1. What steps should Sally have undertaken prior to signing the lease?
2. What responsibilities does the landlord have towards Sally (in other words, can he just suggest she wear a sweater because the apartment is unreasonably cold)? Was he legally able to charge her $2,000 as a damage deposit?
Residential Tenancies Act and its applicability in Alberta
In Alberta, the Residential Tenancies Act applies to all the people in this jurisdiction, who rent their space out (Alberta Queen’s Printer, 2016). Through this act, the rights and responsibilities of the landlords and tenants are brought forward (Landlord and Tenant, 2015).
Before a tenant can move in the rented accommodation, the tenant and the landlord have to reach an agreement, with regards to the terms of their association by forming a contract which is known as the residential tenancy agreement, or the lease. By virtue of being a contract, it can be drawn in either an oral or a written manner; however, it is preferable to get the same in writing, to avoid any ambiguities. Once the agreement has been read in a thorough manner, the same has to be signed (Alberta Government, 2017). Hence, it was required on part of Sally to read the terms contained in the lease agreement. Ignoring them just because the landlord appeared to be a nice guy does not invalidate her responsibility to read the said document.
Along with this, it was required on the part of Sally to complete the inspection report, before she moved into the apartment. Inspection report is such a document which contains the details with regards to the rental property’s condition, before the tenant occupies such property (Alberta Government, 2015). By creating this report, the tenant cannot be held responsible for such damages which were already present before the tenant decided to occupy the premises. Another noteworthy requirement in this regard is the refusal on part of the landlord to carry out the repairs, with regards to the broken thermostat, which was the responsibility of the landlord. This refusal allows Sally to make application to the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service, for the following issues:
- The damages’ recovery;
- The reduction in the rent, so that the lost benefits could be made up for, which resulted from the failure of the landlord, in keeping his responsibilities;
- The end of the tenancy; and
- For the compensation of costs so that the obligation of the landlord can be fulfilled (Alberta Government, 2017).
The landlord has the responsibility of keeping the rented accommodation secure and with proper repairs at every time, and not just at the time when the accommodation was being rented (Alberta Government, 2017). Hence, in this case, it was crucial that the heating system was working when the landlord gave the accommodation on rent to Sally. A broken thermostat does not denote a good repair condition. Further, it was the duty of the landlord to make certain that once Sally moved in, the thermostat continued to be in working condition. Just to evade this responsibility, Sally cannot be asked to wear the sweater.
The tenant and landlord, both are required to create the move-in inspection report. Before Sally moved in, this report should be prepared by landlord and Sally and should have contained the issue regarding the hole in the wall. The deductions for damages or cleaning costs cannot be deducted from the security deposits when the premise is vacated by the tenant. Hence, the landlord cannot charge the damages from the damage deposit amounting to $2,000, which Sally deposited.
The above discussion highlights the obligation upon both the landlord and the tenant with regards to the property tenancy.
Alberta Government. (2015). Inspection Reports. Retrieved from: https://www.servicealberta.ca/pdf/RTA/Inspection_Reports.pdf
Alberta Government. (2017). Information for Tenants. Retrieved from: https://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/pdf/tipsheets/Information_for_tenants.pdf
Alberta Queen’s Printer. (2016). Residential Tenancies Act. Retrieved from: https://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/R17P1.pdf
Landlord and Tenant. (2015). Dispute Resolution. Retrieved from: https://www.landlordandtenant.org/dispute-resolution/
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