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Beware of using hurtful or insulting language toward a tenant

Beware of using hurtful or insulting language toward a tenant

Requests for reparations to an apartment made by a tenant may often appal the landlord. We admit that tenants often display a cavalier attitude when requesting reparations to their apartment and insisting [on obtaining them] in an excessive manner. Never mind their faulty attitude, landlords must remain very diligent in their verbal exchanges with their tenant.

First case

Recently, the Rental Board has sentenced certain landlords to pay damage-interests to their tenant following certain insults. In the first case, a representative of the landlord, following urgent demands from the tenants, said what follows: « We will not paint the doors, I have had it with your requests, you imagine you are renting a castle for what you are paying. »

The tenant declares before the Régie du logement that he and his spouse had felt humiliated and discriminated by such expressions, considering their social condition. Then living in a difficult financial situation the whole family saw itself forced to huddle up in a small apartment and these painful words had only added to their feelings of failure and impotence.

Reminiscing the words pronounced by his employee the landlord explains these by a somewhat deficient education of the latter and confirms having warned his employee to always remain polite with the tenants.

The Rental Board considered that the granting of an amount of 300 $ is just and reasonable for the discrimination based on the social condition and an additional amount of 200 $ for having caused moral distress to the tenant and his spouse with those hurtful words: « Moreover, the Court may conclude that the landlord’s employee has used dis- graceful and hurtful language towards the tenant’s wife when the latter tried to have her rights respected in June of 2003, remarks which cannot be excused by a lack of education as the landlord tries to make him understand. These remarks which result from discriminatory conduct based on the social condition of the tenant, have undermined the right to dignity recognized by article 5 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the individual and depart, according to the Court, from ordinary rules of good conduct.1 »

Second case

A landlord exasperated and appalled by the demands of two tenants has been arrogant on several occasions by calling them « fat cow, old rag and sow ». He also said that « they should lick his feet if they wanted him to do the reparations ». The Régie has sentenced the landlord to 2 000 $ of damage considering that it was not the first time that the landlord had been sentenced in this matter for having made similar remarks.

« These remarks have indeed not been denied by the landlord, who has even excused himself for them at the hearing. Moreover, the landlord’s remarks stating that « they should lick his feed if they wanted him to do the works » allow us to believe that he did not really have the intention to do the reparations. The Court must sanction such behaviour which visibly aimed at restraining peaceful enjoyment of the premises or to obtain that the tenants departed.2 »

The Rental Board has acknowledged the landlord to be reponsible of harassment in virtue of article 1902 of the Civil Code of Quebec.

1 31 040423 502 G

2 31 030513 028 G

About the author

Me Robert Soucy, avocat

Me Robert Soucy, auparavant régisseur devant la Régie du Logement du Québec, membre du Barreau du Québec depuis 1979, oeuvre auprès des propriétaires depuis 1984.

Il a donné de nombreuses conférences autant pour le Barreau du Québec que les membres de l'Association des propriétaires du Québec. Ainsi qu'écrit des articles dans le mensuel "Le Propriétaire".

Avocat connu et reconnu, il représente les propriétaires de logements locatifs devant la Régie du logement et devant diverses médias.

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