Is a Landlord Allowed to Forbid a Tenant From Putting Up Holiday Decorations?

A Landlord Must Refrain From Interfering In the Installation of Holiday Decorating By a Tenant; However, a Tenant Must Also Refrain From Installing Decorations That Pose a Safety Hazard With Liability Risk or Causes Damage.

Understanding the Limited Reasons to Restrict Installation of Seasonal Decorations Including Safety or Damage Concerns

Tenant Installing Christmas Lights 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 Law

The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, Chapter 17, is without explicit directives regarding seasonal holiday decorations such as Christmas lights, among other things; however, the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, contains various sections that are relevant to the safety concerns and the damage concerns of a landlord while also containing sections relevant to the rights of a tenant to enjoy the rental premises without unreasonable interference by the landlord.

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.

With all the above said regarding tenant behaviour relating to holiday decorations, it must also be noted that, per section 22 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, a landlord is forbidden from unreasonably interfering with the rights to reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit by the tenant.  Specifically, section 22 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.

Summary Comment

A landlord must provide tenants with the freedom to enjoy the rental unit which includes the freedom to install decorations such as holiday lighting displays, among other things; however, tenants must install decorations in such a manner that avoids creation of safety hazards as well as avoids causing damage to the rented premises.

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