Crowell v. Larsen,  N.S.J. No. 269, Nova Scotia Supreme Court, April 5, 2002, Boudreau J.
A mother signed as a Co-signor Agreement guaranteeing the performance of the Lease Agreement between her daughter and the landlord. The mother drafted post-dated cheques to pay for the rent for her daughter and provided them to the landlord. The daughter vacated the rented premise without notice to the landlord. The mother stopped payment on her post-dated cheques and the landlord began proceedings before the Residential Tenancies Board against both mother and daughter. At the hearing before the Residential Tenancy officer, the officer found that the Co-signor Agreement did not stipulate that the mother had the rights of a tenant and therefore she could not have the right to occupy the premise. The officer found that, since no landlord/tenant relationship existed, the mother could not be considered a Respondent in the proceedings. The officer found in favour of the landlord and granted an order against the daughter, but not the mother. The landlord appealed the officer’s decision to the Residential Tenancies Board. The Board held that the Lease clearly stated that “only persons specifically named in the Lease shall live in the apartment”. The mother was not named in the Lease, and therefore she was not a tenant as defined in the Act. The Board held that the mother could not be named as a Respondent. The landlord appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The court held that if one looks at the stated purpose of the Act, it does not appear logical that co-signors/guarantors of residential leases should be excluded from enforcement proceedings before the Board. The court used the purposive approach to interpretation and held that the definition of tenant includes an individual who is deemed to be a tenant and also the legal representative of an occupant. The court held that the mother was in fact a legal representative of her daughter and as such was a tenant within the meaning of the Act. The order of the Board was amended to add the name of the mother as a Respondent, and the mother was ordered to pay the monies awarded to the landlord by the Board.
To stay current with the new case law and emerging legal issues in this area, subscribe here.