Landlords should be required to reveal select information
By Morgan Hannah, Life & Style Editor
I remember walking up the stairs of my potential new home and being enamoured by the wrought-iron chandelier hanging from the ceiling in the main foyer. It was huge! And I had never had a chandelier in any place that I’d lived before. What I failed to miss though, were the cobwebs strung between the fancy swirls and hoops of metal and inside every lemon-frosted lightbulb cover—much like the rest of the place, the chandelier was a clever trick to make you look past the shoddy truth.
Those brief moments of awe aside, the biggest lie that came with moving into my new place was when the landlord told me the neighbours were nice and quiet people. I’ve been living in a home split into three suites for a little over six months now and have had to deal with terrible people. I thought I had moved away from some terrible neighbours when I left my apartment in New West, but somehow my partner and I manage to always be really unlucky when finding a place to call home. And what’s worse is that we’re all in quarantine now, so there really is no escape from these people either.
Day in and day out, my neighbours allow their six-year-old child to scream bloody murder for hours! And when my partner or I try to confront them about this disturbance of our peace with a simple knock on the divider that separates their third of the house from ours, the wife screams profanities back at us. The husband is no better—he’s not home most of the time. When he is, he’ll shrug his shoulders and say “kids these days…” They sound like characters from a movie, but they’re real!
According to the BC Government, “tenants have a right to peace, quiet and privacy in their homes—a right that comes from the common law principle of quiet enjoyment.” This means that we have the right to reasonable privacy and freedom from unreasonable disturbances. Unfortunately, according to my partner and my unresponsive landlord, the noises that the child downstairs produces on a daily basis are considered within reason—they’re just unreasonable to me. My options at this point are limited, seeing as how we have signed a lease stating that we will live here until November 2020, and should we break that contract, we will be forfeiting our damage deposit as well as be held potentially liable for a couple months of rent should the landlords have difficulty finding a replacement tenant. All of this being said, it is my opinion that landlords must be required to provide truthful, relevant information about current tenants sharing the space that is up for rent when asked by potential new renters.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada website states that one’s personal information should only be obtained, used, and revealed for legitimate purposes, with their knowledge and often with their consent. Their personal information also needs to be stored, shared, and discarded of in a way that ensures it is confidential and secure. I see no breach in this right of privacy by sharing information such as how many people live in the shared spaces, what schedules they keep, whether they have children or pets, and whether there have been any noise complaints against them. This is all information that landlords collect when renting out spaces and it should be made available to anyone who is seriously interested in renting, regardless of whether that drives potential renters away or not. Like any other service, an interview between landlord, current tenants, and new tenants should be made available—that way everyone involved is happier with the decisions they’re making and less disputes will arise in the future from sneaky tactics or hasty decision making.
There’s always a possibility that one member of the equation will deny the interview process, and that’s okay! However, if the interview process was made a commonplace practice when renting, like it is when buying, then those who refuse the process would stand out as red flags to potential renters looking for specific circumstances. Right off the bat, they’d know to keep searching.
It’s as simple as everyone involved being honest and thorough, as well as making sure the information of others doesn’t land in the wrong hands; in fact, through the interview process, more seedy renters will be weeded out and exposed. An additional benefit to maintaining peaceful and respectful neighbourhoods everywhere.