When asked how often a landlord should check up on their property, some might say “anytime I want. The property belongs to me after all.” Ever had the same thought?
Or been curious to know how often can a landlord actually inspect a property in Ontario?
Here’s the simple answer: As a landlord, you have limited rights of entry. Landlord visits were a subject over which there was continuing disagreement and so, today, the issue is governed by local tenancy laws.
If you defy those laws and your tenant(s) takes action, the consequences can be pretty costly, specifically when the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) finds you guilty.
For example, the tenant can be entitled to rent abatement, compensation, or be given the permission to end the lease and leave your property.
To be safe from that, here are a couple of things you should know about when you can inspect your rental property and when you can enter it for any other purpose(s).
You Must Give 24-Hour Written Notice
In Ontario, you are required to give your tenants a 24-hour notice stating why you want to enter or inspect the rental property, the date and the time you intend to do so, plus any other activities you plan to carry out, like taking pictures.
Keep in mind some tenants are of the view that landlords only want to make inspections on the rental property so they can find something that will count as a reason to charge the tenants back for damages. So, besides being a legal requirement, a notice can help assure your tenants you are acting in good faith.
According to the tenancy law, you are only required to set foot on the premises between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., except when it’s an emergency or for any of the reasons you will find below.
Provided you’ve given notice to your tenant, you can enter and inspect the premises at the stated time, even if the tenant is not at home.
Each tenant affected by your visit to the premises must be given notice. And if not signed by you, it has to be signed by your agent.
Can a Tenant Refuse Entry to a Landlord?
Yes, a tenant can refuse entry to their landlord; however, this is applicable only in specific circumstances. You will learn about them shortly. According to the Residential Tenancies Act and the Human Rights Code, tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment of the rental premises and to privacy.
On What Grounds Can I Enter The Premise With Notice?
As a landlord, you can enter your rented out property under these conditions, provided you have given notice to your tenants:
- To perform an inspection to determine if repairs are needed
- To conduct repairs or do other work to the rental unit
- To allow a prospective purchaser, insurer, or mortgagee to view the rental unit
- To allow an architect, engineer, or a person in a similar professional to carry out an inspection
- For any reason allowed as stated in the rental agreement
On What Grounds Can I Enter the Premise Without Notice?
According to the law, there are situations in which you, as the landlord, are allowed to enter the premises between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. without giving your tenants a 24-hour notice. They include if:
- The lease allows you to clean, maintain, or inspect the premises. Either you or your employees can enter the property specifically for that purpose.
- The tenancy is in the process of termination. You can enter the property to inspect it for readiness for prospective clients. You can show the rental unit to those prospective tenants as well.
- There’s the reason(s) to believe the tenant has deserted the rental unit. For example, if the tenant has failed to settle their rent and there are no signs of residents at the property.
- You have a court order or arbitrator’s order to enter the premises.
Also, the law allows you to enter the property without giving notice and at any time under the following conditions if:
- There’s an emergency on the property. These would include a flood, a fire, or a sick occupant. Thus, entry is necessary in order to protect life or property.
- The tenant has allowed you to enter the unit.
- You and a tenant under home care have an agreement in writing in which you can regularly come to check up on their condition.
That said, let’s now answer the earlier question, which is “how often can a landlord inspect a property in Ontario?”
How Often Should I Check Up on My Rental Property in a Year?
There are specific situations that may necessitate the need for an inspection of your rental property. For example, when a tenant is moving out, you will have to carry out an inspection to determine whether they left the property in the same state they found it, taking into consideration the typical wear and tear.
That aside, it would be great if you checked on your rental property during the term of the lease so if there’s a problem, you can find a proper solution before it becomes worse.
An inspection of your rental property one to three times a year within the normal realm. However, you are free to do it even quarterly, provided you comply with the tenancy laws applicable to this situation. No property is immune from maintenance issues.
In fact, they are a common occurrence. It could be an overloaded circuit, clogged drains, pests, roof leaks, furnace repairs, and so on.
Another situation is if your property is fitted with installations that have to be taken good care of by the occupant. An example is hardwood floors.
Normally, you would expect the tenant to use a wet mop on them. But you won’t be able to find out if they are taking good care of it unless you do an inspection.
Generally, as a landlord, the only way you can find out about these or other related issues is by carrying out inspections at specific intervals and giving due notice to your tenants where applicable.
If you have been the landlord who never did inspections at all or was unaware of how to go about the entire process, take this guide as your starting point. Remember, there are legal ramifications for not complying with the tenancy law applicable to landlord visits.
Based on what we’ve discussed, you can avoid legal problems if you observe the requirements of a landlord notice to enter your property in Ontario and the inspector pays a visit for a valid reason.
It would be great if you also let your tenants know about your inspection routine when they move in. Explain to them how you perform the inspections, maintenance, repairs, and other tasks.
If you do so, they won’t be surprised when you show up or give them due to notice, which will then minimize the possibility of a complaint.
Generally, regular inspections, combined with proper tenant screenings by a reputable property management company, are two of the best projects you can undertake as a landlord to protect and take good care of your investment.