How to Protect Landlords From Potentially Major Repair Costs In Rental Properties
Wednesday Jan 19th, 2022
Landlords are always concerned about how their tenant is taking care of their rental property. Maintenance and repairs are inevitable with every property, and maintenance and repair expenses should be considered part of the cost of owning an investment property. Here are some things you need to know about your responsibilities as a landlord and how to best protect yourself from having to cover the cost of damage to your rental property due to the tenant’s negligence or deliberate actions.
What is reasonable “wear and tear”?
The term “wear and tear” is defined as normal aging or damage due to ordinary usage. If something is damaged in your rental property, assess whether it is due to a tenant’s negligence or whether it occurred due to reasonable wear and tear. If replacement or repair is required due to normal wear and tear, then it is the landlord’s responsibility to rectify this.
What is stated in the Lease Agreement?
The landlord is almost always responsible for the maintenance and repair of all components in a rental property including heating, water, and electrical systems. However, there may be special circumstances where the landlord and tenant agree to a different arrangement. The responsibilities for repairs and maintenance should be well documented in a Lease Agreement and adhere to the Residential Tenancies Act to be enforceable. Should either party renege on their agreed upon responsibilities, the contract can be used to require action or compensation.
Landlords have the right to perform reasonable inspections on their rental properties. It is typical to schedule these on an annual basis. Being aware of deteriorating components or the condition of the property will allow you to plan and budget for replacements or repairs. It will also help to avoid any surprises at the end of the lease once the tenants have moved out.
Role of the Landlord Tenant Board
Your best chance at holding your tenant responsible and accountable for damage due to their negligence or if deliberately caused, is to discover the damage prior to the tenant leaving. If the landlord became aware of an issue or COULD have become aware of an issue while the tenant was still in possession of the rental property, they must file a claim with the Landlord Tenant Board. While this process is cheaper than going through Small Claims Court, the responsibility is on the landlord to discover the damage and file the claim while the tenant is still in possession of the rental property. Doing a final walk-through on the day that the tenant is leaving may be too late.
If the tenant has moved out already and you discover damage that you feel was caused by that previous tenant and not subject to reasonable wear and tear, then you have up to 1 year to file an application with the Landlord Tenant Board to collect money owing from your previous tenant to cover the cost of the damage. However the onus is on the landlord to not only provide proof that the damage occurred during the tenancy, the details of the damage and the tenant’s current contact details in order to serve them with the requisite notices for the landlord’s applications.
Bottom line is:
- Landlords are responsible for keeping their rental properties in good order
- Landlords should perform regular (and reasonable) inspections of the property (and file to evict tenants who do not allow access for these inspections)
- Landlords should address items in need of attention or repair promptly (also to prevent minor issues into becoming bigger ones) and do not wait to collect compensation from the tenant if damage was caused by their negligence or willful behaviour
If you have any questions, please contact us. For more information, you can also contact the Landlord Tenant Board or we can provide you with a recommendation for paralegals who can also assist.