Well, the October weather has arrived! Bring on the pumpkin-spice lattes, knitted scarves, fall boots and turn on that furnace. We have been receiving a lot of phone calls to our emergency lines for furnace repairs and heating issues this week. And so it begins.
It is important for tenants and landlords to know their rights according to the Landlord and Tenant Board through the Residential Tenancies Act, specifically when it comes to heating a rental unit around this time of year. We highly recommend that landlords schedule an annual furnace inspection around the end of August to ensure that the furnace is in operating order for the fall.
Whether your lease includes utilities in the monthly rent or the tenants are responsible for paying their own utilities, the landlord must ensure the heat is in working order for the tenants’ use during their time of tenancy.
If the landlord provides heat to the rental unit (i.e. heat is included in the monthly rent), the Act requires the landlord to keep the heat in the unit at a minimum of 20 degrees Celsius between September 1 and June 15 of any given year. In addition to this, many municipalities across Ontario have their own regulations regarding heating of a rental unit. You can contact your local municipality to inquire and obtain further information on these bylaws. The City of Guelph’s Property Standards Bylaw, for example, requires each rental unit to maintain a minimum indoor temperature of 21 degrees Celsius in all occupied areas of the unit. Guelph’s Bylaw also states that no portable heating equipment shall be used as a permanent primary source of heat in any room.
Tenants: If you are responsible for paying your own utilities and the furnace breaks down, you should contact your landlord immediately for this repair. They must ensure that the furnace or means of heating is in good working order during your tenancy. If your landlord fails to provide heat to the unit in accordance with the RTA, you may submit an application to the LTB to have the Board determine the appropriate remedy.
With the cooler weather arriving and winter temperatures fast approaching, tenants are reminded that windows should be kept closed to preserve heat in the unit. If you as the tenant have any plans to leave the rental unit unattended for a weekend or any extended period of time, please ensure that the heat is left on to prevent pipes from freezing and damage being caused to the unit. You have been warned! If the pipes freeze and burst causing a flood in the unit, it is often the responsibility of the tenant who shut off the heat to pay for the cost of repairs and replacement of the property that has been damaged.
So now that you know your rights and obligations as landlords and as tenants, you should be prepared for what this cooler weather has in store for us.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Inspirah family!