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  • Writer's pictureArash Ehteshami

How to deal with a landlord who refuses to make repairs or maintain the property

Updated: Feb 7

Sometimes landlords may neglect or refuse to make necessary repairs or maintain your rental unit. This can affect your health, safety, comfort, and enjoyment of your home. In this blog post, we will explain what you can do if you find yourself in such a situation. Please note that we will be focusing on non-emergency repairs. If you need emergency repairs, we encourage you to review RTB Policy Guideline 51, at page 5.

Step 1: Notify your landlord in writing

The first thing you should do when something in your rental unit needs to be fixed or maintained is to notify your landlord in writing as soon as possible. TRAC has a number of useful template letters, including one for Repairs and Maintenance that can be found here.

You should describe the problem clearly and include any relevant details such as when it started, how it affects you, and what you want your landlord to do about it. Setting a deadline for your landlord will be helpful, but make sure that it’s reasonable. For example, if you can’t use your dishwasher because there is something wrong with it, it would be reasonable to ask your landlord to address the issue within one or two weeks. In that same example, it would not be reasonable to ask your landlord to attend the next day, unless you are dealing with an emergency. You should also keep a copy of your letter and any evidence of the problem such as photos or videos, in case you need to use these later on at a dispute before the Residential Tenancy Branch.

If you delay and the problem gets worse, you could be held responsible for at least some of the related costs – even if the original problem was not your fault.

Step 2: Apply for a repair order

If your landlord does not respond or refuses to address the issue within a reasonable period (usually between 15-30 days), you can apply for a repair order through the Residential Tenancy Branch's dispute resolution service.

An arbitrator will review your application and schedule a hearing where both parties can present their case. The arbitrator will then make a decision based on the evidence and the law. If they find that your landlord has breached their obligations under the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), they can order them to make the repair or maintenance within a specified time frame.

In addition, you can apply for monetary compensation from your landlord for ignoring your written request, as well as a rent reduction until the repair or maintenance has been completed.

We recommend that you seek legal advice ideally before filing an application with the RTB, as the details you include in your application to the RTB are sometimes closely scrutinized by arbitrators. If you have already filed an application, we still recommend that you seek legal advice to find out how to best present your case before the arbitrator.

Step 3: Follow up on the repairs

If you attended a hearing before the RTB and were granted a repair order that has not been followed by your landlord within the time frame given by the arbitrator, you can take further action to enforce it. We recommend you reach out to us for assistance, as there are different ways of enforcing such an order and we want to ensure that we recommend the best way for your situation.


Dealing with a landlord who refuses to make repairs or maintain the property can be frustrating and stressful. However, you have rights as a tenant that protect you from living in substandard conditions. If you have any questions about how best to deal with requesting repairs or maintenance of your unit, or would like to find out more about your rights as a tenant, feel free to get in touch with us!



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