There are certain types of situations where landlord and tenant may need to involve lawyers in a dispute. When this happens, it is important to know your rights as a tenant.
Your Province’s Tenancy Board
In Canada, the law concerning renting a home is a provincial responsibility. Each province has a board or society that protects the rights of tenants and landlords. Some rules, such as those concerning rent increases, deposits, or pets, change from one province to another. For example, in Quebec a landlord is not allowed to ask for first and last month’s rent, while in other provinces, this is an acceptable request.
Know Your Tenant Act
Even though certain rules change from one province to another, the basic obligations for a landlord and tenant are the same Canada-wide. These rules are published in your province’s Tenant Act which is available through your tenant board. If you know what your rights and obligations are, you can’t be taken advantage of. If you feel you are unjustly accused of something, a consultation of the act can clarify the issue.
Resolving Conflict with the Tenancy Board
Most disputes between tenants and landlords are resolved by your province’s tenancy board. This board is similar to a court, and will organise mediation or hearings to resolve conflict. Sometimes a tenant or landlord doesn’t feel comfortable enough representing themselves. He/she is allowed to have a lawyer at any hearings with the tenancy board.
If your tenant or landlord is not meeting his or her obligations, you must file a complaint with the board. There will be an initial conference with a board member so that the facts surrounding the issue can be brought to the board’s attention. Then a hearing will be held and a decision will be made.
During a process like this, it is important to have as much concrete proof as possible surrounding your issue. Keep a file of all notices given or received by the landlord. Keep receipts for any expenses you shouldn’t have made. Write down any important conversations that took place, and take pictures of any damaged property that must come to the board’s attention.
Taking it to Court
If you don’t agree with the board’s decision, then you may bring the dispute to a regular provincial court. At this point you will need a lawyer who has a background in tenancy law to file a court motion for a hearing before a judge and to help represent you during the court hearing. Again, it is important to have as much proof surrounding the issue. This will help your lawyer represent you in court.