|Tenants who need to move because of domestic or sexual violence or abuse can now give their landlords just 28 days’ notice.
This month’s On the Radar outlines when and how tenants can use this new option.
Who can use the new 28-day notice
These recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act apply to tenants who normally must give 60 days’ notice to move at the end of a rental period or the end of their lease.
These tenants can use the new Form N15 to give 28 days’ notice at any time, if they or a child living with them have “experienced violence or another form of abuse”.
The tenant must also tell their landlord they’re in this situation using either:
The Tenant’s Statement tells the landlord that the tenant or a child living with them may be at risk of harm or injury by continuing to live in the rental unit. The law includes 2 types of risk.
The first type of risk is because the tenant or their child:
- has been harmed or their property has been damaged
- has been held against their will
- fears for their safety
This risk must be caused by any of the following people:
- the tenant’s spouse or former spouse
- someone the tenant lives with or has lived with in a marriage-like relationship
- someone the tenant is dating or used to date
- someone living in the rental unit who is related to the tenant or their child
The second type of risk is because the tenant or their child has been a victim of sexual violence by anyone.
This includes psychological violence or abuse, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, and sexual exploitation. It also includes threats and attempts.
The Tenant’s Statement does not tell the landlord which situation applies, who the abuser is, or whether the victim is the tenant or their child.
And the tenant does not have to give the landlord any other information about their situation.
Instead of the Tenant’s Statement, the tenant can give the landlord a copy of a peace bond or restraining order against a person on the list above.
But it can take time to get one of these kinds of orders and they include information that the tenant might not want their landlord to have.
Protecting the tenant’s privacy
The landlord and their staff must keep any papers that the tenant gives them completely confidential. They can’t tell anyone, including any other tenants in the unit.
And until the tenant moves out, the landlord is not allowed to advertise the unit in a way that could identify the unit or the tenant.
There are also ways that a tenant can protect their privacy if they go online to download forms or look for information about moving.
How to give 28 days’ notice
Along with the Tenant’s Statement or court order, the tenant must also give the landlord a Form N15 – Tenant’s Notice to End my Tenancy Because of Fear of Sexual or Domestic Violence and Abuse.
There’s information about the process on the Form N15, so it’s important for tenants to read it carefully before filling it out.
Other tenants in the unit
If there are other tenants in the rental unit, the tenant might choose to tell some or all of them what’s happening.
But the tenant should be careful only to tell people they trust. The law says the landlord must keep the information confidential. But this does not apply to roommates or neighbours.
If the tenant tells any of the other tenants and they also want to move out by the same date, the tenant can give them the option of signing the Form N15.
If the remaining tenants don’t sign it, they can continue to live in the unit or end the lease early by giving 60 days’ notice all together.
Tenants in subsidized housing
Tenants who have rent subsidies or are in rent-geared-to-income (RGI) units could lose their subsidy by moving out.
In some cases, they might qualify to be “fast-tracked” to get another unit. But if not, they might have to wait years for another subsidized unit.
Tenants in this situation might want to talk to their housing provider about their options.
Getting legal help
Tenants may be dealing with criminal, family, or child protection issues, related to the violence or abuse.
So, it can be important for them to get legal advice about how their rental situation might affect, or be affected by, these other issues.