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Tribunal rules snoring Quebec tenant urged by landlords to get help can’t seek damages

MONTREAL — The landlords came armed with snoring cessation products and even a medical referral for their tenant, a Quebec woman whose laboured breathing was keeping the downstairs neighbours awake. “Take care of yourself,” read the card they left.

But the Quebec City woman refused to seek help and did not appreciate the intervention, seeking compensation for harassment and meddling in her personal affairs.

She filed a complaint against her landlords, requesting a reduction in her $665 monthly rent as well as unspecified damages.

But in a decision this month, the province’s rental board ruled against her, saying there was no malicious intent on the part of the landlords.

“As the tenant did not want to address her acute snoring problem, and this situation created a loss of enjoyment to other tenants, the landlords were fully justified in initiating a lease termination proceeding,” wrote Marc Forest, a commissioner with Quebec’s rental board.

“From the evidence that was produced, it appears that the landlords tried to help the tenant with her health problems so that she could continue to stay in her home without disturbing the neighbours.”

The woman testified that following the complaints about her snoring, she suffered from depression, was off work for three months and slept in her living room to avoid noise complaints.

She added she felt hounded by the landlords and her neighbours, who frequently struck their ceiling to get her to stop snoring. Everyday activities like having company, cooking in the kitchen or watching television lost their appeal, she said.

Forest agreed with the snoring tenant that, under Quebec’s Civil Code, normal neighbourhood noise must be accepted.

“But is loud snoring constantly disturbing neighbours a normal inconvenience? The tribunal does not think so,” Forest wrote. “She cannot impose on others her personal decisions that affect the quality of life of others.”

The problems began in September 2016, when the woman, a longtime tenant in the building, moved into a unit on an upper floor and received a 3 a.m. call from her landlord saying the people directly below were being kept awake by her snoring.

According to the ruling, the landlords visited the following month in an effort to resolve the dispute. They gave her two boxes of anti-snoring products. They followed up the next day, leaving a suggestion of a doctor to consult, a container of unidentified liquid and a greeting card.

When the landlord checked back in December to see if she had consulted a health-care professional, the tenant told the landlords to leave her alone.

The situation quickly escalated. The landlords filed an application to terminate the woman’s lease in January 2017, and she responded with her harassment complaint.

The woman has a valid lease until 2019, and the board says the landlords’ application to end the lease has been withdrawn.

— with files from Pierre Saint-Arnaud in Montreal.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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