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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.
This topic discusses the rights of landlords and tenants during an eviction. The Information in this topic applies only to residential tenancies. If you are unsure as to your status contact your local Landlord Tenant Advisory Board.
A landlord may only terminate a tenancy that is not in substantial breach for very specific reasons. These include the following:
- the landlord or relative of the landlord intends to live in the premises
- the landlord is selling the premises
- the landlord is demolishing or making major renovations to the premises
- the landlord intends to use or rent the premises for a non-residential purpose
- the landlord intends to condominiumize the unit.
The Residential Tenancies Act and its regulations should be referred to for more detail as to these reasons. If one of these reasons apply, a tenant is entitled to varying amounts of notice depending on the type of tenancy. A yearly tenant is entitled to a period of 90 days before the last day of the tenancy year. A monthly tenant must receive 3 months notice and a weekly tenant is entitled to 1 weeks’ notice. The notice must:
- be in writing
- set out the reasons for which the tenancy is being terminated
- identify the premises
- state the date on which the tenancy is to terminate
- be signed.
The notice must then be served on the tenants either by delivering it in person or by having it delivered by registered or certified mail.
If one of the reasons stated in the Act do not apply, a landlord may only evict a tenant for a “substantial breach.” This breach can be a failure to meet any or a number of obligations of a residential tenant. These obligations are to:
- pay the rent when due,
- keep the premises reasonably clean,
- not to interfere with the rights of the landlords or other tenants (such as loud parties at night),
- not to carry illegal businesses on the premises (such as selling drugs),
- not to cause danger to others (such as carelessness with flammable items),
- not to allow damage other than normal wear and tear and to vacate the premises at the end of the tenancy.
In case of substantial breach, the notice period is 14 days. Notice must be in writing, signed, state the details of the breach, and the date by which the tenant must leave. If the breach is a failure to pay rent, the tenant may pay the arrears within the 14 days period and the notice becomes ineffective. In any event, the tenant is entitled to disagree with the landlord’s complaints and to serve the landlord, within the 14 days, with a Notice of Objection. The Notice of Objection must be in writing, and state the reasons for objecting. The 14 days notice then becomes ineffective and the matter must be settled between the landlord and tenant by going to Court to have the Judge decide if the tenant can remain or must leave.
If the tenant does either of the following:
- does or permits significant damage to the premises;
- physically assaults the landlord or other tenants;
the landlord can then apply to the Court to terminate the tenancy on 48 hours notice. This notice must contain the same elements discussed earlier. If the tenant does not vacate in 48 hours, the landlord must again apply to the Court to get an order terminating the tenancy. It is at Court that the tenant has the opportunity to tell his side of the story.
Distress is another remedy available to a landlord when there are outstanding arrears of rent.
Distress allows the landlord to request a Civil Enforcement Agency to come to the rented premises and seize certain of the tenant’s possessions. The Civil Enforcement Agency may remove the goods to a storage facility, or leave them at the premises on a legal undertaking of the tenant to care for them until the matter is resolved. The landlord can then apply to the Court for permission to remove the goods and sell them at an auction. The money from the sale will be used to pay the rental arrears, any storage costs, and the court costs of the eviction and seizure. Any excess is returned to the tenant.
If the tenant pays the rental arrears any time prior to the Court issuing the order for Removal and Sale, the Distress is void and the seizure is lifted.
In conclusion, a landlord can only terminate the tenancy for specific reasons which are those set out in the Residential Tenancies Act and Regulations. If there is a breach of the lease or residential tenancy agreement, the landlord can terminate the tenancy on 14 days notice, or 48 hours notice if the tenant permits or does substantial damage to the premises or assaults the landlord or other tenants. It should be noted that if the tenant objects to a 14 day notice the landlord must still go to Court and no objection is allowed to the 48 hours notice however, the landlord must still go to Court to get an order to evict the tenant. It is here that the tenant can make his/her side of the story known.