.M.G. Lawyer Weighs In

Quoted for a National Post article:

Nine tons of garbage, animal feces and $30,000 in damage left behind by evicted Ontario tenants

A Kingston, Ont., landlord is questioning the law that governs how people rent properties in Ontario after his rental property sustained tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

Simon Andrew rented a three-bedroom house on John F. Scott Road to a couple and their grown son in late 2014.

He said the family “interviewed well” and came with references and seemed like “really nice people.”

His opinion has changed after he said the family proceeded to cause thousands of dollars in damage to the house, including keeping birds and livestock inside where the animals slept, ate and defecated all over the place.

It took Andrew more than six months and a ruling from the Landlord and Tenant Board to finally evict the family.

When the family moved out a couple of months ago, Andrew said he was left with a house full of garbage, rotting food and animal and human waste.

Having practiced Residential Landlord and Tenant law for 20 years, I have seen a few cases like this from time to time. Quite frankly, there is nothing in the Residential Tenancies Act that adequately addresses what happened to the landlord in this story. The culprit is not, in my view, the Residential Tenancies Act. The Residential Tenancies Act is structured to deal with a range of behavior that falls within anticipated behaviours of good and bad tenants and good and bad landlords.

The Residential Tenancies Act does a very good job in dealing with the vast majority of residential tenancies including problematic tenants and landlords. In my experience, abused tenants or abused landlords are often not using the tools the Residential Tenancies Act already provides.

That being said, what is described in this article is something that no version of the Residential Tenancies Act, with whatever amendments you can propose, could ever deal with. The behavior of these tenants is criminal. They entered into the landlord and tenant relationship knowing what they were going to do. What they did was intentionally destructive and intended to maximize damage to the house and the landlord. There is no “landlord and tenant” law that will adequately deal with people who set out to do this.

These tenants need to be charged under the Criminal Code. They need to face jail time. They need to be compelled to make restitution. If the Criminal Code doesn’t provide a satisfactory method of dealing with tenants as described in this article that is where the legislative changes need to be made.

Michael K.E. Thiele
Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP
Barristers & Solicitors