Rent is Non-Negotiable

I really love when my blogs write themselves.

I do very little residential Landlord and Tenant work, but when I do, it’s interesting. 

Prior to serving a landlord’s “N” notice on a Tenant for rent arrears, one of our clients prefers we take a softer approach of demanding payment by way of a demand letter, rather than the official LTB Form.

I’ve been dealing with a particular tenant for quite some time, and usually (according to them), rent has paid late because of banking glitches.

After failing to pay rent for 4 months, and failing to respond to our demand letters,  our client has finally instructed us to serve the Tenant with an N4, being a notice that ends the tenancy for non-payment of Rent.  Should the tenant fail to pay by the date on the Notice, an Application to terminate the tenancy is brought.

Upon receipt of the N4, the tenant made the accusation that the N4 was in retaliation for the tenant’s “pending litigation.”  Am I psychic?  Did I know of this litigation that is pending, but has not yet commenced?  Perhaps the N4 is in response to the almost $20,000.00 in rent arrears they owe, but I digress.

The Tenant alleges negligence which resulted in alleged health issues as justification to stop paying rent, which they continue to reside at without payment of rent.  For the record, we are not talking about an average tenant in average rental unit.  The tenant is a sophisticated businessperson, and the unit can be described as more of a luxury property.

The Tenant has never made any allegations against our client for negligence, nor have they ever complained about health issues in the almost one-year back and forth with them about paying rent.

Some tenants are under the impression that they can stop paying rent for whatever reason they choose.  Rent in Ontario is non-negotiable.  The only way you can legally stop paying is if the Landlord and Tenant Board tells you can.   

It would also help if the tenant raised their issues with the landlord and/or their representative when they arise and not when the Landlord serves you with a Notice for failing to pay rent for months.  How is the Landlord supposed to remedy any issues if they’re not aware of them?

To legally stop paying rent in Ontario, the Tenant would be required to bring an Application before the Board to determine their rights.  Some tenants wait to complain at the Landlord’s Application hearing where the Landlord is obtaining an Order to evict the tenant, and at that time, it’s too late.

Failing to pay rent, and staying silent on your issues is not the appropriate way to deal with your issues with your landlord.  You can end up looking for a new home.

Murray Brown, Licensed Paralegal