Tenent rights and emergency repairs

As part of the Kuu-us Crisis Line Society’s ongoing series on homelessness issues, this article focuses on tenants’ rights when emergency repairs are necessary.

Tenants and property owners both have responsibilities in maintaining and repairing the rental unit. Property owners are responsible to repair and maintain the rental unit; whereas the tenant is accountable for repairing damage done by themselves, their pets, or guests.

At times an emergency repair may be needed which is not the responsibility of the tenant. Repairs are considered emergency only if the health or safety of tenants or building is at risk. Examples of emergency repairs are:

– Major leaks in pipes or roof

– Damaged or blocked water/sewer pipes or plumbing fixtures

– Primary heating system

– Malfunctioning electrical system

– Damaged or defective locks

By law, a property owner must post an emergency contact number and phone number in a visible place or provide the number in writing to all tenants.

If an emergency arises, tenants must try to contact the emergency number at least twice while giving enough time in between for the property owner to call you back.

Please keep a written record of the times and dates of each call.

When the emergency contact responds, tenants must allow a realistic time for the repair to be done.

If the emergency contact does not respond, the tenant can get the repairs done as long as he costs are sensible and repair done correctly. At any time the landlord may take over and pay for work done up to that point.

It is recommended that you call different businesses to get estimates. Write down all the prices and hire the cheapest one that is qualified to do the job.

Keep all receipts, as your property owner has to pay you back the cost of the emergency repairs if you followed the process required by the Residential Tenancy Act. Give a copy of the receipts to your property owner and you keep the original.

If your property owner does not give you the money back, you can deduct it from your rent.

If you need more money from the property owner for damages to your stuff (i.e. in a flood that was the landlord’s fault) and you and the property owner cannot agree on a fair settlement then you can apply for dispute resolution.

It is recommended that all tenants have tenant insurance to cover damage and your belongings.

Should you wish to access AHRI services for advocacy, landlord/tenant mediation, for landlords wishing to post a vacancy in the housing registry, please call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 250-723-4050.

The KUU-US Crisis Line Society operates the Aboriginal Homeless Response Initiative (AHRI) program, among others.