3.2 Standard Repairs
Landlords are generally responsible for making repairs to your rental unit. Every landlord in BC has a legal obligation to repair and maintain their rental property so that it meets health, safety and housing standards. To learn more about these standards, refer to the Residential Tenancy Branch’s Policy Guideline #1, and check to see if your City has a Standards of Maintenance Bylaw.
Your landlord is also responsible for pests and mold. If you have bedbugs, mice, cockroaches or other nasty critters living in your unit, your landlord should hire a professional pest control company to remove them. Your landlord should also address serious mold issues that you are unable to safely or adequately clean up on your own.
Tenants are responsible for maintaining reasonable health, cleanliness and sanitary standards. Even if you are a clean and tidy person, you will notice that eventually things start wearing out. As a tenant, you are not responsible for this natural “wear and tear” that results from reasonable use of the rental unit. For example, the natural deterioration of the carpets.
However, when you, your guests, or your pets cause damage beyond “wear and tear”, such as a broken window, you are responsible for that damage. Contact your landlord and work out a solution for how the repair will be completed. In most cases, the landlord will hire a qualified professional, and ask you for payment.
When something goes wrong in your rental unit, you should let your landlord know as soon as possible, even if it wasn’t your fault. If you don’t notify your landlord and further damage is caused, you could be held responsible for the problem getting worse. For example, if you don’t report bed bugs immediately and the infestation spreads, you may have to pay for some of the treatment costs.
No, it is not too late. Your landlord must always ensure that your rental property is up to standards. This means that, if you moved into a place that has maintenance or safety issues, your landlord has a legal responsibility to deal with those issues, even if you knew about them when you entered into your tenancy.
Try to make all repair requests in writing and keep copies for yourself. See TRAC’s template letter, Request for Repairs. Once you have made a request, give your landlord a reasonable period of time to fix the problem. A “reasonable period of time” depends on how serious the issue is, and how significantly it interferes with your use of the rental property.
If your landlord ignores your request for repairs, send them a second letter or apply for dispute resolution. The Residential Tenancy Branch can order your landlords to make repairs and to pay you for any violation of quiet enjoyment caused by a delay in making repairs.
Check to see if your community has a Standards of Maintenance Bylaw. If so, a city inspector may be able to come to your rental unit and order your landlord to make repairs.
No matter how you go about getting the problem fixed, don’t withhold your rent! The law does not allow you to withhold rent for standard repairs, and your landlord could legally evict you for doing so.
On the next page there is an activity that will test your knowledge about repairs. Read the case study and choose the best possible answer for each question privided.