Our tenant’s yard is filled with garbage. We have photographic evidence of this. What are our rights as landlords regarding getting this cleaned up?
I would first suggest writing a letter to your tenants with a reasonable timeframe for correcting this issue, and keeping a copy for yourself.
The next step would be to serve an N5 Notice for Disturbing Others, Damage or Overcrowding. This is a 20-day notice to terminate the tenancy, but the tenant can void the notice by correcting all of the issues in the details section of the form within7 days. If the mess is removed (and damage to property fixed, if that is required) then the matter is resolved. If not, then you may apply for an eviction hearing on an L2 application to the Landlord and Tenant Board on the 8th day.
The forms and instructions are available here http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/forms/ on the Board’s website.
If the matter does go to a hearing, you will need witnesses to help describe the problem, because you cannot rely on the photographs alone. Witnesses could include neighbours as well as property standards employees.
As an example, here is a relevant part of the Toronto City Municipal Code Property Standards Bylaw which can be found here:
“§ 629-10. Maintenance of yards and property.
- Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prevent the lawful storage and keeping of material in or on any non-residential property, if a lawful use requiring that material is conducted on the property and the materials are stored in a neat and orderly fashion.
- All yards and any other part of a property shall be kept clean and free from accumulations of junk, rubbish, brush, refuse, litter, garbage and other debris, and any conditions that are health, fire or other hazards…”
Do the same rules regarding ending a tenancy apply whether it’s a fixed-term lease or a month-to-month lease?
The rules are indeed the same whether the agreement is month-to-month or for a fixed term.
Unless there is a clear agreement to terminate between the parties, the tenant should give at least 60 days’ written notice (usually on an N9 form), whereas the landlord may only give notice if they have a reason allowed by the Act, and the reason used would then determine the number of days’ notice that the tenant must be given.
Temporary agreements to move out and return must be arranged by the parties themselves.
I needed to do some maintenance work in the rental unit, but the tenant found a separate company to do the work and sent me the bill afterwards. What can I do about this situation?
It is very important to make sure that you instruct your tenants to inform you of any maintenance issues that arise at the rental unit. When beginning a tenancy, provide your tenant with the Landlord and Tenant Board Brochure on Maintenance and Repairs which can be found at http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/documents/ltb/Brochures/Maintenance%20and%20Repairs%20(EN).pdf
In response to this situation, you can provide your tenant with a letter to remind them that they are to contact you about any maintenance issues before taking the matter into their own hands, and are to provide you with a reasonable amount of time to respond and address the issue(s). Make sure to include your contact information in this letter as well, so that the tenant is aware of how they can reach you. As the landlord, you should be provided with the opportunity to address the situation and provide a solution.
Obtain another quote on the work that was done to see if the bill the tenant sent you is for a reasonable amount. If it is, you can reimburse the tenant the full amount. If it is not, you can offer the tenant a different amount. If the tenant does not find this acceptable, they can file an application against you at the Landlord and Tenant Board to bring the matter in front of an Adjudicator who will make a final decision.
I currently have major drain work which I need to carry out in my rental property. This is due to the tree roots outside the house which blocked the connection to the city drain. This affects my existing tenant’s ability to use the water & washrooms. I have offered my tenant who is a single professional another similar unit without any charge as a way to compensate for the inconvenience. What are my obligations in this circumstance?
Your general obligation under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 is to maintain the property and to comply with all health, safety and housing standards. There are no specific guidelines that outline how a landlord should remedy any specific problem that may arise in the area of repair.
There is a separate procedure for long term planned renovations that require building permits and vacant possession by the tenant, but for emergency type scenarios such as yours, there is often the involvement of insurance companies and uncertain timelines because of contractor availability, etc.
As with any situation that requires water or electricity supply shut off, temporary inconvenience is a standard part of the process for all concerned. If you can offer your tenant somewhere else to live at your expense during the time of the repair, then this seems reasonable. If the tenant suggests a hotel or other accommodation, which is what an insurer often provides in similar situations, then you will have to reach some kind of compromise if you want to get on with getting the work done.
The landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining the rental unit in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and in compliance with health, safety and housing standards. It does not matter if the tenant was aware of the state of non-repair before they entered into the tenancy agreement. If a landlord does not maintain the property, the tenant can file an application with the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order to have the repairs done as well as an abatement of rent and reimbursement for any repairs they have done themselves. Although the Residential Tenancies Act does not permit a tenant to withhold rent because of maintenance issues, many tenants will do this to encourage the Landlord to bring a non-payment of rent application to the Board at which time the tenant can bring up the maintenance issues.
Potential tenants want my rental unit regardless of the condition and have offered to sign an agreement to renovate it, what can I do?
It is not advisable to enter into such an agreement. It is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property and ensure that it is in a good state of repair, the landlord cannot pass on that responsibility to the tenant. If they move in under these conditions and then decide against doing the work you would still be obligated to do it and they can claim an abatement of rent based on the unit not being in a good state of repair.
You may still be required to repair the air conditioner if it was in the rental unit when the new tenant moved in. Although there may have been no mention of providing air conditioning in your Tenancy Agreement, once the tenant began using the existing air conditioner it became an implied agreement that the air conditioner is provided and therefore you are responsible to maintain it.
On our lease agreement, it states that the tenants have to mow the lawn in the backyard. What notice can I give them so they keep their word that they will take care of the lawn and keep the area clean?
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 states that maintenance issues are the responsibility of the landlord. Therefore, your issue is one which involves contract law and we do not advise in this area. You may wish to seek the advice of a lawyer or paralegal.
My tenants moved into my unit and notified me that they found mould in the house. I had a company come to do an assessment, and they are quoting $6500-$7500 to correct the problem. Should I tell the tenants to move out until the problem is corrected?
Dealing with mould issues in a rental property can be a bit challenging, and it doesn’t help that the law does not set out clear guidelines on how to deal with this type of situation. The first step for you would be to meet with your tenants and try to come up with a plan on how to deal with the problem. If they have to move out temporarily while you get the problem corrected, you should offer them a rent rebate for the time that they’re out of the unit, or offer to pay for their accommodation costs. It is really up to both parties to work something out. If they chose to move out instead and terminate their tenancy, then you should both sign an Agreement to Terminate the Tenancy which is a Form N11, this form can be obtained from the Landlord and Tenant Board’s website at http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/forms/
My tenant informs me there is a wasp nest on the outside of the home. Am I responsible for getting rid of the nest?
The Residential Tenancies Act, Section 20 states that “a landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards.” When it comes to any kind of pest infestation in a rental unit, it is the landlord’s responsibility to deal with the problem.
Is the landlord responsible for the rodent control (mice) inside the building or is the commercial tenant responsible?
We only deal with residential tenancies and therefore cannot advise on commercial rental properties. For general information on commercial tenancies, contact the Commercial Tenancies Automated Information System at 416-585-7373.
The landlord is responsible for maintaining the property which includes clearing the snow and mowing the lawn. If a tenant agrees to do these tasks, the tasks should be clearly laid out in the tenancy agreement. In the event that the tenant fails to live up to the terms of the agreement, it is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner.
I have a new tenant who says she can charge me $10 a week for not putting her garbage and recycling out at the curb. I have owned the 5 unit building since 2005 and have never had to collect and place a tenant’s garbage at the curb. Do I have to?
This is an issue that is not really addressed in the Residential Tenancies Act. It is usually up to the landlord and the tenant to work out an agreement at the beginning of the tenancy on how the garbage and recyclable items will be collected. If there is nothing in your tenancy agreement about it, you can try taking the position that all other tenants in the building take out their own garbage and it’s understood that would apply to her also. However, if she is insisting to charge you for it, your only recourse would be to take the matter to the Landlord and Tenant Board for a decision.
I have a 5 unit building and in the past, the tenants got together and split the cost to hire a plow to remove the snow. One of my tenants is now saying that it is the responsibility of the landlord to have the snow removed. Is this true?
When it comes to snow removal, this is usually part of the landlord’s maintenance obligations. It’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the rental property complies with any health, safety, housing and maintenance standards, is kept in a good state of repair, and is fit for habitation. In some cases, tenants might agree to take on this task. If this is the case, it should be clearly stated in the tenancy agreement. However, if they don’t comply, it can be difficult for landlords to enforce and the landlord may still be held responsible. If the municipality gets involved, they will order the property owner to take care of the problem, not the tenant.
Most tenants will usually do it themselves; however, the Act states that tenants are only responsible for ordinary cleanliness of the unit. Therefore, this would fall under the landlord’s maintenance obligations.
A tenant has a bathtub drain that is not working, and is demanding that the landlord pay for the plumbing costs to repair. The tenant doesn’t maintain orderly cleanliness of the unit. Who bears responsibility for the cost of repair in this case?
Section 20 of the Residential Tenancies Act states that “a landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards.” The landlord can only hold the tenant responsible if the landlord can prove that the tenant is the one that has caused the problem. If it can’t be proven then the landlord has to pay the cost to repair.