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Beaufort Delta
Housing

What restrictions can NWT landlords place on tenants’ guests?


Landlords in the Northwest Territories have no power to decide who gets to visit a tenant, the territory’s rental officer has emphasized.

At the foot of a recent ruling regarding noise complaints at an Inuvik home, rental officer Adelle Guigon took steps to underline a landlord’s inability to interfere with visits.

A young single mother was alleged to be responsible for repeated disturbances like “loud music, arguments, crying and banging around” during the late evening and early morning, some of which were said to involve children running, jumping and yelling.

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Many of those disturbances did not involve visitors, but discussion of guests during the hearing prompted Guigon to dwell on the subject.

“During this hearing, reference was regularly made to the respondent [the tenant] having been told by the applicant [the landlord] that she had to ask for permission to have any guests during quiet hours, and that she was not allowed to have certain visitors,” Guigon wrote.

“A landlord does not have the authority to dictate whether or not, or when, a tenant may have guests at their rental premises. Nor does a landlord have the authority to dictate how many guests a tenant may have at any particular time.

“However, the tenant who does have guests accepts responsibility for their guests’ behaviour while they are on the property and, as such, is responsible for any disturbances or damages caused by their guests.”

In the case in question, one visitor – identified as the tenant’s ex-boyfriend – was said to have punched a wall and thrown beer in the tenant’s face during an argument.

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The tenant said the ex-boyfriend was sending a written apology to the landlord, accepting responsibility for the damaged wall.

“While I appreciate that the damage was caused by the ex-boyfriend,” Guigon wrote, “I am satisfied that the respondent is responsible for the disturbance that was caused because she did permit the ex-boyfriend to enter the premises.”

Situation ‘already difficult’

The tenant herself had apologized in writing to the landlord for the disturbances as a whole. At the hearing, Guigon wrote, the tenant said she was “doing her best to discipline” her young children but did not “want to keep them from being the children they are,” particularly during pandemic-related restrictions in an extremely cold winter. (The hearing related to a period in which a range of NWT restrictions were in effect.)

The tenant added she had an “obsessive compulsion” to keep her home clean, Guigon continued, which led to her moving furniture late in the evening to clean after the children were in bed.

Guigon said she appreciated the the difficulties of raising children in those circumstances, but ultimately found the disturbances were sufficiently frequent and severe that terminating the tenancy would be justified.

“The recurring arguments with persons the respondent lets into the building are one thing but, combined with the constant moving of furniture and continuous disruptive behaviour of the children, aggravate a situation that is already difficult for everyone because of the pandemic and weather-related restrictions,” Guigon wrote.

“I am satisfied the respondent is responsible for the described disturbances and their effect on neighbouring tenants, in particular the tenants living in the unit directly below the respondent’s.”

Even so, Guigon ruled that the tenant deserved a final opportunity to minimize the disruption to others.

“The respondent’s recent success at minimizing those disturbances convinces me that the termination order should be conditional,” she said.

“The condition for termination will be dependent on reducing the frequency of all substantial disturbances to no more than three occurrences over the next three months.”

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