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Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance?

It is your landlord's job to repair and maintain your home. Your landlord must fix or replace anything that is in bad condition or does not work properly.

This includes things that came with your place, such as appliances like a fridge or stove. It also includes common areas, like parking lots, elevators, and hallways.

It doesn't matter if your lease or rental agreement says something different. It doesn't matter if you knew about the problem when you agreed to rent the place. The law says your landlord is responsible.

Your belongings

Your landlord isn't normally responsible for your personal property such as furniture, clothing, or electronics. But your landlord could be responsible if it is their fault your things are damaged. For example, there is water damage to your things because your landlord did not fix a plumbing problem or a leaky roof.

Cleaning and outdoor maintenance

It is your landlord's job to clean and maintain the common areas. These are areas, both inside and outside the building, that are not part of tenants' apartments. For example, your landlord must:

  • keep halls, elevators, stairways, and lobbies clean
  • keep laundry rooms and garbage rooms clean
  • pick up garbage outside the building
  • cut the lawn
  • shovel snow and keep ice off the driveways and sidewalks

It is up to you to keep your own apartment or rental unit clean, unless your lease or rental agreement says your landlord will do it.

If you rent a whole house, the law is not clear about who is responsible for outdoor work like lawn mowing and snow shovelling.

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Next Steps: 

1. Tell your landlord if there is a problem

If something in your unit or your building needs repair, make sure your landlord knows about it. Tell your landlord what is wrong and ask to have the problem fixed. Keep notes for yourself about when you talked to your landlord and what each of you said.

It is sometimes helpful to take photos of the problem. Put the date on the photos.

If your landlord does not fix it soon, send a letter or an email asking your landlord to do the repair. Make sure to keep a copy for yourself. Or, if your landlord has a special form for repair requests, fill one out and keep a copy.

It is safest to keep paying your rent while you are trying to get your landlord to deal with repair problems. If you do not pay all your rent for any reason, your landlord can try to have you evicted.

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2. Talk to your neighbours

Find out if other tenants in your building have similar problems. If the problems are in a common area, like the elevator, or if many different units are affected, you might get more done by working together.

If there are ongoing issues in your building or neighbourhood, you might want to start a tenants' association.

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3. Call an inspector

If your landlord does not fix the problem, you can call your local property standards or by-law department, or your town or city hall, municipal office, or local councillor. Many cities, towns, and other municipalities have inspectors who can order your landlord to make repairs or to clean up your building.

If there are no local housing standards where you live, the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit is responsible for enforcing provincial standards. You can call them at 1-888-772-9277.

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4. Apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board

If your landlord does not fix the problem, you can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board. The Board is like a special court that decides disputes between tenants and landlords.

When you apply, the Board will schedule a hearing where you and your landlord can each explain the problem to a member of the Board. Before the hearing, you and your landlord can try to settle your problems yourselves or with the help of a Board employee.

At the hearing, it is up to you to convince the Board member about the problem. It is very important to bring evidence to your hearing, for example, witnesses, photos, audio or video recordings, inspectors' reports, work orders, letters, notes, or anything else that can help you prove your case to the Board member.

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Reviewed: 
August, 2015