Landlord’s maintenance obligations – Part 2

In part 1 of this four-part blog, we talked about the legislation governing landlords’ maintenance obligations. More specifically, we covered Section 20 of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). It is worth a deeper dive to really understand the intent and application of the legislation.

The most important part of Section 20 is that a landlord must keep a property “in a good state of repair and fit for habitation” and “complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards.” This would cover things like leaky windows, leaky plumbing, and exposed insulation due to missing drywall. Any of these things would make the unit unfit for habitation or non-compliant with health and safety standards. Without question the landlord has a legal obligation to fix these types of things in a reasonable amount of time. At GK3 Group we take these matters very seriously and our staff work to resolve them as quickly as possible.

For other types of maintenance requests that are cosmetic or not breaching any standards, the landlord does not have any obligations to repair. For example, if a tenant wants to have their laminate floors replaced to a more modern colour, or if they want their unit painted based solely on colour preference, Section 20 of the RTA would not apply. Of course, you can always talk to your landlord about any requests you have, and these types of elective repairs might get done; the point we are making here is that there is no legal obligation.

There are going to be instances where the landlord and tenant do not have a meeting of the minds in terms of what meets the definition set out in Section 20. In those cases, there are resources available to help you understand if you have a case or not.

In part 3 of this series, we will cover what steps you can take to ascertain whether you have a valid breach of Section 20 or not. It is not always simple to figure out. However, it is important to remember that open and respectful communication between the landlord and tenant should always be the first step to resolve maintenance issues, and in our experience, utilizing formal recourse mechanisms is generally not necessary. It is always our attempt to resolve things as quickly and efficiently as possible and being open minded to the tenant’s concerns.