Having worked with landlords and tenants for years, whether a large complex or small, I find there is a general misunderstanding about maintenance.
“A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. 2006, c. 17, s. 20 (1).”
Section 20 (above) of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) may be one of the most important sections of the act for landlords, as lack of compliance can lead to dire consequences ranging anywhere from the inability to obtain an eviction order, or to an order preventing the landlord from raising the rent.
The Divisional Court decision of Offredi v. 751768 provides an illustration. In this case a number of tenants filed an application against the landlord for general poor level of maintenance throughout the complex. Despite the claims of the landlord who argued that the tenants where responsible for the poor conditions, the judge still found that the landlord is responsible for keeping the apartment unit or complex in a good state of repair and fit for habituation. In this case the tenants were awarded an abatement of rent.
Under the RTA there are numerous remedies which could consequence a landlord if found in breach of the landlord‘s responsibility for repair. Below are some examples.
1. If the tenant(s) feels there is a breach of the landlord’s responsibility for maintenance, the tenant may file a T6 application ($45.00) at the Landlord and Tenant Board. The landlord may appear before the Board and may be consequenced through a fine, abatement of rent, termination of tenancy or any other order that the Board considers appropriate.
2. If the landlord is attempting to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent section 82 of the act allows the tenant to raise any issue that could be the subject of an application made under the act. Which means a tenant can allege the existence of serious maintenance issues as a reason for their not paying the rent. (Although not a justifiable reason, nonetheless, it can be raised.)
3. Lack of maintenance may also lead to an Order Prohibiting Rent Increase (OPRI). If the Board finds the landlord is in violation of section 20, the Board may refuse the landlord any rent increase until the landlord has complied with his or her responsibilities.
In the city of Toronto a tenant or prospective tenant can go on-line to find if there are building violations in regard to a rental property. The discovery of past or outstanding work orders may dissuade a prospective tenant from renting from the premises or current tenants may lawfully use this information against a landlord’s pecuniary interests.
One final note, the landlord is responsible for maintenance even if the landlord rented the unit to the tenant “as is”. Regardless of the condition of the apartment unit or complex, it remains the responsibility of the landlord to make sure the rental unit or complex is kept up to the standards of the RTA.
 Residential Tenancies Act 2006, c. 17, s. 20 (1)
 (1994), 72 O.A.C. 235, 116 D.L.R. (4th) 757 (Ont. Div. Ct.)
 Residential Tenancies Act 2006, c. 17, s. 82 (1).