By Jeffrey Wang, November 27 2023—
Settling into university is often a challenging thing. For those who are moving out of halls (or never got into halls) and are moving into the rental market, things can quickly turn stressful. From evictions, extortionate agents and slumlords, the rental market is often filled with traps and pitfalls. It is doubly worse in Alberta, which has some of the least effective tenant protections in Canada.
However, tenants are not completely without protection and some rights are guaranteed by the Residential Tenancies Act, SA 2004, c R-17.1 (the Act). Often, the best way to stand up to a bullying landlord or agent is to show that you have a firm grasp of the law and know your rights. Let’s start with the most vital and stress-inducing part of renting: evictions.
Evictions or “a termination of tenancy” is probably the scariest thing you can face as a renter. Below, we will cover some of the more common forms of legal evictions (and what you can do to contest them) as well as the illegal evictions that landlords will try to push on unsuspecting tenants.
Legal Evictions: Fixed Term Tenancy
A “fixed term tenancy” is a tenancy for a term that has a specific end date in the agreement. Generally, it is very difficult for either tenant or landlord to break from a fixed-term tenancy.
S.15 of the Act: A fixed-term agreement can be ended when the contracted period ends.
S.29(1) of the Act: A landlord can end a fixed term agreement if they can prove that you have substantially breached the Tenant’s Covenant found at s.21 of the Act or made repeated breaches of your lease agreement. They must either serve you a 14-day notice that you can contest or appeal to the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) to have you removed. Generally, they must prove that a substantial breach had happened.
S.29(3) of the Act: Your landlord can serve notice to end a tenancy if you do not pay rent. If you pay the back rent before the deadline set by the notice they can no longer evict you.
S.30(1) of the Act: Your landlord can serve you a one day notice to evict if you assault someone on the property or cause significant damage.
Legal Evictions: Periodic Tenancy
A “periodic tenancy” is a tenancy that has a start date but no end date. All the legal grounds to terminate a fixed term tenancy with the exception of S.15 of the Act: “termination of tenancy due to end of fixed term agreement” applies.
S.12 of the Act: Your landlord can give a 180 days notice if they intend to convert the property you are renting to a condominium.
Some other legitimate forms of eviction are also permitted by the Residential Tenancies Ministerial (the Regulation). For these, the landlord must give notice depending on if your periodic tenancy is on a weekly (one week), monthly (three months) or yearly basis (three months before the last day of a tenancy year).
S.2(a) of the Regulation: Your landlord can give notice if they or a close family member intends to move into the property. This only includes family members by blood, marriage, and adoption. They must do this in good faith and cannot evict you and then re-rent it.
S.2(b) of the Regulation: Your landlord can give notice if they have agreed to sell the house and all condition precedent to the sale has been met. The purchaser or a relative must intend to move in after the sale and give written instruction to the landlord that they want to terminate the tenancy.
S.2(c) of the Regulation: Your landlord can give notice if they want to perform major renovations which require the building to be unoccupied or if they want to demolish the building.
S.2(d) of the Regulation: Your landlord can give notice if they want to convert a residential rental to non-residential purposes.
In general, your landlord must act in good faith and can not lie to their tenant. If a tenant discovers that a landlord has served them notice on false premises, they can potentially bring a suit with the RTDRS.
Understanding the tenancy law is complicated and evictions are tough to deal with alongside your studies. That is why you don’t have to deal with it by yourself. The Student Legal Assistance (SLA) based at the University of Calgary Law School can help UoC students fight illegal eviction cases for free.