Accessibility and Rental Issues
October 5, 2015 1:41 PM   Subscribe

I am in Ontario, and I'm currently subletting an apartment because the tenants needed to leave their lease earlier than the term. The tenants expressed to me that I would be able to renew the lease after the term of the sublet, and this is something that I want to do. The management company has not been responsive to either my or the superintendent's queries, and the sublet term will be over relatively soon. The superintendent recommends that I just continue occupying the suite by paying the rent on a month-to-month basis. Can I do this? (Snowflake: I'm Deaf and there are accessibility issues in contacting the management company.)

YANML. I've done my due diligence in trying to contact the management company - I had the superintendent let them know that I was looking to renew the lease five weeks ago. The superintendent reported back to me telling me that the management company wanted me to sign a new lease. My interpretation of the Ontario Tenancy Act was that as a sublettee, I wasn't entitled to transition onto month-to-month, so I was amenable to this option - I had the superintendent call them to ask them to send a lease.

From there, radio silence. I waited two weeks, and I was concerned that they might be trying to reach me by phone, something that's not possible for me since I'm Deaf. I should note here that this is in spite of me having written that I'm deaf multiple times on the application form they had me fill out to sublet the apartment, including on the contact information page, asking them not to phone me and providing them with my email address and texting number. I texted the superintendent and asked him to phone the company to explain this, just in case, and he got back to me with an email address to contact them on.

So I emailed them on the same day, and got nothing back. I waited for a week before I sent another reminder email, and it's been two weeks since then - I have heard nothing back from the email. I've also been in consistent contact with the superintendent by text over the past few weeks to see if he's heard anything from them, and they haven't contacted him at all about this. In the meantime, I've also sat down with a sign language interpreter multiple times over the course of a week within business hours to phone them, but each time I do, the management company does not pick up.

Today, I texted the superintendent again, and it's clear he's frustrated with the situation too - he advised me just to continue to pay the rent on a month by month basis and continue to occupy the suite instead of trying to sign a lease with them. I'm not sure if I have the option to do this or not, or if this puts me in a dangerous situation legally. The tenants have already abandoned the apartment, and do not intend to return.

To be clear, they should have no reason to deny me a lease in the first place - they've seen my sublet application, which is identical to the lease application, and approved it, and I've been an excellent tenant over the past month. The only reason why they would do so would be because of the accessibility issues. I'm seriously considering filing a discrimination complaint, but I'm not sure if this is the best way to accomplish what I want to do here. Ultimately, I just want to be able to continue to occupy the apartment - the apartment is excellent, priced cheaply, and central, and the rental market is really really hard to find a new place in especially with the accessibility barriers I have in finding housing, so I really don't want to move out unless I absolutely have to.

How do I proceed from here with this goal in mind?
posted by Conspire to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it possible that you can switch the sublet into an assignment (the appropriate thing to do when you don't intend to return)?

Actually, this might even count as a deemed assignment. What date did you move in, and what date does their lease end?
posted by jeather at 1:51 PM on October 5, 2015

You might find it helpful to speak to someone at a legal aid clinic. Here is a link to legal aid ontario's housing help page, including a link to the list of clinics.
posted by girlpublisher at 1:51 PM on October 5, 2015

Contact the Landlord and Tenant Board. It's free and they'll advise you of your rights. As a government agency they are required to provide communication in multiple ways.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:12 PM on October 5, 2015

Is it possible that you can switch the sublet into an assignment (the appropriate thing to do when you don't intend to return)?

Actually, this might even count as a deemed assignment. What date did you move in, and what date does their lease end?

I moved in on September 1st, and the lease (and my sublease) expires October 31st. If for some reason, I can't stay here, I need to know right away because most of the landlords here only list phone numbers and that's not accessible for me - it's really tough for me to find a place here.

How would I go about switching the sublease into an assignment? I'm still in contact with the tenants, if that helps.
posted by Conspire at 4:30 PM on October 5, 2015

IANAL, but the property management company is subject to the Customer Service Regulations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

If you need to pursue advice on dealing with accommodation ARCH Disability Law may be worth contacting.

Seems to me that even when you've arranged your own ASL interpretation, the company was unwilling to talk to you.

You've gone above and beyond by giving them alternate means of contacting you to discuss this.

Also the Landlord Tenant Board, as fffm suggests above, would be a good place to start on the tenancy issue. Given that the superintendent seems to want you as a tenant, discussing how this works if they don't contact you re: leasing and yet you continue to pay rent and be a good tenant may be a deemed assignment defaulting to a month-to-month scenario. This seems like a good avenue to pursue advice from the board.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:42 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, I should mentioned that consultations with ARCH are free.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:33 PM on October 5, 2015

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