A reader, who is unable to pay her rent in full, has been given a choice of 20 days to remedy the problem or to vacate the premises immediately and wants to know if she should not be given a month’s notice.
She says she received a letter from the managing agent advising that she is required to pay the balance within 20 days or, if unable to do so, to leave the rented premises on the day of receipt of the notice.
See the reader’s question here.
It is evident from the copy of the notice received by the reader that she has misinterpreted or misunderstood its content.
Correctly, the managing agent placed our reader on terms due to her default under the lease and required her to remedy her default within a period of 20 days.
This period is presumably prescribed in the lease agreement.
The given date for the reader to vacate the premises is approximately a week beyond the 20-day period.
That date is only applicable in the event of the reader failing to comply with the notice to make good her default.
From a legislative perspective, the Rental Housing Act regulations state that if a tenant breaches the lease the landlord has to do two things.
Firstly, he must give the tenant seven days’ notice in which to remedy the breach.
But if the tenant is in default of rental payment and remains in default for a period of seven days of the due date, then such notice will be dispensed with.
Secondly, he must obtain a valid court order to evict the tenant.
Given this legislation, the 20-day period is more generous than that prescribed in legislation.
The notice given by a landlord to a tenant in an instance of breach has various purposes.
If the breach is unintentional, the tenant receives a useful reminder to do whatever it is that she is required to do under the agreement of lease.
It also serves to put the tenant into something called “mora”.
Under this provision, if the tenant has failed to remedy the problem, the rights of the landlord, whether in accordance with the agreement of lease or in accordance with law, become effective.
This allows the landlord to take further steps against the tenant where the tenant fails to remedy the breach.
Mora also typically permits the landlord to charge interest on the outstanding amount.
In questioning the period permitted for her to vacate the premises, it is possible that the reader is thinking of the one-month period of notice required to terminate a month-to-month lease.
The Rental Housing Act allows for at least one month’s written notice to be given by either party where such party intends to terminate a periodic lease.
If the reader remains in occupation of the rented premises, notwithstanding her default, the landlord is required to seek and obtain a court order for her eviction.
Obtaining such a court order will take in excess of one or more months and our reader will have time to seek alternative and more affordable premises if this is what concerns her.
A better solution, however, may be for her to negotiate a manner in which she can remedy her breach and remain in occupation, while seeking alternative premises.
The benefit of such an arrangement is that the reader will not have any adverse judgments recorded against her.
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