Can a Landlord Be Fined For Evicting a Tenant Under the Guise of Doing Renovations?
When a Tenant Is Asked to Leave For Renovation Reasons, The Landlord Must Offer a Right to Return. Failure to Do So May Result In a Fine.
When a tenant is asked to vacate to enable the landlord to perform renovations to the rental unit, the tenant must be provided with an offer to reserve the right to return to the rental unit when renovation work is complete. The tenant must have a right to return at a rent rate that is the same or that is allowable per the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, Chapter 17 (the "RTA") which states:
Tenant’s Right of First Refusal, repair or renovation
53 (1) A tenant who receives notice of termination of a tenancy for the purpose of repairs or renovations may, in accordance with this section, have a right of first refusal to occupy the rental unit as a tenant when the repairs or renovations are completed.
(2) A tenant who wishes to have a right of first refusal shall give the landlord notice in writing before vacating the rental unit.
Rent to be Charged
(3) A tenant who exercises a right of first refusal may reoccupy the rental unit at a rent that is no more than what the landlord could have lawfully charged if there had been no interruption in the tenant’s tenancy.
Change of Address
(4) It is a condition of the tenant’s right of first refusal that the tenant inform the landlord in writing of any change of address.
How Much Is a Potential Fine For a Renoviction?
Section 57(3)3 of the RTA, provides that the Landlord Tenant Board may Order that a landlord pay a maximum fine up equal to the jurisdictional limit of the Small Claims Court (which is $35,000.00 effective January 1 2020). Furthermore, in circumstances where a landlord engaged in multiple violations of the RTA, a fine for each violation may be imposed. Recently, per A.B., et al (Tenants) v. 795 College Inc. (Landlord), TST-90503-17 (Re), 2019 CanLII 87012 (ON LTB), which involved violation of the rights of three tenants, a $25,000 fine was issued for each occurrence (a $75,000 total) and wherein it was said:
77. In light of the above, I find that the appropriate fines in this case would be $45,000.00 per rental unit. Since those amounts exceed the maximum, fines of $25,000.00 will be awarded in respect of each unit, for a total of $75,000.00 in fines.
A landlord should refrain from engaging in conduct that may be deemed a 'renoviction' by providing a tenant, or tenants, with a clear and concise notice containing an offer to reserve the right to return to the rental unit when renovations are complete. Failure to provide the opportunity to reserve the right to return, if shown as done so in bad faith, may result in significant fines, among other things, as imposed by Order of the Landlord Tenant Board.