Photo C/O Catherine Goce
It’s that time of the year where everyone is looking for a place to rent. Searching for off-campus housing is a source of headache for many students. But what students shouldn’t have to worry about is invasions of their privacy.
As of now, my landlord could text me saying he has a viewing for the house within the next hour and he’d be allowed to enter the property. Why? According to Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, once tenants have given notice to terminate their tenancy, landlords are allowed to show prospective tenants the property so long as they make a “reasonable effort to inform the current tenants of their intentions to do so”.
The ambiguity of “reasonable effort” allows landlords to barely give any notice that they will enter the property. It even states in Section 26 that this “reasonable effort” does not have to be within 24 hours’ notice. Though this is technically legal, it serves as a major inconvenience to tenants who cannot be expected to schedule their day around frequent and inconsistent house showings.
Beyond a mere inconvenience, allowing landlords to enter student-rented property essentially whenever they wish to do so can be seen as a threat to student safety. Without adequate notice, students may have not have time to secure their valuables or ensure that they are not in compromising positions.
Students are in especially vulnerable positions, many of whom are not well-versed in their rights and may even be minors.
Although it may very well be in the best interest of students to allow their landlord to show the property to prospective tenants — as the sooner the new lease is signed, the sooner the invasions of privacy can stop — it does not excuse the blatant disrespect that students have to endure when their landlords appear at odd hours of the day with little notice.
The only requirement of landlords when showing the property to prospective tenants, besides “reasonable effort to inform”, is that they must enter between the times of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. This should barely be considered a requirement as that timeframe basically cover the entirety of waking hours.
Realistically, appointments for house showings are made well in advance of 24 hours. As such, landlords should be mandated to inform tenants at least 24 hours in advance prior to entering the property, as they are required to in almost any other situation.
In fact, as it stands, landlords can only enter the property without giving 24-hour notice in cases of emergency, under the tenant’s consent, where the tenancy agreement allows for the landlord to enter the property within specified times to clean or during property showings.
While the other situations make sense, as with the exception of an emergency, they require the tenant’s consent, there is no reason to not give tenant’s 24-hour notice before property showings.
Beyond such a requirement being in the best interests for the tenants, giving adequate notice can benefit the landlord as it gives the tenants time to clean the property and make it look presentable.
The government should seriously consider revisiting their tenancies act in order to make these changes. This not only affects students, but tenants across Ontario.