Dear lawyer, A friend of mine and her daughter are renting…
Dear lawyer, A friend of mine...
A friend of mine and her daughter are renting the main floor and upstairs level of a townhouse in Vaughan, Ontario. They moved in a couple of months ago, but have since experienced a few problems with the landlord and the landlord's real estate agent who is managing the property rental for the landlord. I wanted to get some legal advice about a few problems she has encountered, to confirm what rights she has and what action (if any) she should take.
First of all, the agent has shown up at the townhouse unannounced on three separate occasions over the last few months, without giving my friend the required 48 hours notice. The agent showed up at the townhouse twice with potential tenants to see the basement unit without giving any notice whatsoever and on another occasion the agent came up to the townhouse, put her face up against the window and was looking into my friend's private place, which startled my friend. My friend asked her what she was doing there and she said that the landlord sent her to investigate to find out if my friend has a cat in the townhouse (which she does not)...Her lease says that the landlord and agent have to give her 48 hours notice if they want to visit the premises, but on 3 separate instances the agent just showed up there unannounced without giving my friend any notice.... Her lease says that no pets are allowed, but it is my understanding that the landlord has no right to prevent them from having a dog or cat, if they ever chose to have one. Is that correct? Also, it is my understanding that my friend has a right to privacy and the peaceful enjoyment of the property she is paying the landlord $1,500 per month (plus utilities) for....How can my friend prevent the agent (and landlord) from invading her privacy?? She is not in arrears with her rent and is a good tenant (no dogs or cats, no parties, just her and her daughter living there quietly).. Also, they have asked her to remove some chairs from the front porch, saying that having the chairs there will lower the value of their property (which is nonsense, since almost all of the other people living on the street have chairs an other things on their porches). Does the landlord have any right to tell her to remove the chairs (and other things) from the front porch)?
A new tenant moved into the basement apartment (I'm pretty sure that the basement apartment is unregistered and not legal) a week or so ago and (instead of voicing her concerns to my friend) complained to the landlord about my friend, saying that her and her daughter make too much noise and that the basement is cold etc.
And finally, a few days ago my friend called the agent to advise her that the garage door wouldn't close and that they should come over to fix it when they get a chance. The landlord lives 5 minutes away, but instead of coming over to fix the problem himself, he sent a repairman over to fix the problem. They are now saying that my friend caused the problem (that her daughter's bicycle was leaning on the plug and that caused the problem - they have no proof of this), and that she should pay the $70 repair bill. It is my understanding that the landlord is responsible to pay for all maintenance and repairs. Is this correct? A while ago, my friend mentioned to the landlord that the toggle switch in the upstairs shower wasn't working and asked the landlord to fix it. He said that a repair would be expensive, so my friend said no problem, not to worry about fixing it....
It seems that the landlord and agent are being unfair with my friend, almost to point of harassment. She is now worried that they will continue to visit the property unannounced, without giving any notice. Does my friend have the legal right to change the locks to prevent the landlord and agent from entering the premises when she is not there?
Here are 2 emails that my friend received from the landlord/agent:
" Good Evening:
I hope you are well and have finally made this property your home. The landlord has asked me to contact you with some things:
1. There are still items on the front porch and at the side of the house that must be put away or removed.
2. The garage is to be shared with the basement tenant, and, therefore, the side allotted to her must not have any of your personal items. I have asked her to put on your side of the garage anything belonging to you
3. Would you and your daughter please NOT wear shoes in the house. It is not well insulated and every noise can be heard in the basement.
4. The basement tenant was awake last night because either you or your daughter were moving furniture around upstairs and she could not sleep. She put the fan on to muffle the noise and still she could hear everything. Since both of you share the house, both of you are entitled to quiet living...which means, she cannot play loud music or interrupt you upstairs and you and your daughter must respect her right to a quiet life downstairs. I know this is an adjustment for you since you have been in the house since the 1st of July, but now that the basement tenant has moved in, she must be happy too. The basement tenant works at a very stressful job as manager handling suicide crisis and must get her sleep.
5. I have asked the basement tenant to talk to you about laundry. She usually does laundry Friday nights. She is often away Saturday and Sunday. Can I give her your email and/or your cell number and the two of you can communicate. I will ask her if I can give her info to you as well.
6. The temperature control for the house is in your portion of the house, but the basement tenant must be comfortable as well, so you may want to check with her re. temperature setting. I want to avoid the basement tenant putting an electric heater in the basement if she is cold and your hydro bill paying for it.
I hope both of you can be happy in the house. Communication and consideration for each other is a must. I am sure you will like the basement tenant as you get to know her and she will like you. If there are any problems or you require anything, please let me know. The landlord Maria would prefer me handling things since they are very busy.
Spoke to the landlord last night. Apparently, the cause of the power failure for the garage door opener is because the cord to the door opener was pulled out (but not completely) from the the plug in the wall. Looks like, since it was parked beside the plug, the bicycle must have caught it or dislodged it. It cost the landlord $70 for the technician to come from downtown Toronto to look at the problem. The landlord says this should be paid by the tenant responsible. If this is your daughter’s bike, then it looks like it is your responsibility. Just passing along what was said to me. I wish someone had checked the cord and plug...that would have solved the problem. I am mad at myself for not saying to do that, although we did check the electric panel. It was a simple solution but cost the landlord. Tenants are responsible for any costs due to their negligence.
I would be grateful for your opinion on this....Thank you