This is Sound Advice for Landlords, a podcast project for small-scale landlords across Ontario. Sound Advice offers information on a range of topics and issues related to residential tenancies. Through one-on-one interviews with experts, landlords learn more about their rights and responsibilities. A transcript for each podcast is posted to our web site.

I’m Susan Wankiewicz and in this podcast we discuss Entering a Tenant’s Rental Unit.

Welcome to Sound Advice for Landlords, Silvana you’ve worked at Landlord’s Self-Help Centre for a long time.
Yes I have, and this issue comes up on a regular basis.

Do landlords have a lot of problems when it comes to entering a rental unit?
They do because they’re not aware that Residential Tenancies Act sets out circumstances the landlord is allowed to enter a rental unit.

There are different rules for entering in different situations, can you outline the three basic areas?
Well a landlord can enter a rental unit without notice, with verbal notice and with written notice, depending on the landlord’s reasons for entering the rental unit.

And are landlords restricted from entering the rental unit at certain times? Landlords can only enter the rental unit between 8 am or 8 pm.  Unless the rental agreement requires the landlord to clean the unit and it allows different hours for cleaning.

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Let’s talk about situations where no notice is required, can you tell us what those are?
A landlords can enter a rental unit with no notice if there is an emergency or the tenant gives the landlord permission to enter or if the rental agreement requires the landlord to clean the rental unit.

What would be considered an emergency?
Well, an emergency would be fire or water leaking that the landlord has to obtain access right away.

And when a landlord wants to enter a rental unit and seeks the consent, what the guidelines for that? 
The landlord goes to the rental unit, asks for permission to enter for a certain reasons and the tenant says”yes, you can enter” that’s fine, a landlord can enter.

And what are the rules for cleaning a rental unit?
A landlord can enter the unit without written notice if the tenancy agreement requires the landlord to clean the unit at any time of entry specified in the tenancy agreement.  If the time of entry is not specified, the landlord can enter between 8 am and 8 pm.

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Now, let’s move on and talk about situations where the landlord gives oral notice.
A landlord can enter the unit without written notice if the landlord or the tenant has given a notice of termination and the landlord wishes to show the unit to prospective tenants.

Should the landlord try to notify the tenant?
Although notice is not required, the landlord should make a reasonable effort to inform the tenant of the intention to do so and must still enter between 8 am and 8 pm.

So, in this instance, what would be reasonable?
Well, the landlord could try calling the tenant and if the landlord can’t reach the tenant he can leave a phone message that he intends to enter with a prospective tenant.

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Let’s talk about the situations where the landlord is required to give 24 hours written notice to the tenant.
There are several situations when a landlord must give 24 hours written notice before they can enter the unit.

What information must be contained in the notice? 
The notice must be in writing and must specify the reason for entry, the date of entry and the time of entry between 8 am and 8pm.

And how is the notice delivered to the tenant?
By handing it to an apparent adult person, placing it in the tenant’s mail box or where mail is usually delivered, sliding under the door or by posting it on the tenant’s door.

Oh, I didn’t think you were allowed to serve documents to tenants by posting on the door?
This is the only notice that can be posted on the tenant’s door.

And what are the other methods?
It can be faxed to the residence or place of business or by courier or mail with additional time added.

So, let’s review the list of reasons for entering the rental unit on 24 hours written notice.
Well, a landlord can enter the rental unit on 24 hours written notice:

  • to carry out a repair or do work in the rental unit;
  • to allow a potential mortgagee or insurer of the rental complex to view the unit; or
  • to allow the physical inspection of the rental unit by a qualified person to satisfy a requirement imposed under the Condominium Act

Those all seem to be straight forward reasons.
The next one is a new provision under the RTA that allows the landlord to inspect the rental unit for the purpose of determining whether the unit is in a good state of repair or fit for habitation and complies with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards.

This is new under the Residential Tenancies Act because previously, landlords had to reserve this right in their tenancy agreement. What’s the next reason?
Any other reasonable reason for entering specified in the tenancy agreement.

And what might a reasonable reason be?
Well, a landlord might want to reserve the right to enter a rental unit in cases where the landlord reserves some storage space and requires access to that storage space.

And the last reason for entering the rental unit after 24 hours written notice is?
When a landlord, broker or salesperson, registered under the Real Estate Act, with the written authorization of the landlord, may enter the rental unit to allow a potential purchaser to view the rental unit.

And those are the provisions established in the Residential Tenancies Act, but what are some of the common problems landlords have when entering a rental unit?
When a landlord reserves a block of time either for showing or repairs, we recommend that the time does not exceed more than two hours.

And are there situations where the tenant may not be cooperative?  For instance, what happens when the landlord has initiated the termination process and the tenant refuses to allow access.
The landlord can contact the Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. They will contact the tenant and in many situations are able to secure the tenants cooperation without taking legal action.

And what happens when the landlord has followed the rules, has his plumber with him to address a plumbing issue or water issue and cannot get into the rental unit with his key because the lock has been changed?
The tenant does not have the right to change the locks without the landlord’s consent.  If the landlord discovers that the locks have been changed, he can contact the the Investigation Unit or file an L8 Application with the Landlord and Tenant Board requiring the tenant to provide the landlord with a replacement key or pay the cost of changing the lock.

And I’d expect that some landlords may not follow the rules, what happens to them?
It is an offence to enter a rental unit without first complying with the requirements of the Act.  A landlord can be fined up to $25,000 if found guilty of an offence under the Act.

Silvana, thank you for all of the information you’ve provided in this podcast.
You’re welcome.

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This has been Sound Advice for Landlords. The material presented in this podcast is intended as general information, it is not legal advice.  Sound Advice for Landlords is a production of Landlord’s Self-Help Centre, a community clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario.  To learn more about Landlord’s Self-Help Centre and the podcast project at www.landlordselfhelp.com.  Send your feedback to info@landlordselfhelp.com.

Copyright 2008 Landlord’s Self-Help Centre. 

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