Landlords are responsible for most rental unit repairs. Tenants are responsible for basic upkeep of a unit and for letting their landlord know when the unit needs maintenance. Tenants are also responsible for repairing any damage caused by people and pets living in or visiting their unit.
Landlords are responsible for most repairs to a rental unit. These repairs include:
Tenants are responsible for minor repairs, like changing a light bulb.
Landlords and tenants should do a condition inspection together at the start of the tenancy to have evidence of the unit's condition in case of any disagreements.
Landlords are responsible for regular repairs and maintenance, but are not responsible for damage caused by tenants, their pets or guests.
Tenants must request repairs in writing. The request should describe the problem and allow the landlord a reasonable about of time to make the repair.
Tenants should keep a copy of their repair request.
If the landlord does not make the repairs, the tenant may apply for dispute resolution.
Dispute resolution is a process to help resolve conflicts between landlords and tenants. By seeking dispute resolution, tenants can request:
Tenants must have the landlord's written agreement if they want to make repairs themselves and charge the landlord for the costs.
For a repair to be considered an emergency, it must be:
Repairs that do not meet all three criteria are not considered an emergency.
Tenants must contact the landlord or landlord's contact person to report the emergency and ask for repairs.
If the landlord or contact person doesn't respond, the tenant must:
Once the tenant has made two attempts to phone the emergency contact and allowed a reasonable amount of time to pass, the tenant can arrange to have the repairs done at a reasonable cost.
If the tenant does not have time or money to arrange the repairs, they can apply for dispute resolution through the participatory hearing process to request a repair order.
If the repair is urgent due to safety and security, the tenant can apply for dispute resolution through the expedited hearing process. Emergency repairs are a high priority when the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) is scheduling hearings.
If the landlord or their contact person was not available to arrange the emergency repairs, the landlord must reimburse the tenant. If the tenant has arranged repairs and they are underway, the landlord may decide to:
When requesting reimbursement for emergency repairs, tenants must send the landlord:
If the landlord does not cover the costs after the tenant provides the receipt and summary, the tenant can deduct the costs from the rent. The tenant should send a note with the rent payment that lets the landlord know why they have paid less rent.
Dealing with water damage is important for both landlords and tenants. Tenants should immediately report any water damage to their landlord. Landlords should fix water damage quickly to avoid more serious issues like mold growth.
Landlords and tenants have a shared duty to minimize each other’s losses when repair issues arise.
This means that both landlords and tenants must take reasonable steps to prevent damage from happening and lessen the impact when repairs are needed.
For example, if the tenant noticed the roof was leaking, minimizing loss might mean:
In the example of a leaky roof, minimizing loss as the landlord might mean:
If a repair is needed, the landlord should arrange for the repair to be made promptly.
If the landlord and tenant disagree about who is responsible for the cost of the repair, they can apply for dispute resolution through the participatory hearing process and have a Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator decide after the repair is made.
If a tenant requests a repair that is related to the health, safety or usability of the unit and the landlord hasn't responded in a reasonable amount of time, the tenant can apply for dispute resolution.
Dispute resolution is a process to help resolve conflicts between landlords and tenants. Before seeking dispute resolution, tenants should consider:
The Residential Tenancy Branch is unlikely to grant orders for repairs to make the unit more modern or look better.
Only an RTB arbitrator can decide whether the landlord has completed repairs within a reasonable amount of time.
Tenants who believe their landlord has not completed repairs in a reasonable amount of time can apply for dispute resolution. They can request orders for the landlord to:
Arbitrators use the age of an item when it is damaged to help determine:
Landlords and tenants can use the useful life of a damaged item to help them decide how to address repair issues. Policy guideline 40 (PDF, 89.4KB) contains the list of building elements and their useful life.
The tenant can apply for dispute resolution through the participatory hearing process if they are concerned that repairs were done in a way that:
They can request orders for the landlord to:
If the tenant deducts repair costs from the rent and the landlord believes:
The landlord can:
It’s the tenant’s job to inform the landlord when the unit needs maintenance.
Tenants must request repairs in writing: by email, letter or text message. The request should describe the problem and allow the landlord a reasonable amount of time to fix it. Tenants should keep a copy of the repair request as well.
If a landlord isn't meeting these responsibilities, tenants should:
Tenants are responsible for:
Tenants are also responsible for keeping the common areas around their rental unit reasonably clean.
Tenants with exclusive use of the yard are responsible for routine yard maintenance. This includes cutting the grass and shoveling snow in the winter.
At the end of the tenancy, tenants are responsible for:
Tenants are financially responsible for any damages caused by themselves, their guests or pets.
Tenants should talk to the landlord about any damages as soon as possible. Reporting damages early can help address the issues promptly and prevent them from becoming more severe.
Tenants must have the landlord's written agreement if they want to make repairs and charge the landlord for the costs. Learn how to resolve conflicts about repairs.
Landlords must provide rental units where tenants can expect to be safe and healthy.
Most municipal governments set out standards of maintenance bylaws. The Residential Tenancy Act says landlords must follow local bylaws.
Bylaws are different in each city, but usually cover topics like hot water and heating, pest control and maintaining the outside of the building.
Check with your local government to learn more about the standards of maintenance in your community.
Landlords must give the tenant an emergency contact name and phone number. They can give this contact to each tenant in writing or post it in a visible spot in a common area.
Landlords must ensure that the rental unit remains livable by maintaining the basic features of the rental unit, including:
Landlords are responsible for fixing and replacing any items that are specifically listed in the tenancy agreement, such as:
Landlords must consider tenants' rights to quiet enjoyment when planning or scheduling renovations during the tenancy.
Landlords are generally responsible for controlling insect infestations, such as bedbugs.
Municipal Standards of Maintenance bylaws dictate whether the landlord is responsible for managing other pest infestations, such as rodents.
Wear and tear is minor damage that occurs in a rental unit over time due to regular use. These include:
Tenants are not responsible for wear and tear damages as they are considered part of the normal use of the rental unit during a tenancy.
Note: Landlords can't keep damage deposits for wear and tear damages.
Each strata has different rules about repairs. Landlords who rent units in strata buildings should be familiar with the rules for repairs in a strata. They should also clearly communicate to tenants:
Landlords who own buildings, which contains more than one rental unit are responsible for maintaining the shared areas. This includes:
Landlords can help prevent conflicts about repairs by giving tenants clear information in writing about who to contact for repairs and when to contact them. This information should include:
Tenants are less likely to accidentally damage appliances in the rental unit when they have information about how to use them properly. It’s a good idea for the landlord to give the tenant copies of the user manuals for:
It's also a good idea for the landlord to give the tenant written information about what type of light bulbs to use and how to change the bulbs in any unusual light fixtures in the unit, such as chandeliers, pot lights and fluorescent tube lights.
Policy guidelines explain how arbitrators interpret tenancy legislation.
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