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I am a landlord with one rental dwelling, currently occupied by tenants who will be departing in a few months' time.

The tenant gave us their intention to move last week. Consequently, we posted an advertisement on Kijiji. We had a few people interested in taking a look and notified the tenants 48 hours in advance of viewing but the tenants denied us entry. We rescheduled for 96 hours in advance, with the tenant promising to clean the place up, but did not. We emailed and asked the tenants to clean up the place next time during viewing. Tenants replied that they felt harassed and refuse to further communication via phone or email. They want us to drop a mail off each time we want to communicate. We tried to reason but they threatened nonpayment if email communication continues.

The property is in Ontario. My question is, do we need to listen to the tenants' request or do we have the right to continue communicating with them via email?

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Looking at the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17, there are a couple of possibilities:

  1. If the tenancy is being terminated or notice has been given (s. 26(3)), you can enter without written notice between 8 A.M.-8 P.M. as long as you "inform[] and make[] a reasonable effort to inform the tenant of the intention to do so."
  2. Otherwise (s. 27(1)), you can enter with "written notice given to the tenant at least 24 hours before the time of entry [...] (5) For any other reasonable reason for entry specified in the tenancy agreement." However, this does not allow you to bring people in.

So, if they have indicated that they are leaving I don't think they can refuse entry given proper notice, so you may be within your rights to call the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit at 416-585-7214/1-888-772-9277 and discuss this issue with them (FAQ on entering a rental unit and PDF version). You should probably check the Landlord Self-Help site; if they can't help, check with a lawyer.

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  • While this is a good listing of information, the actual question OP posted is whether they may continue to use email - so I think this does not actually answer the question. – sleske Jan 17 '18 at 8:24
  • Thank you @sleske for the comment; I did misread the question, but hopefully it was helpful anyways. The PDF link (p. 2) has a list of acceptable "written notice" choices, and e-mail does not appear to be one of them. Hopefully that, and sleske's answer, are useful! – ErikF Jan 17 '18 at 9:17
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ErikF's answer already covers the rules about entering a rented apartment after notice has been given. I'll try to answer the other question.

Do we need to listen to the tenants' request or do we have the right to continue communicating with them via email?

I don't think there is an explicit law about this in Canada, but in general neither side has the right to insist on a specific form of communication.

With a contract, sometimes a specific form of communication is specified - for example, it is common to require a "written notice" for important acts such as a termination. Unless the rental contract contains such clauses, you will have to mutually agree on a method of communication. If you cannot come to such an agreement, the matter will likely have to go to court.

We tried to reason but they threatened nonpayment if email communication continues.

If you continue to send email, it is unlikely that the tenant could take you to court for not honoring your request, as sending business email is not harassment (unless you include threats or similar in your mails); however, they could simply refuse to read email, and you might have to go to court if you want to force them to do so.

Not paying you is definitely out of the question; even if you somehow infringed on the tenant's rights by sending email (unlikely), they still would have to pay you - you cannot unilaterally decide to punish someone by not paying them.

In practice, it is probably easiest to simply abide by your tenants request and write mail. It may be less practical than email, however it is probably not worth fighting this in court.

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