Note: The following information relates specifically to for-profit rental housing (renting from an individual or business corporation) in Ontario. This includes renting an apartment unit, a house, a rooming house, basement apartment, condo apartment, etc.
The rules for Social Housing (TCHC), Non-Profit housing, Co-operative housing, Student dormatories, shelters, jail/prison, care homes, renting from another renter (not a landlord), or renting a space where you share a kitchen or bathroom with the landlord can be different.
Sometimes the processes are the same, and sometimes they are completely different depending on the type of housing you live in. For questions related to these types of housing please call our tenant hotline or check this page for more info.
One of the most common calls we receive on our hotline is related to landlords refusing to do repairs.
Landlords in Toronto are required to follow a host of City bylaws related to maintenance, vital services and apartment standards. While certain things are not required by City bylaws (ex: painting, cosmetic renovations), most common elements of maintenance are the responsibility of the landlord including things like repairing appliances, holes, structural integrity, pest control, garbage, snow removal and the cleanliness of common areas.
See: FMTA Short Guide to Property Standards
Doing maintenance is not a choice; it’s a minimum requirement if you’re a landlord who wants to earn rental income in Toronto. The following process is a common series of steps tenants can take to try to get the landlord to do repairs if they refuse:
Step 1) Write to your landlord and outline the repairs needed
The law will only recognize emails or texts if your landlord responds. If your landlord won’t respond to emails or texts, write a letter on paper, keep a copy and either mail or drop it off at your landlords address. This is enough to satisfy the law that the landlord knows about the repair issue.
Step 2) Call 3-1-1 and lodge a complaint with Municipal Licensing and Standards
City Inspectors enforce apartment standards in Toronto. Tenants are able to call 3-1-1 and outline their complaint. Operators at 3-1-1 will take down the tenants information and the landlords phone number and send it along to a Municipal Inspector.
An inspector should call you within 72 hours to either set up an appointment or to gather information in order to call the landlord and try to get voluntary compliance.
MLS inspectors have various powers to force landlords to comply with the law including the the ability to issue tickets, legal orders to comply with the law, prosecution in Provincial Offenses court and the City can do the repairs themselves and put the cost onto the landlords property taxes.
Note: The FMTA has received repeated complaints from tenants about MLS inspections including inspectors refusing to do inspections, refusing to issue reports and refusal to enforce City bylaws. Tenants with concerns about MLS inspections should report the issue to their City Councillor immediately.
Step 3) Taking your landlord to the Landlord and Tenant Board
Some tenants can’t get MLS to issue orders to repair. Other times an issue might be very bothersome but not against City bylaws. In these instances, tenants can file an application for a hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board and ask the Board to order the repairs.
The Board can also issue compensation for tenants who have suffered through maintenance, fines against landlords and allow tenants to use their rent money to pay for repairs themselves.
Note: Tenants wishing to work together to force the landlord to do maintenance can apply for a grant to hire legal representation via the Tenant Defence Fund.
Link: See the Outreach and organizing Team for more info https://fmta.nationbuilder.com/services