Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Leg I Stand On

There have been some comments about our landlady and people wondering what our rights are and so I thought I'd clarify by posting the letter that we've submitted to her. It clearly outlines what our rights are and that we're well within them and that she doesn't have a leg to stand on. It's in her best interest to just let us go with our damage deposit.

Subject: Breach of Contract

Dear Susan*:

For some time now we've been without a proper source of heat in our apartment and our frequent requests for a solution have been ignored. We discovered that this year we have zero heat and with the extreme cold of the past week our apartment has become unlivable. Concerned about your pipes freezing we've been running an electric heater and using our oven to provide some sort of warmth. Both are additional costs to us and we've decided it's in our best interest to find a new place to live.

As you have not complied with the Landlord Obligations as outlined in the Alberta Residential Tenancies Act we are submitting 14 days notice and will vacate the apartment by 12:00 noon on January 1st. We have listed the obligations below as well as the actions we are legally allowed to take.

Landlord's obligations

  • Make the premises available for the tenant on the agreed move-in date.
  • Not to disturb the tenant's possession or peaceful enjoyment of the premises. This means that the landlord is not to bother the tenant beyond what is necessary to do the landlord's business.
  • Make sure the premises meet the minimum requirements set out in the Housing Regulation and the Minimum Housing and Health Standards under Alberta's Public Health Act at the beginning and during the tenancy. The Minimum Housing and Health Standards can be found on the Service Alberta website.
  • Complete move in-and move-out inspection reports and provide copies to the tenant.
Below is an excerpt from the Public Health Act

8. Heating Facilities
(a) All heating facilities within a housing premises are to be properly installed and maintained in good working condition, and be capable of safely and adequately heating all habitable rooms, bathrooms, and toilet rooms within the building to a temperature of ;
(i) at least 22°C(710F), or
(ii) maintained at a temperature of at least 22°C(710F) when the control of the supplied heat in a dwelling is the responsibility of a person other than the occupant.

(b) When the outside temperature is colder than the winter design temperature as referenced in the Alberta Building Code(97) Section and Appendix C, then the Executive Officer may permit an indoor temperature of less than 22°C(710F) but greater than 16°C (600F). (Without the use of extra heaters our temperature sits below 10°C)
(c) Cooking appliances and portable space heaters shall not be used as the primary source for the required heat to a habitable room.
(d) Every owner of a housing premises shall ensure a continuous supply of electricity, water and heat unless the rental agreement stipulates that such utility services are the sole responsibility of the occupant.

Voluntary Code of Practice - Alberta's Residential Tenancies Act

Termination for substantial breach by landlord
28 (1) A tenant may apply to a court to terminate the tenancy or may terminate the tenancy by serving the landlord with a notice at least 14 days before the day that the tenancy is to terminate where
(a) the landlord commits a substantial breach of the residential tenancy agreement, and
(b) an executive officer has issued an order under section 62 of the Public Health Act in respect of the circumstances that constitute the substantial breach, and the tenant believes on reasonable grounds that the landlord has failed to comply with the order.
(2) The notice must
(a) be in writing,
(b) be signed by the tenant,
(c) set out the reasons for the termination, and
(d) set out the termination date.

We expect our full damage deposit back and we are prepared to follow the necessary steps to ensure it is received in a timely manner. We have put a stop-payment on all remaining cheques and would like them returned. We're happy to give access to our apartment for viewing with potential renters as long as 24 hour notice is given.

We respectfully request that all further communication be conducted in writing, either as a letter or an email and we've included all necessary contact information. Thank you very much.

Brad & Laura Wiebe

*Names have been changes to protect the identity of our really crappy landlady.


Jbear said...

Very well written. I don't understand how she could refuse your lawful request.