Can a Tenant Be Forbidden From Putting Up Christmas Lights?
A Landlord Must Allow the Installation of Seasonal Holiday Decorations, Such As Christmas Lights, Unless the Decorations Pose a Safety Risk or May Cause Damage to the Rental Premises.
Understanding the Limited Reasons to Restrict Installation of Seasonal Decorations Including Safety or Damage Concerns
In Ontario, landlords are generally required to permit installation of religious decorations and holiday displays by a tenant; however, if the decorations or displays create safety hazards with liability risks or cause damage to the rental premises, then the landlord may forbid the decorations or displays or may impose reasonable measures that eliminate the safety hazards and prevent the damage.
The relevant law, being the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, Chapter 17, lacks explicit mandates relating to seasonal decorations or religious holiday displays, including Christmas lights, among other things, however, the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, does contain mandates applicable to safety hazards and damage concerns as well as mandates applicable to rights of reasonable enjoyment.
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, at section 34, states that tenants may be liable for undue damage that is caused to the rental premise. Furthermore, section 62 states that tenants may be evicted for willfully or negligently damaging the rented premises. Additionally, section 64 states that a tenant may be evicted for substantially interfering with a right, a privilege, or an interest, of the landlord, including conduct that creates safety hazards that pose significant liability risk to the landlord. These sections explicitly state:
Tenant’s responsibility for repair of damage
34 The tenant is responsible for the repair of undue damage to the rental unit or residential complex caused by the wilful or negligent conduct of the tenant, another occupant of the rental unit or a person permitted in the residential complex by the tenant.
Termination for cause, damage
62 (1) A landlord may give a tenant notice of termination of the tenancy if the tenant, another occupant of the rental unit or a person whom the tenant permits in the residential complex wilfully or negligently causes undue damage to the rental unit or the residential complex.
Termination for cause, reasonable enjoyment
64 (1) A landlord may give a tenant notice of termination of the tenancy if the conduct of the tenant, another occupant of the rental unit or a person permitted in the residential complex by the tenant is such that it substantially interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of the residential complex for all usual purposes by the landlord or another tenant or substantially interferes with another lawful right, privilege or interest of the landlord or another tenant.
Despite the above concerns regarding decorations installed by a tenant, it is also important to bear in mind that section 22 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 forbids a landlord from unreasonably interfering with the reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit by the tenant. In this respect, section 22 specifically states:
Landlord not to interfere with reasonable enjoyment
22 A landlord shall not at any time during a tenant’s occupancy of a rental unit and before the day on which an order evicting the tenant is executed substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit or the residential complex in which it is located for all usual purposes by a tenant or members of his or her household.
Interestingly, while a tenant is forbidden from causing safety issues or that may cause injury with potential liabilities incurred by the landlord or from damaging the property of the landlord, the landlord is forbidden from interfering in the reasonable enjoyment rights of the tenant. Accordingly, a balancing of rights is necessary to ensure that a tenant is reasonably permitted to install holiday decorations upon the rented premises while the tenant ensures that any such decorations are safely installed and done so without causing damage.
A landlord must permit a tenant to enjoy the rental unit, including allowing installation of holiday decorations such as lighting displays, among other things, so long as the tenant avoids creating safety hazards and refrains from damaging the rental premises.