What are my landlord’s obligations when my home is damaged?
By Nathan Guss|6 min|March 2023
Learn which costs your landlord must cover and which ones you are responsible for when your unit is damaged.
When an accident or disaster damages a home, repair and reconstruction costs can be steep. If you’re a tenant, you’re probably wondering who is going to pay for all that expensive work and other related costs, such as relocating to temporary housing and storing your belongings. Are you or your landlord on the hook? What happens when other people (aka third parties) are involved in the incident? Whose insurance will pay? While liability varies based on provincial and municipal laws and specific insurance policies, here’s an overview of who usually pays for what.
When the landlord pays
The property owner must pay for damages to structural aspects of the unit caused by incidents that are no one’s fault. He or she should have landlord or homeowner’s insurance to cover these expenses. If your rented home has been hit by hail, wind, flooding or a fire, your landlord will be the one filing a claim.
Landlords are also responsible for meeting the local housing code’s minimum health and safety standards. This generally includes maintaining and repairing roofs, plumbing, electricity and other fundamental aspects that make the home liveable. This work must be done in a timely manner.
When you pay
That said, you will be responsible for damages caused by your intentional, unintentional or illegal actions. That means you would usually be responsible for damages if you forget to turn off a bathtub faucet and flood the unit. If you are so unwise as to practise fire juggling in your living room and your home catches fire, you’ll pay for repairs. Not surprisingly, the same goes when the unlicensed cannabis nursery in your walk-in closet causes mould damage to your home’s walls.
Furthermore, you should make emergency repairs when needed or you may be liable for damages. For example, if a pipe bursts, you’re expected to cut off the water to limit the problem. Conversely, regardless of who is responsible for an accident, landlords who fail to make emergency repairs when they could have done so are often required to pay for repairs.
Small, cosmetic issues, such as dripping faucets or peeling paint, are generally not the landlord’s responsibility. The property owner may even deduct such repairs from your deposit at the end of the lease if the wear and tear occurred during your stay.
When neighbours or other third parties cause damages to your home, they are liable. In this case, their homeowner’s or business insurance should cover reconstruction. For example, if a neighbour’s tree crashes through your rental unit’s roof, his or her homeowner’s or renter’s insurance should have a liability clause that will pay for repairs. Similarly, if a contractor doing work on a nearby home creates drainage problems that lead to flooding in your home, his or her coverage will normally pay for damages.
In most cases, the property owner doesn’t need to repair or replace a tenant’s lost or damaged belongings when an incident occurs. But if you have renter’s insurance, these items should be covered. Keep in mind that you may not receive full compensation for high-value, high-end items, such as jewelry or art, unless you purchased extra coverage.
Additional living expenses during repairs
Your landlord is generally not required to pay for the extra expenses you incur when damages make your home unsafe or impractical to live in, even if the damaging event in question is insured under the landlord’s policy. That said, some provinces and municipalities require landlords to pay for extra expenses, so check local laws and regulations. And some landlords are willing to pay for these expenses or lower your rent.
Fortunately, most renter’s insurance policies have an additional living expenses (aka ALE) clause that covers you in this situation. It will pay for the costs of moving, relocating to a temporary home, boarding your pets, storing property, eating in restaurants, among other things. Speak with your claims adjuster to learn what is covered.
If you don’t have ALE coverage, you can ask your landlord for a rent reduction (otherwise known as a rent abatement) or cancel the lease so you can find housing elsewhere. However, if you do have it, keep paying your rent: otherwise, you’ll affect the reimbursement of your extra expenses.
Learn more about finding temporary accommodation
Are you looking for temporary housing?
SiniSTAR can help you find a comfortable temporary home that meets your needs. Browse our website and find furnished, fully equipped accommodations in your area.
By Nathan Guss|7 min|March 20235 Tips for making your temporary accommodation family-friendly
Are you getting ready to host a family in your temporary accommodation and want them to have the be...
By Nathan Guss|2 min|March 2023The 6 Best Disaster Restoration Companies in Toronto
If a fire, flood, vandalism, wind or other serious disaster has struck your home, you’ll need the s...
By Nathan Guss|7 min|March 2023What to do if your tenant’s home is damaged
When flooding, a fire or some other disaster makes your rental unit uninhabitable, you’re probably ...
By Nathan Guss|7 min|March 2023Short-term rental regulations in British Columbia in 2023: what you should know
British Columbia has among the most stringent short-term rental (STR) regulations in Canada. Althou...
By Nathan Guss|6 min|March 2023What are my landlord’s obligations when my home is damaged?
When an accident or disaster damages a home, repair and reconstruction costs can be steep. If you’r...
By Nathan Guss|14 min|February 2023Guide to filing a home insurance claim
When your home has been damaged in a disaster, filing a home insurance claim can seem daunting. Thi...
By Nathan Guss|4 min|February 2023Should I hire a public claims adjuster?
Most people have never heard of a claims adjuster, but they become a crucial person in your life wh...
By Nathan Guss|13 min|January 2023How to become a claims adjuster in home insurance
Are you interested in construction, negotiations and the details of insurance policies? Do you have...
By Nathan Guss|8 min|January 2023What you need to know about home insurance
Homeowner’s insurance protects the major investment you’ve made in your home. Unless you have an ex...