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Who is responsible for property repairs and maintenance in Ontario?

young repairman repairing under the sink


Maintaining a safe and habitable living environment is a shared responsibility between landlords and tenants in Ontario. The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) provides guidelines and regulations to ensure both parties understand their obligations. Let's explore the specific responsibilities of landlords and tenants when it comes to property repairs and maintenance.

Landlord Responsibilities

Landlords have certain legal obligations to ensure their rental properties are safe, clean, and well-maintained. These responsibilities include:

1. Health and Safety Standards

Landlords must comply with health and safety standards outlined in the RTA. This includes ensuring proper ventilation, providing potable water, and maintaining adequate heating and electrical systems. Landlords are also responsible for addressing any health hazards such as mold, pests, or lead-based paint.

2. Structural Maintenance

The structural integrity of the property falls under the landlord's responsibility. This includes repairs to the foundation, walls, roof, windows, and doors. Landlords must address any structural issues promptly to maintain the habitability of the property. Landlords will also need to comply to the standards set out in municipal bylaws or provincial maintenance standards.

3. Plumbing and Electrical Systems

Landlords are responsible for maintaining the proper functioning of plumbing and electrical systems. This includes repairing leaks, unclogging drains, fixing faulty wiring, and ensuring electrical outlets and fixtures are in good working condition.

4. Common Areas

If the property has common areas, such as hallways, staircases, or elevators, landlords are responsible for their maintenance and repairs. These areas should be kept clean, well-lit, and free from any hazards that may cause harm to tenants or visitors.

Tenant Responsibilities

Tenants also have certain responsibilities when it comes to property maintenance. These responsibilities include:

1. Ordinary Maintenance

Tenants are responsible for performing ordinary maintenance tasks that arise from everyday use. This includes tasks like light bulb replacements, regular cleaning, and maintaining cleanliness within their rented unit. Tenants should also promptly report any maintenance issues to the landlord.

2. Damage Caused by Tenants

Tenants are responsible for any damages they cause to the property beyond ordinary wear and tear. This includes damages caused by negligence, misuse, or intentional actions. It's crucial for tenants to inform the landlord of any damages and take necessary steps to rectify the situation.

3. Reporting Repairs

Tenants should promptly report any necessary repairs or maintenance issues to the landlord or property management. It is essential to document these requests in writing, including the date and details of the issue. This helps ensure that repairs are addressed in a timely manner.

Disputes and Resolutions

In some cases, disputes may arise between landlords and tenants regarding property repairs and maintenance. To resolve such issues, the following options are available:

1. Mediation and Arbitration

Mediation and arbitration are alternative dispute resolution methods that can help parties reach a mutually agreed-upon solution. Mediation involves a neutral third party facilitating discussions between the landlord and tenant, while arbitration involves a third party making a binding decision after considering both sides.

2. Legal Recourse

If mediation or arbitration fails to resolve the dispute, either party may choose to seek legal recourse. This typically involves filing an application with the Landlord and Tenant Board or pursuing a legal case in the court system.


In Ontario, both landlords and tenants have specific responsibilities when it comes to property repairs and maintenance. Landlords are responsible for ensuring the property meets health and safety standards, maintaining the structural integrity, and addressing issues with plumbing, electrical systems, and common areas. Tenants, on the other hand, are responsible for ordinary maintenance, reporting damages caused by them, and promptly reporting any necessary repairs. Clear communication and documentation of maintenance requests are crucial for resolving disputes and ensuring a well-maintained living environment.


Q: Can a landlord refuse to make repairs?
A: No, landlords are legally obligated to address necessary repairs to maintain a habitable living environment.

Q: What should I do if my landlord fails to make repairs?
A: Document the issue and communicate it to your landlord in writing. If the repairs are not addressed, you can seek mediation or legal recourse.

Q: Can a tenant be held responsible for pre-existing damage?
A: Generally, tenants are responsible for damages caused during their tenancy. However, it's important to document and report any pre-existing damage during the move-in inspection.

Q: Can a landlord increase the rent to cover repairs and maintenance costs?
A: Landlords cannot increase the rent solely for repairs and maintenance. Rent increases must comply with the guidelines set by the Residential Tenancies Act.

Q: Are tenants allowed to make repairs themselves?
A: Tenants should generally inform the landlord of any necessary repairs and allow the landlord or their designated professionals to address the issue.

In conclusion, understanding the responsibilities of landlords and tenants regarding property repairs and maintenance is crucial for a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship. By fulfilling their respective obligations, both parties contribute to creating a safe and well-maintained living environment in Ontario.
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