Tenant rights and responsibilities | routine repairs

Routine repairs are nothing more than inconveniences and therefore do not constitute an emergency. It is the landlord’s responsibility to attend to minor repairs, emergency situations and general maintenance issues. Tenants should avoid doing any type of repair work themselves unless they have agreed with their landlord to take on such responsibilities or in the event that they or their guests have caused some sort of damage to the property.

If the person or people responsible for doing repairs fail to fulfill their responsibilities, the other party that does not have any responsibility in doing this type of work can contact provincial authorities to report the negligence. The residential tenancy office exists for the purpose of helping tenants and landlords with these types of disputes, and filing an application with one can result in a court order that forces the responsible party to take the necessary steps to resolve the problem.

In the event that a landlord refuses to do any repairs, especially when they are crucial repairs like a broken lock or window, it is fully within the tenant’s rights to notify the proper local authority. Those who find that their landlord will not take care of a necessary repair will definitely want to think about contacting a local building department to schedule a inspection of the building/property. If the inspector who is in charge of looking over the property finds that it is not to meet the requirements of the province or territory, the landlord will be issued a work order to do the necessary repair work to bring it back up to code.

FACT: The Landlord has to fix it

When something that comes with the property that the tenant is renting breaks, such as a refrigerator, the landlord is required by law to fix it in a timely manner. This applies to all of the appliances that are included with the rental property, whether it be a home, apartment, or anything else. The landlord also has a legal responsibility to maintain common areas in the property, including lobbies, halls, elevators, stairways, swimming pools, laundry facilities, security systems, etc.

CAUTION: You can’t withhold rent to cover repairs

Withholding any amount of rent to pay for non-emergency repairs, you will be held legally responsible. Unless the repair is an absolute emergency, you will not be able to do this, unless you have the approval of a landlord or a court. A landlord can legally evict you for not paying your rent, even if you do so to cover the cost of a repair to the property.

The first thing you should do if you need a repair done is to contact the landlord or superintendant, whether it is by phone, email, or in person. If the landlord fails to respond to you or tells you they will not fix whatever is broken, you will want to put the request for the repair in writing. If you do not get any results after putting your request in writing, you have every right to contact your local rent authority to file a report. These offices are referred to as Rentalsman in certain provinces throughout Canada, and they can help you with getting the necessary repairs done as quickly as possible. Depending on what the nature of the problem is, the tenant may need to seek out advice or information from a fire, building, or health inspector. You can contact your local government office, which can be found in the Blue Pages, to find the proper inspector to help with your problem.

FACT: Before entry

A landlord is required to give advance notice to tenants before entering their premises, unless it is an absolute emergency. Refer to the Provincial and Territorial Fact Sheets for a full list of rules for your province.