What are the right steps to take when dealing with a hoarding tenant?
Landlords usually cannot just evict a tenant for hoarding. There is no law against having too much stuff. Similarly, there is no law against being dirty.
However, if the hoarding reaches a point where it substantially interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of the other tenants of the rental complex, or constitutes a health or safety hazard, then there might be grounds to apply to the Ontario Landlord & Tenant Board for an eviction order.
All residential tenancies in Ontario are regulated by the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, which provides that a landlord may pursue an early termination only in the following circumstances:
- Where a tenant fails to pay rent;
- Where a tenant knowingly misrepresents their income;
- Where a tenant commits and illegal act in the rental unit;
- Where a tenant causes undue damage to the rental unit;
- Where the tenant conducts herself in a matter that substantially interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of the landlord or other tenants of the rental complex;
- Where the tenant engages in an act that seriously impairs the safety of another person;
- Where the number of persons occupying the rental complex contravenes health or safety standards;
- Where a tenant transfers occupation of the unit to another person other than by an assignment or subletting authorized by the landlord; or
- Where the landlord and tenant consent.
In all cases, the landlord must serve a notice of termination and then apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an eviction order. A tenant cannot be evicted without an order from the Board.
It is important for landlords to keep in mind that if the hoarding is the manifestation of a psychological disability, then the tenant may be entitled to protection under the Ontario Human Rights Code, which provides that every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to the occupancy of accommodation, without discrimination because of disability.
Accordingly, even if the landlord can establish that an eviction order should be issued based on the foregoing, if a tenant can establish that he or she suffers from a disability they will be entitled to continue to occupy the rental unit unless the landlord can show that permitting them to do so would cause undue hardship.
Practically speaking, if a landlord has a tenant whose hoarding has become an issue, it is recommended that the landlord be careful to document the matter as carefully as possible. This does not mean that the landlord can simply enter into the rental unit to poke around and take pictures. Rather, they should keep careful notes of any occasion on which the hoarding or its effects are brought to their attention or the attention of other tenants.
It is also recommended that a landlord who is dealing with a hoarding tenant consult a lawyer.
Christopher Statham, B.A. (Hons.), is a lawyer at Devry Smith Frank LLP Lawyers & Mediators.