Before You Pack Up and Go…
Before you pack up and get out….
I recently learned of a tenant who was living in a tent at one of the local parks. This particular tenant had signed a “one-year lease agreement” and lived in the rental unit for the full year. When the year was up, the landlord indicated he wanted to raise the rent and since the year’s agreement was ended, demanded the tenant leave immediately. The tenant, believing the landlord was in the right, complied.
These stories are not unique. There is seldom a week that goes by where one of our clinic staff encounters this kind of situation.
Very often, tenants rely on the goodwill of landlords and when they are told to leave…they leave, believing this to be their only recourse. This is not always the case.
When someone is served with what is called an N7 or N5 notice, there is a section on this form that indicates that the tenant must vacate the unit within ten days of being served. This is a legal document, which must be used by the landlord as step one in order to initiate step two, which is an application to terminate the lease. If step one is not done, step two is not accessible to the landlord. Step one however is not binding on the tenant to take any action such as vacating. What it does do is bring to focus what the problem is and it gives time to the tenant to rectify the problem.
Unless a tenant is served with an application- (step two) - to terminate a tenancy and it contains a date, time and telephone number to access the Tenant Board, then the tenant should take no action, especially vacating the unit in question. An order must be issued by the Tenant Board for any landlord to take legitimate and legal steps to evict a tenant.
Many tenants today leave first and ask questions later. This is too late to protect one’s rights and before a tenant makes a move and leaves their rental, they should consult with a legal clinic or the Tenant Board office to ensure that their rights are not being ignored or undermined.
As the vacancy rate decreases in our area, some landlords see an opportunity to turn over tenants and raise rents. In some cases, this is not just or legal.
It is best to consult with someone who knows the law prior to accepting any demand or written order by the landlord.
If you have any questions about the Landlord and Tenant Act, please contact the Elliot Lake and North Shore Community Legal Clinic in the ELNOS building at 461-3935 or via its website at www.northshorelegal.ca