The roof is leaking! What to do in case of an emergency

As a renter, it’s not always easy to know how to respond in an emergency. Most people tend to panic. But you don’t need to. If rain starts pouring through your roof or the furnace stops working on a cold winter night, call your landlord. According to the law, your landlord is responsible for handling and paying for any and all emergency repairs. But what if you can’t get in touch with your landlord right away? Before hiring a professional to do any major repairs, read below to find out what constitutes an emergency, so you’ll know what to do.

What are Emergency Repairs?

Emergency repairs mean something has happened that can affect the health or safety of the tenant living in the unit/building.

I can’t Reach my Landlord

If there is an emergency, try and contact your landlord or the emergency contact number you have been given at least twice. Make sure you leave a message if you cannot get through to your landlord or maintenance staff and record the date and time of the calls. Allow for a reasonable amount of time after leaving your messages for your landlord to respond.

Some repairs must be performed immediately in order to minimize personal risk or damage of the rental property. If you absolutely cannot reach the landlord, you can authorize the necessary repair work yourself. Repairs can be authorized by an order from the rental authority in your respective province or territory.

If you need to authorize an emergency repair because you cannot reach your landlord, it’s vital to save any and all documentation related to the incident in a safe place. You will also want to ask the repairman to bill the landlord directly for all of the work done, as you are not required to pay for it. If payment is required immediately after the repair work, keep close track of expenses and immediately notify the landlord to ask for reimbursement.

If your landlord cannot be contacted before the necessary repairs are completed, he may choose to finish the repair work himself and pay for whatever work has been done up until that point. Your landlord may also allow the repair work to be done and choose to reimburse you for the cost of everything.

To make sure you don’t end up paying for something that is not an emergency, check out the following list to help you decide whether certain repairs are emergencies or if you can put them off a bit longer. But even with non-emergency repairs, you should notify your landlord as soon as possible during regular office hours.

Emergency Repairs
• Broken or burst pipes flooding the property
• Heating system broken when it is cold outside
• Backed up sewage system affecting the property
• Broken lock allows anyone to enter without the use of a key
• Short circuit in the wiring is creating a fire or electrocution hazard
• Broken refrigerator

Non-Emergency Repairs
• Interior door not closing properly
• Broken stove element
• Kitchen sink not draining properly
• Minor leak on roof
• Minor leak in household plumbing
• Garage door opener not working but still able to gain access manually
• Cracked window pane on upper floor of property

Source: cmhc-schl.gc.ca

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