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RTA - Definitions - "Vacant"

. Minas v. Adler

In Minas v. Adler (Div Court, 2022) the Divisional Court considered when a rental unit is 'vacant' [particularly, that it excludes situations "where a landlord moves into a rental unit after having illegally terminated an otherwise legal tenancy": para 66]:
[63] The Landlords submit that the Member’s interpretation of the term “vacant” is not consistent with the typical meaning ascribed to that word, that is “being empty” or some derivative of that notion. Because the Landlords had moved back into the premises, the Member could not have found the premises to be “vacant”.

[64] The Landlords further submit that punitive remedies short of recovered possession are available to the Board in situations where a landlord illegally terminates a tenancy and takes possession of a rental unit. As such, the Landlord’s suggested interpretation would not leave the Board without the ability to impose a deterrent upon nefarious landlords. 

[65] I disagree with this submission. 

[66] First, the term “vacant” must be “read in [its] entire context, in [its] grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament". As noted above, one of the purposes of the RTA is to “to provide protection for residential tenants from unlawful rent increases and unlawful evictions”. To read “vacant” in a literal or absolute sense, as was submitted by the Landlords, would permit landlords to profit from illegally evicting tenants. Indeed, one can easily imagine a situation where, in a tight rental market, a landlord could illegally end a tenancy and then move into the unit. The tenant in this example could be rendered homeless as a result of the landlord’s illegal actions and the Board would have no ability to give possession of the rental unit back to the blameless tenant. This result runs contrary to the purposes of the RTA which include protecting tenants from unlawful convictions. The Landlords’ suggested interpretation of the term “vacant” in s. 31(3) of the RTA cannot, therefore, be accepted. Rather, the term “vacant” must exclude situations where a landlord moves into a rental unit after having illegally terminated an otherwise legal tenancy. The Member was correct in making this finding.


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Last modified: 02-04-23
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