Tenant’s Rights of Entry, Quiet Enjoyment, and Privacy (19:IX)
A. Right of Entry
Section 29 of the RTA provides that a landlord may not enter a rental unit except where:
- an emergency exists and the entry is necessary to protect life or property;
- the tenant consents at the time of entry;
- the tenant gives either written or verbal consent to enter for a specific purpose one month or less prior to entry;
- where the occupation is by a hotel tenant, the entry is for the purpose of providing maid service at reasonable times;
- the tenant abandons the rental unit;
- the landlord gives written notice of entry for a specified “reasonable purpose” between 30 days and at least 24 hours before the time of entry (s 29(1)(b)). The landlord must arrange a specific time between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. to enter, unless otherwise agreed by the tenant. Note that the clock starts ticking when the tenant receives the notice to enter, not the time when the landlord gives it. The 24 hours starts right away when a landlord hand delivers the notice; 3 days later when it is delivered by fax or by posting on the tenant’s door, or five days later when sent by regular or registered mail;
- the landlord has an Arbitrator’s order authorizing the entry.
B. Quiet Enjoyment
Section 28 of the RTA provides protection of tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment. A tenant’s right includes but is not limited to:
- reasonable privacy;
- freedom from unreasonable disturbance;
- exclusive possession of the rental unit subject only to the landlord’s right to enter the rental unit in accordance with s 29 (landlord’s right to enter rental unit restricted); and
- use of common area for reasonable and lawful purposes, free from significant interference.
Arbitrators may not be particularly generous in assessing noise complaints. While tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment, they also have a duty not to disturb other tenants or landlords who also have a right to quiet enjoyment. There is no reciprocal right. However, a landlord may end a tenancy for Cause with one month’s notice if a tenant unreasonably disturbs the landlord or other occupants of the building.
C. Duty to Provide Access
Under RTA, ss 30(1) and (2), but subject to s 31, once a tenant has taken possession of a rental unit, a landlord is not allowed to change the locks to the rental unit or property without first getting the tenant’s permission and providing a new key. The landlord cannot change the locks or alter the means of access to the rental unit without the tenant’s permission. On the request of a tenant at the beginning of a new tenancy agreement, the landlord must re-key or change the locks to the rental unit: see [[Moving in and Residential Tenancies (19:V) | Section V: Moving In]. A landlord cannot restrict access if a tenant has failed to pay rent.
1. Tenant: Changing the Locks
If the landlord changes the locks in contravention of s 31 of the RTA, the Arbitrator may grant an order authorizing the tenant to change the locks. Also, if a tenant applies for dispute resolution, an Arbitrator can grant permission to allow the tenant to change the locks, and give the tenant the right to withhold a copy of a key from the landlord if the Arbitrator is satisfied that the landlord may contravene s 31. It should be noted that changing a lock without an order can be grounds for eviction. To change the lock legally, the tenant must follow the procedure set out in RTA, s 31(2).
D. Cash Payment Rules
Section 26(1) provides that a landlord must provide a tenant with a receipt for rent paid in cash. If a tenant makes a cash payment and receives no receipt, the tenant should send a letter to the landlord confirming the payment, or pay with a witness present.
E. Personal Property: Non-Payment of Rent
Whether or not a tenant pays rent in accordance with the tenancy agreement, a landlord must not seize any personal property of the tenant, or prevent or interfere with the tenant’s access to the tenant’s personal property (RTA, s 26(3)). The only exceptions are if the landlord has a court order authorizing the action, or if the tenant has abandoned the rental unit and the landlord complies with the regulations: see RTA ss (4)(a) and (b).
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