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The rights and responsibilities of being a landlord

Being a good landlord is relatively simple when you have good tenants. As a landlord, your job is to make sure your rental property adheres to all municipal codes when it comes to maintenance, safety, zoning bylaws, health standards and municipal property standards.

When you find yourself with a tenant who is not paying rent or who violates any lease agreement, you will have to try to resolve the issue with the tenant. However, there are times when that won't be possible and you might have to go the legal route to resolve any issues.

Keeping the property in proper repair

As a landlord, you are responsible for keeping the rental properties habitable by keeping up with normal wear and tear repairs. That includes any appliances that belong to you on the property. Reasonable repairs are par for the course in the life of a landlord.

Here are some normal repairs you may have to contend with at some point:

  • Inside doors not closing properly
  • Burnt out stove elements
  • Slow-draining sinks
  • Small roof leaks
  • Minor plumbing leaks
  • Faulty garage door opener
  • Cracked windows

Then there are emergency repairs. Landlords know there are times when things happen in a rental property that need to be taken care of right away.

Some emergency repairs could include:

  • Pipes bursting with the potential for flooding
  • Heating system not working in the coldest weather
  • Defective door locks that make a property unsafe
  • Faulty wiring that short circuits with a potential for fire or for someone being electrocuted
  • Broken appliances such as refrigerators and stoves

Handling a difficult tenant

As a landlord, you're likely to get a less than stellar tenant here and there. Perhaps they're always late paying rent, if they pay at all, or they're noisy or keep the premise dirty. Knowing how to broach these issues with a tenant may help the situation.

Sometimes simply talking to a tenant does the job. Just explain that what they're doing is affecting other tenants. On the other hand, a politely worded note might work. Bylaw violations may need police intervention. If tenants are breaking laws, you should call the police. For instance if you suspect your tenant is selling drugs or alcohol, it's time for the authorities to get involved.

When tenants don't pay

This is a time when you must act quickly. You should ask them to move out. You should give them a notice for rent non-payment, which would include the total amount they owe, the date by which you want them out of the property and a statement telling them they have the right to dispute the notice.

Where to turn for help

As a landlord, you can get the help of the provincial rental authority to get the tenant to move out. However, you will need to file papers properly. There are resources readily available to you by those who have the necessary experience in real estate law to guide you through every step of the process of removing a tenant from your property.

A real estate lawyer will be fully knowledgeable of Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act and could guide you accordingly regarding your rental property issues.

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