Gerard Windle & Mary Jane Dumbrell Broker,Salesperson
Ottawa, ON
Phone: 613-236-5959 Mobile: 613-788-2107 Fax: 613-788-2115 Email Gerard Windle & Mary Jane Dumbrell

Maintenance and Repair

Who is responsible for maintaining the unit?

It is the landlord's responsibility to maintain the unit and ensure that it is in a good state of repair, even if:

  • the tenant was aware of problems in the unit before they moved into it, or,
  • the landlord puts into the lease that the tenant is responsible for maintenance.

However, the tenant is responsible for keeping the unit clean, up to the standard that most people consider ordinary or normal cleanliness.  The tenant is also responsible for repairing or paying for any damage to the rental property caused by the tenant, their guests or another person living in the rental unit.

Can a tenant withhold rent because their landlord isn’t properly maintaining their building or unit?

No.  If the tenant withholds rent, the landlord can give the tenant a notice of termination for non-payment of rent and then file an application to evict the tenant. There are other options for dealing with maintenance problems.  (See questions below)

What should a tenant do if repairs are needed to their building or unit?

A tenant should first talk to the landlord and let the landlord know what the problems are.  The tenant should also put all the problems in writing and give this to the landlord or the person that takes care of these problems (e.g. the superintendent or property manager).

If the landlord refuses to do the repairs or the tenant thinks that the landlord is taking too long to deal with them, the tenant has several options.

Can a tenant pay their rent to the Board if their landlord isn’t properly maintaining their building or unit?

If a tenant files a Tenant Application About Maintenance (Form T6) with the Board, the tenant may also ask to pay some or all of their rent into the Board until their application has been decided.  The tenant will have to justify why they should pay into the Board and not pay the landlord directly.  It will be up to the Board to determine whether or not to grant the tenant’s request.

There is a form called Request to Pay Rent to the Board on a Tenant Application About Maintenance that tenants should use to make their request to the Board. 

Note:  If the tenant has not filed a T6 application, the tenant cannot ask to pay their rent money into the Board.

Who is responsible for snow removal?

It is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that the residential complex is kept in a good state of repair, fit for habitation and to comply with any health, safety, housing and maintenance standards.  Failure to clear the snow may be a breach of municipal safety, housing or maintenance standards. These standards generally set out that it is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that the property can be safely entered and exited.  The Act does not deal with this issue. It would be up to a Member to decide whose responsibility snow removal is, based on the circumstances presented in the specific application that is filed.
In the case of a mobile home park or land lease community, however, the Act states that the landlord must remove snow from the roadways.

Who is responsible for garbage removal?

When a rental unit is offered to a new tenant, the landlord and tenant can negotiate how garbage and recyclable items from the tenant’s unit will be collected.  Once a procedure is agreed to, it cannot be changed without the consent of both the landlord and tenant.

A change that results in the tenant receiving less service from the landlord could lead to a reduction in the rent the landlord can charge.
In the case of a mobile home park or land lease community, however, the Act states that the landlord must remove or make arrangements for the garbage to be removed on a regular basis. 

When does a landlord have to turn the heat on?  What temperature does my landlord have to keep my apartment at?

If a landlord provides heat, the Act requires the landlord to keep the heat to at least 20 degrees Celsius from September 1 to June 15.  In addition, many municipalities have their own property standards or bylaws about heat.  You should contact you local municipal government to find out if your community has a bylaw that sets minimum standards for heat.   

What can a tenant do if their landlord does not turn on the heat?

Heat is a vital service.  If the landlord is responsible for providing heat and the landlord does not provide heat to the standards identified in the previous question, the landlord may be committing an offence.  You may call the Investigations and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing at 1-888-772-9277 or 416-585-7214 (if calling from the Toronto area).

You should also see the Board’s brochure on Maintenance & Repair for additional remedies available to tenants.

When does the landlord have to turn on the air conditioning?  What is the earliest that it can be turned off?

There are currently no bylaws in place that tell a landlord when they must turn the air conditioning on in a building, how cool they must keep the building once the air conditioning is working, or when it can be turned off.

Does a landlord have to renovate a rental unit before a new tenant moves in? Or, renovate it after the tenant has lived there a couple of years?

No, the landlord is not required by law to ‘update’ a rental unit with renovations like carpeting and painting when a tenant moves in, or after a tenant has lived there for a certain number of years.  The landlord is, however, responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex and the rental units in it in “a good state of repair and fit for habitation”.  The landlord must also comply with any health, safety, housing and maintenance standards that apply to their property. So, for example, if the carpeting is unsafe because it is badly ripped and might cause someone to fall, the landlord may have to replace or repair it, no matter how old or new it is.