As a tenant advocate I have heard hundreds of stories about landlords failing to do required maintenance. The maintenance issues run the gamete from bed bugs, to mold, to a bathroom ceiling actually falling on a tenants head because the landlord failed to repaired water damaged ceiling.
The first thing you need to know as a tenant is that under the law you are not entitled to withhold rent just because the landlord is not doing their job. There is a process that needs to be followed to compel the landlord to complete the repairs, and if required compensate you for your troubles.
Getting it Fixed.
(1) The first thing that all tenants need to do is make a written request for maintenance and give it to your landlord. I will provide a link on my site of a sample maintenance form that you can use if your landlord does not have a pre-printed form. Make sure that you keep track of when you gave the request to the landlord and how you gave him the form (handing it to a superintend, putting it in a mail slot etc..)
(2) If the landlord does not respond to your request for maintenance then the next step is to call your local City By-Law (Property Standards). City By-Law Officers can come to your house and do an inspection of the required work at absolutely no cost to you as the tenant. If the by-law officer determines that maintenance work needs to be done then the by-law officer will issue an Order to the landlord to have the work completed. If the landlord still fails to complete the work the by-law officer will bring in their own contractors to do the maintenance work and bill the cost to the landlord on the landlords property tax bill.
By-Law Contact Numbers:
City of Kitchener – By-Law: (519) 741-2330
City of Waterloo By-Law: (519) 747-8785
City of Cambridge By-Law: (519) 621-0740 ext. 7907
City of Guelph By-Law: 519-837-2529
It is important to know that your landlord cannot evict you just because you made a complaint to property City By-Law. For more on this come back to see future blog posts.
(3) Once the work is completed, either by the landlord or the city the next step is to determine if the landlord is required to provide you with any compensation as a result of the maintenance. When a landlord is required to compensate a tenant for maintenance and repairs the compensation is called a rent abatement. As a general rule a tenant is only entitled to a rent abatement of the landlord (a) fails to respond to the maintenance request in a reasonable time, and/or (b) fails to have the repair work done in a reasonable time.
Only the Ontario Landlord & Tenant Board has the power to award rent abatement and the process is not automatic. For more information about the Landlord & Tenant Board hearing process see out up coming blogs.
For more information please feel free to contact my office.
Shaun D. Harvey, B.A Licensed Paralegal since 2013