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Do I have Grounds for Breaking my Rental Lease in Alberta?

Do I have Grounds for Breaking my Rental Lease in Alberta? Topic: Cigarette case small
June 17, 2019 / By Destinee
Question: My boyfriend and I moved into a place November 1st and signed a one year lease. Shortly after moving in, we realized that our unit constantly smelled like cigarette smoke. When we asked the landlords what was going on, they admitted the tenants in the basement smoke (chain smokers) in their unit and they have allowed it. My boyfriend and I are both non smokers and I, myself, am especially struggling with this. We have brought it up with the landlords and they have stated that they cannot tell the people in the basement to stop smoking nor should we expect them to because they have lived there for a year before us. They did speak with the people in the basement and have asked them to open a window while smoking but it has not helped. I have personally purchased small filters for each of the vents and have placed Bounce Sheets on the filters to combat the smell (it lasted about 3 days). We have also purchased 2 air purifiers totaling over $800 (the landlords paid half of one - a total of $250). This helps a little, but not much as we are unable to have both air purifiers constantly running on full power due to the noise. I have had the landlords come to the house to smell it and they claim that they can't smell anything and they never had a problem with it before because the previous tenants before us never complained. I have asthma and am allergic to cigarette smoke not to mention EVERYTHING I own stinks of smoke (including my clothes - and I will admit, I am very self conscious about this). Recently, I have been able to smell marijuana a few times. Prior to moving in, neither my boyfriend or I realized that there were even smokers in the building. The day of the walk through I asked my boyfriend (I was at work) to ask the Landlord if the people in the basement smoked and he was never given a straight answer. It was only until after we had handed over the already signed lease agreement (on the day we were getting our keys to move in) that we were told that it is, in fact, the people in the basement and was not the people who lived in our unit prior. I told the landlords that I would no longer bring up the issue because I felt that we had done everything we could and the landlords were being compliant but they also made me feel like I was constantly complaining and that I was bothering them. However, after living here for 2.5 months, I have reached my breaking point. Are you able to answer the following questions for me?: In this situation, what are our rights and responsibilities as tenants? What are our landlords rights and responsibilities? Do we have grounds to break our lease under the Residential Tenant Act or the Health and Safety Act? (I work in the medical field and know how dangerous second hand smoke is let alone second hand smoke with asthma and allergies) If we are unable to break our lease, is there anything we can do? Thank you so much for your time! :o)
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Best Answers: Do I have Grounds for Breaking my Rental Lease in Alberta?

Camryn Camryn | 4 days ago
Being a non-smoker myself and allergic to cigarette smoke I completely understand your predicament. Unfortunately there are no laws in Alberta [yet] that forbid a tenant to smoke in his own apartment. However, at issue is your right to a safe and healthy environment. Your landlord has a legal obligation to provide this. The cigarette smoke that is infiltrating your apartment is obviously getting in through somewhere. This may be through the electrical wall sockets, through the walls under the sinks in the kitchen and bathroom where the plumbing comes out of the wall. If you have hot water heating it will come up through the holes where the pipes come out. I say this from personal experience. Go to the following link where you will find what the minimum housing criteria are: http://www.health.alberta.ca/documents/Standards-Housing-Minimum.pdf The primary intent of the Minimum Housing and Health Standards is to establish minimum conditions which are essential to good health and which make housing premises safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation. The key word here is "habitation" which means a room that is intended to be used for sleeping, living, cooking or eating purposes but does not include a lobby, hallway, closet, toilet room, bathroom, corridor, laundry or storage space. If you can establish that in your particular case remaining there poses a health risk to you rendering the premises unsafe for habitation then you will be on legal grounds to terminate the lease. I say terminate as opposed to breaking your lease. Breaking a lease results in penalties. Terminating a lease is legal and without penalties. Unless your landlord is able to "seal" every hole where the smoke is coming through [not impossible but difficult] then I'm not sure he is going to be able to do much for you except offer you other accommodations in the building or agree to terminate the lease. Do the following: 1. Read the link above and familiarize yourself with its contents 2. Ask the landlord what he can do to seal off your suite [this includes the entry door so smoke from the hallway doesn't seep in] 3. Ask him to release you from the lease without penalty if he cannot solve the problem. He has the option of doing this. If he does you are home free 4. If he refuses to release you then file a complaint with the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/869.cfm If you file a formal complaint you will be advised on what the process is. After both sides present their arguments, a ruling will be made. Seriously consider going to arbitration on the grounds that you are having to live in an unhealthy environment and have done everything to mitigate the problem by investing hundreds of dollars of your own money. And remember that the smoking pot is illegal and a violation of the residential tenancy agreement [unless for medicinal purposes]. The landlord can and should be evicting the tenant for doing this if you have brought it to his attention. This would also be further grounds for terminating the lease since the landlord is not enforcing the terms and conditions of the lease for the mutual benefit of all concerned. You have reasonable grounds to complain about these issues. If the landlord is making you feel like you are bothering him and always complaining don't allow him to lay this guilt trip on you. This is his problem and you have every legal right to expect him to deal with it. You are paying good hard earned money. As an aside, there are two comments that you have made that weaken your position significantly in my opinion: "Prior to moving in, neither my boyfriend or I realized that there were even smokers in the building." "we were told that it is, in fact, the people in the basement and was not the people who lived in our unit prior." On the one hand you are saying that you and your boyfriend did not even realize that there were smokers in the building. In the next sentence it was clarified for you that in fact it was the people below you who were the smokers and not the previous tenants who lived in your suite. Why would the landlord have to assure you that it was not the previous tenants unless your boyfriend had some sort of suspicion because he could smell cigarette smoke during the walk through and was wondering if it was the previous tenants? I do not know if you have carpets in your place but if the cigarette is as bad as you say [and I'm not doubting it] one would assume that there would be significant odor during the walk through. Just something to think about. :)
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Camryn Originally Answered: How can I get out of my rental lease?
If you've had problems for over two years, why did you renew your lease? Send a written request regarding the flooded basement to the landlord via certified mail (if you haven't already). I would take dated photographs of the flooded basement from the beginning - so that you could show that the basement was indeed flooded for "x" amount of time in court, if needed. You will also need a copy of the letter that you sent the landlord - so that you have proof that your landlord was contacted about the problem. False advertising is hard to prove and can be written off as an error many times. If your lease states that your apartment has a working dishwasher and working washer/dryer hookups, then I would inform the landlord that he/she is not following through with their side of the lease and request (in writing via certified mail) that these items need to be fixed within 30 days or you will terminate the lease. If you are truly concerned about your wife's condition and the flooded basement, then have her stay at a family member or friend's house - or - rent a motel/hotel room for the time being (although any or all of these can be just as compromised for her immune system). I would assume that you have fully cleaned and sanitized the home and have special air filters, etc. for her immune-compromised condition -- if so, take photos for the judge of what her needs were as well and the equipment/procedures used to keep the home safe for her -- it will just add to the evidence. You being legally blind has nothing to do with the situation - except, that you may need someone else to take the photographs (if you cannot see well enough to take photos). Until the issue is fixed, seal off the basement door and keep your wife away from the area. If the basement isn't fixed in 2 weeks, hire a plumber to take care of the issue - you'll pay for it yourself, but then make a copy of the receipt and give the original to the landlord. In writing state that he/she needs to reimburse you and if not, you will be deducting it from your rent.
Camryn Originally Answered: How can I get out of my rental lease?
Have you notified the landlord of the sewage issue? Is the landlord ignoring the problem and not cleaning it up? When did the flooding occur? You do have to give the landlord a chance to fix things. But, raw sewage is a health hazard regardless of whether you have cancer or not. That could be something you can call the health department about. You could take pictures of the issue and document the things you are stating here. Unfortunately, you aren't going to get far complaining about the w/d hookups and dishwasher since you have lived there 2 years. That should have been something you needed to address the first couple of months you lived there. Give the landlord a one month notice that you will be out by Jan 1st. Then, if he tries to sue you for breaking the lease, show the judge your evidence of the sewage, your letter asking him to fix it etc.
Camryn Originally Answered: How can I get out of my rental lease?
You need to read property code for your state. Or have someone read it and tell you what it says about that sewer stuff in the basement. I think that is a basis for moving. Call your local housing or whoever handles that type of complaint and have them come out and they will get on your landlord. It know they usually have to provide hot water and heat but floating feces is a health menance. If it breaks property code in your area, then the landlord has breached your lease. He will not give you your deposit back and he will then be required to send you a letter stating why he kept your deposit. Be sure you have documented the feces and flooding and sewer back up with a return receipt letter to the landlord and lots and lots of pictures. You may have to take him to small claims court for the deposit. It's worth it all to get out of that filth. That can't be right for someone fighting cancer. Good luck. I'm a landlord and he is giving me a bad name.

Amalee Amalee
you will have to call your appt asscosication in your town or call a realtor maybe she can give you the number or atleast the name
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Amalee Originally Answered: Do I have a broken lease on my rental history?
Not if you paid all agreed to rent and penalties for moving out early, then you don't have a broken lease. A lease is a binding contract. If you followed everything in that contract to a tee, then you didn't break it.
Amalee Originally Answered: Do I have a broken lease on my rental history?
When you leave early with a landlord agreement, that is not a broken lease. It is mutually cancelled for a fee. However, if you didn't pay the fee when you left, that makes it a broken lease since you didn't live up to your end of the agreement. A broken lease is when the tenants leave early without landlord permission.

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