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Definition of "Tenant"

Son declared "unauthorized occupant" after his mother passes away

After his mother became too ill to live on her own, an adult son and his young daughter moved in with her. The son paid rent to his mother. Following his mother's death three years later, the landlord applied to evict the son as an "unauthorized occupant". The Tribunal evicted the son on the basis that he was not the tenant (his deceased mother was) and denied a request to review this finding. This appeal raises the issue of the definition of "tenant." The appeal was heard on December 1, 2005. The Divisional Court dismissed the appeal finding that it had no jurisdiction. An appeal can only be made on a question of law and the Divisional Court in this case held that the tenant was attempting to appeal a question of mixed fact and law.

Woman declared "unauthorized occupant" after 17 years in her apartment

The Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples asked ACTO to co-counsel in a case where a woman and her three children were being evicted as unauthorized occupants after her husband, who signed the rent cheques, moved out of the apartment. The woman had lived in the unit for 17 years.

ACTO argued that the definition of tenant must be interpreted to include women who contribute to the household through the unpaid labour of childcare and housework, regardless of who signs the cheques, or who is listed as "tenant" on the landlord's documents. A human rights complaint was also filed.

Before the Tribunal could reach a decision, a settlement was reached and the woman was recognized as the sole tenant at the same rent. The human rights complaint was withdrawn.

Woman forced to sign new lease after husband vacates

ACTO was also retained by the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) to intervene in an Ottawa Divisional Court appeal with very similar facts to the case above. In this case, after the woman's husband had left, the landlord pressured her to sign a new lease at almost double the rent that her husband had paid. ACTO's appeal emphasized international human rights law and sex equality issues.

The appeal was successful, but the court did not address ACTO's equality arguments under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The landlord was ordered to repay the tenant what she had paid in excess of the original rent.