Here is the Grand Finale. Or, if you are pressed for time, the most efficient place to spend your time.

Ellen has edited her opening paragraph, added headings, and revised paragraphs for emphasis.

Now see if Ellen’s letter holds together. Use the blue highlighter to highlight the letter’s headings, and the topic and concluding sentences in each paragraph. If you change your mind, use the white eraser.  Then just read out loud the highlighted portions.

Dear Ms. Feld;

After our meeting last week, I reviewed your lease and the law on “no pet” clauses. “No pet” clauses are not enforced by the courts. You cannot be evicted because you signed a lease with a “no pet” clause and you later bought a dog, Bingo. Your landlord can only evict you if Bingo creates a nuisance by disturbing other tenants. Also, the landlord must first give you notice in writing with valid reasons for an eviction; he cannot tell you orally to move. I recommend we write to the landlord to tell him the Clinic represents you and that you will not be moving out at the end of the month.

The Landlord Can Evict You If Bingo Is A Nuisance
Tenants with pets can only be evicted if the landlord proves that the pet unreasonably disturbs the other tenants. As a general principle, “no-pet” clauses are not enforceable in residential leases. Your landlord cannot end your tenancy because you violated a “no-pet” clause in your lease. To evict you, your landlord will have to show that over the last three years Bingo’s behavior makes him a nuisance.

Because over the last three years you have never heard any complaints that Bingo disturbed other tenants, it is highly unlikely the landlord can show that Bingo is a nuisance. A recent case summarized the various situations where courts allowed landlords to evict dog owners. Courts have decided that a dog was a nuisance when: the dog barked excessively when left alone; the constant barking could be heard even in the basement; the dog was permitted to urinate on the lawn; and the dog urinated in hallways and elevator. On the other hand, a court has found that a dog was not a nuisance when the dog owner always used a leash to walk the dog in and out of the building, even though another tenant was frightened by dogs. In another case, the court did not consider a dog a nuisance where the sound of a dog's claws on the kitchen floor annoyed the tenant below. You told me you walk Bingo in and out of the building on a leash and your neighbours tell you that Bingo is quiet when you are way; therefore, we do not know any facts to support your landlord's eviction notice.

The Landlord Must Give Written Notice with Reasons Before Evicting You
You cannot be evicted based on the landlord's oral notice to leave by the end of the month. The Residential Tenancies Act protects tenants from unreasonable evictions by requiring the landlord to give written notice stating the reasons for any eviction. You have not received a written notice and do not have to move at the end of the month.

If in the future you receive a written notice, the Residential Tenancies Act further protects you by giving you a chance to dispute the landlord’s notice. The landlord cannot simply remove you from your apartment. He must have legal grounds to do so and he must apply for an order from the court and notify you on the steps you can take to fight the eviction. Even if the landlord had valid reasons to evict you, he must strictly comply with all the Residential Tenancies Act’s notice requirements. We will need to reassess your situation if you receive a written notice from your landlord.

The Clinic’s Recommended Next Steps
I recommend we send a letter to the landlord letting him know that the Clinic represents you and that you will not be moving at the end of the month. I have drafted a letter for you to review. If the landlord continues to speak with you directly about your eviction, please let me know and we will instruct him again to communicate directly with us. If you receive a written notice, please let me know right away so we can best advise you. Please phone my assistant Adrienne (303 999-8800 ext 33) for an appointment early next week to answer any questions you have and to review the clinic’s letter to your landlord.

Yours truly,

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Listen to Ellen’s own final thoughts

Transcript (.pdf. 105 kb)

Listen to pointers from Ellen’s supervising lawyer

Transcript (.pdf. 91 kb)