The relationship between a tenant and a landlord is typically the most important relationship for any commercial tenant. Preserving a positive relationship with the commercial landlord is not only of utmost importance to the tenant’s business but should be a primary priority. Failure to maintain a positive relationship exposes the tenant’s business to the frailties and nuance of commercial landlord and tenant law in the Commercial Tenancies Act R.S.O. 1990. This area of law entails much risk and potential for harm to all parties.
We regularly receive contact from businesses that are on the receiving end of an overly aggressive landlord. Typically the aggressive landlord arises from a general breakdown in the relationship between the tenant business and the landlord. When the relationship is strained, the landlord’s primary motivation aside from collecting rent and enforcement of other covenants is typically a desire to see an end to the tenancy at whatever cost. These objectives on the part of the landlord can manifest themselves in many ways, however, we primarily observe interference with the tenant’s business or the tenancy generally.
When these actions on part of the landlord rise above mere nuisance to a level that actually causes harm and material interference with the tenant’s business, the tenant is afforded very few options to prevent further harm and to realize any damages suffered. In these situations it is possible for a commercial tenant to explore obtaining a civil restraining order. Civil restraining orders are very similar to their criminal cousins in that they are judicial declarations meant to restrain or prohibit behavior on the part of one party which is deemed to be offensive to the court, and the potential to cause irreparable harm to another party.
We have been successful in protecting tenant business by obtaining civil restraining orders as against aggressive commercial landlords in situations where a landlord is acting in bad faith, and resulting in a breach of the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the leased property. While a civil restraining order is not ideal in all situations and in fact should be explored only as an option of last resort, it can have the effect of preserving the battle lines in place, preventing further irreparable harm while the parties explore their objectives moving forward.
Posted by D. Jared Brown – Lead Counsel