How to Prevent Maintenance Issues and Applications
1) prevent a tenant’s maintenance application to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB)?
2) discover a problematic tenant early on?
3) exercise my right of entry effectively?
4) fulfill my legal obligations as per s.20 of the Residential Tenancies Act (2007) (RTA)i?
Regular. Maintenance. Inspections.
1) The main benefit from doing regular inspections of your rental unit lies in prevention of tenant applications. When you conduct an inspection, you may notice certain defects, damages, or wear-and-tear that may be a ground for a tenant’s maintenance (T6) and/or reasonable enjoyment (T2) application. Once you complete the repair (within a reasonable time), not only are you stopping a possible rent abatement in its tracks, you also have proof for the LTB that you are a responsive landlord on top of their legal duties.
What happens when the tenant makes a T2/T6 application to the LTB? The tenant may get a rent abatement calculated on a percentage basis up to one year prior to the filing of the application, compensation for damaged property, and out-of-pocket expenses, to name the more serious remedies. It may be shocking to a landlord to discover a tenant application for maintenance arising from ongoing issues that started years before.
2) Regular inspections of your rental unit will allow you to quickly discover damages done by the tenant and will give you grounds for eviction based on an N5 Notice of Termination. If the tenant is not allowing you into the unit, that is also a ground for an N5 notice. Regular inspections will also give you insight on what kind of people you tenants are: are the clean, do they take care of the unit, are they doing anything illegal, are they damaging the unit, are they making alterations without your consent, are they allowing more occupants than is permitted by the City by-laws, are they using the unit as an AirBnB business? Discovering problematic tenant behaviour earlier than later will save you many headaches and financial troubles.
3) Another important benefit of inspecting the unit regularly is that the tenants see you regularly (assuming they are home when you inspect). This creates a certain level of discipline for the tenants and respect for the landlord. Firstly, the tenant sees that you know of and are not afraid to exercise your right of entry. Secondly, the tenant sees that you care about your unit and that you are taking an active position in your business. This means that if the tenants breach their obligations under the law or the lease agreement, they know you will respond quickly. Lastly, this will facilitate open communication, which is a key component to any relationship.
4) Last, but most certainly not least, a landlord has legal obligations to maintain the rental unit in a good state of repair, fit for habitation, and complying with maintenance standards as per Section 20 of the RTA. This means that the landlord is obligated to conduct repairs and maintain the unit regardless of whether the tenant informs them of any issues, and even if the tenant knows about the disrepair when entering into the lease agreement. How can a landlord know about issues in the unit if the tenant does not inform of them? Regular maintenance inspections.
Keep in mind:
1) Regular does not mean frequent; it is reasonable to conduct inspections every 4-8 months. If the landlord enters the unit too often, the tenant can file a T2 application for reasonable enjoyment. (This timeline does not apply if the unit needs repairs.)
2) When entering the unit legally, 24-hour written notice must be given to the tenant. Illegal entry is also a ground for a T2 application. The landlord has the right to enter the unit when the tenant is not there, however such conduct may strain the relationship. For more information on the landlord’s right of entry, see the LTB’s Interpretation Guideline 19: http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/documents/ltb/Interpretation%20Guidelines/19%20-%20The%20Landlords%20Right%20of%20Entry%20into%20a%20Rental%20Unit.html
3) Know what you are inspecting and keep the inspection as short and non-intrusive as possible; this is a person’s home. It is important to exercise your right of entry while being considerate and respectful to the tenant. Read more about maintenance standards here: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/laws/regu/o-reg-517-06/latest/o-reg-517-06.html
For more information regarding maintenance inspections, if a tenant has made a T2/T6 application against you, if you are experiencing problems with your tenant while conducting inspections, or any further questions, contact us at (647)-746-4934 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to help. Please be advised that this article is not meant as legal advice, and that we strongly recommend seeking independent legal representation before initiating any legal action.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
― Benjamin Franklin
i Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 17, s. 20