COVID-19 health and safety measures need to be taken by apartment building owners and operators. These measures include providing hand sanitizer in common areas, keeping non-essential common areas closed, cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, and posting Toronto Public Health signage.

RentSafeTO: Apartment Building Standards is a bylaw enforcement program that ensures that building owners and operators comply with building maintenance standards. The program includes auditing and enforcement, so that the hundreds of thousands of Toronto residents living in rental buildings have clean, safe and secure homes.

If you own one or more rental apartment buildings with three or more storeys and 10 or more units, you are required to register and renew annually to comply with the program. See Interpretation Bulletin: Apartment Building Definition.

Program Details

You must develop a process for receiving and tracking tenant requests for repairs and other issues, such as graffiti, long grass and weeds, litter and garbage, etc.

Requirements for Building Owners

  • Keep records of requests and the responses for 24 months, and show them to City staff if requested
  • Respond to urgent requests within 24 hours. Requests are urgent if they are related to the disruption of the following vital services:
    • hydro (electricity)
    • gas
    • heat
    • hot or cold water
    • breach of building security
    • problems with the outside of the building
  • Respond to non-urgent requests within seven (7) days
  • A record should be created for each request and must include:
    • date and time of service request
    • location of issue (including unit number)
    • nature of issue
    • tenant name and contact information
    • determination of whether it is an urgent or non-urgent request
    • details of response and action taken by building owner
  • You must be able to provide a copy of the information collected from the tenant
  • You must keep copies of all responses made by the owner or operator in relation to the service request

Example of an urgent service request:

At 8 a.m., a tenant notices that the lock on their door is broken. The tenant fills out a service request form. This will be an urgent request based on the safety and security of the unit. The landlord communicates with the tenant that this will be fixed by 12 noon on the same day as it is an urgent matter. The landlord also provides a copy of the service request form and response to the tenant, and keeps a copy for his/her records.

Until October 31, 2020, the Apartment Buildings Bylaw requires apartment building owners and operators to:

1. Provide hand hygiene stations or alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Apartment building owners and operators must provide hand hygiene stations or alcohol-based hand sanitizer in all common area rooms that remain open. These common areas include building entrances and laundry rooms.

More information about hand hygiene, including recommendations for alcohol-based hand sanitizer, can be found on Toronto Public Health’s Hand Hygiene webpage.

2. Ensure non-essential common areas remain closed

The Government of Ontario has ordered the closure of and/or limited access to certain business or places in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apartment building owners and operators must ensure that all common areas (such as gyms, playrooms, and other high-traffic areas) are closed and/or access is limited as required by provincial orders.

3. Clean frequently-touched surfaces in all open common areas

As part of the cleaning plan already required under the Apartment Building Bylaw, apartment building owners and operators must also include an updated schedule for cleaning frequently touched surfaces in common areas. These surfaces include: doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet handles, counters, hand rails, touch screen surfaces, and keypads located in common areas. These areas must be cleaned with common household cleaners and disinfectants twice daily and when visibly dirty.

4. Post Toronto Public Health signage

Apartment building owners and operators are required to post the following Toronto Public Health signage in their buildings:

The above bylaw requirements are in effect till October 31, 2020.

Mandatory masks in common areas

To protect the health and safety of our communities, the City has a temporary bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in common areas in apartment buildings.

As of August 5, 2020, apartment building owners must have a policy to ensure that everyone wears a mask or face covering while in enclosed common spaces, such as elevators, hallways, lobbies, laundry rooms, and any other shared facilities.

In addition, apartment building owners are required to:

  • Post signage at all entrances to enclosed common areas
  • Ensure that everyone working at the apartment building has been trained in the policy and bylaw
  • Provide a copy of the policy for inspection by City Bylaw Enforcement Officers, if requested

Please review the Toronto Public Health guidance documents for commercial and residential buildings. The City has created signage that building operators can print off and display in common areas. A fact sheet on how to properly and safely wear and care for a non-medical mask is also available on the City’s website.

Landlords are responsible for providing heat to a minimum air temperature of 21 degrees Celsius from September 15 to June 1. On warm days, it can reach this temperature without the heat on.

Please use your judgement. If outdoor weather raises the temperature of apartment units above 21 degrees Celsius, you can turn the heat off.

Learn about the heat bylaw and heating in your building during the “shoulder seasons” (May 1 – June 1 and September 15 – October 15).

As an owner or landlord of a residential building, you play an important role in protecting tenants from extreme heat. You can help protect your tenants and prevent heat-related illness by creating a hot weather plan.

The City’s updated 2020 Heat Relief Strategy reflects the current public health advice related to COVID-19, with guidance for safely operating apartment building cooling rooms, and other tips for apartment building landlords.

This summer, since most publicly accessible air-conditioned spaces are closed to the public due to COVID-19, the City will operate Emergency Cooling Centres across the city during Heat Warnings, as declared by Environment and Climate Change Canada. These Emergency Cooling Centres will open during Heat Warnings. Find the cool space closest to your apartment.

If a building has air conditioning provided by the landlord, the Property Standards bylaw requires that landlords turn it on between June 2 and September 14. But, if it is hot outside, landlords can turn it on earlier as long as the temperature does not go below 21 Celsius.

The Property Standards bylaw also requires building owners to ensure that all supplied facilities (including window air conditioning) are installed and maintained in a safe way.

Window Air Conditioning

City of Toronto bylaws do not prohibit window air conditioning units in apartment buildings.

Under the Property Standards Bylaw, landlords are responsible for ensuring window air conditioning units are installed and maintained to function safely and effectively. If the City determines that a window air conditioning unit may be unsafe, it may require the landlord to prove that a qualified tradesperson has installed, or confirmed proper installation and maintenance of, the window air conditioning unit. The City considers qualified tradespersons to be members certified under Ontario College of Trades and a City of Toronto business licence where required, or an accredited professional such as an engineer.

There are no City bylaw provisions requiring this proof from tenants or allowing landlords to require this proof from tenants. However, the terms of the lease agreement between the landlord (apartment building owner) and tenant may include requirements concerning air conditioning in the rental unit. Landlords and tenants may want to seek legal advice and information on how the Residential Tenancies Act applies.

Download the frequently asked questions on window air conditioning in apartment buildings.

Contractors for Maintenance

When servicing certain systems in your building, you must use tradespeople that are members in good standing of the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT).

There are 23 trades where certification and OCOT membership are legally required. Visit the Ontario College of Trades public register to find out if your tradesperson is certified and information about compulsory trades.

Compulsory trades include:

  • electricians
  • plumbers
  • air conditioning and heating systems mechanics
  • sprinkler and fire protection installers
  • boiler mechanics

You must keep logs of service and maintenance conducted on:

  • fuel burning appliances, such as furnaces and boilers
  • heating systems
  • cooling systems
  • ventilation systems and plumbing systems
  • electrical systems

The log must include:

  • the date and nature of service
  • the name of the certified tradesperson who performed the work

You must maintain a capital plan to include a five (5) year forcast of for major building repairs. Details should include when “the element” (see list below) is expected to be replaced or updated.

You must be able to provide this to tenants within 60 days of receiving a request.

Capital elements include, but are not limited to:

  • roof
  • elevators
  • building façade
  • windows
  • mechanical systems, including heat, air conditioning
  • underground garage
  • interior flooring
  • interior wall finishes (plaster, drywall, stucco, etc.)
  • balcony guards
  • guardrails
  • handrails in stairwells

You are required to develop an electrical maintenance plan with a Licenced Electrical Contractor. Tips on how to create a plan can be found on the ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) website.

You must maintain any information and records to show that you have complied with the plan, and have them available when requested.

You must develop and implement a cleaning plan and keep records of cleaning activity to ensure buildings are clean and safe.

You are required to inspect all common areas daily for cleanliness.

Cleaning Plan Requirements

The plan must list of all common areas and how often they will be cleaned, including:

  • garbage storage area
  • walls
  • floors
  • laundry room
  • washrooms
  • items or equipment in these common areas, such as counters, washers and dryers, garbage chutes, sinks and toilets etc

In an emergency situation (e.g. chemical spill, biohazard waste or any situation that would make the common areas dirty), you must state how and when the emergency will be resolved and keep a copy for your records. Include:

  • the process and details of how the common area will be cleaned up
  • how many hours it will take to clean up

Keep a copy of the cleaning plan and have it available for inspection upon request.

Post a copy of this plan on the tenant notification board.

You are required to take timely actions to remove pests, such as rodents, vermin, insects and bedbugs, from your building.

Pest Inspection Requirements

  • All common areas (inside and outside) must be inspected at least once every 30 days
  • If a complaint is received about pests, the area must be inspected within 72 hours

If pests are found:

  • You must hire a pest management operator licensed by the Ministry of the Environment
  • Take action to:
    • prevent the spread of the pests into other portions of the property
    • exterminate the pests in all areas where the presence of the pests is detected
  • Do not hide the presence of pests
  • You cannot rent to a new tenant if you are aware of pests in the rental unit
  • Pest inspection and treatment records must be made available to tenants and prospective tenants, upon request
  • Post a copy of the pest management plan on the tenant notification board including:
    • documentation of pest control services and schedule
    • service standards and product
    • information related to pest control activity.

Create a waste management plan for your building and maintain any information and records to show that you are following that plan.

The plan should include the information on how you intend to follow the City’s garbage, recycling and organics storage and disposal requirements.

Waste Diversion Requirements

  1. Post information on garbage, recycling and, if applicable, organics, such as accepted items and location of collection bins, in a common area
  2. Use stickers or posters to identify the correct place to deposit garbage, recycling and, if applicable, organic materials

If your building receive City’s garbage, Blue Bin recycling and Green Bin organics collection services, contact 311 to order print resources to help promote reduction, reuse and waste diversion programs.

You must create and maintain the following records/logs for two years (24 months):

  • Information regarding tenant service requests and responses
  • Log of scheduled and unscheduled waste management activities, including the date and location
  • Log of scheduled and unscheduled pest inspections, including:
    • date and location of proactive and reactive inspections
    • name of pest management operator
    • inspection results
    • recommended treatment, if any
  • Log of all pest treatment activities, including:
    • date and location of treatment
    • name of pest management operator
    • nature of the treatment
  • Log of service and maintenance of appliances that burn fuel, such as hot water furnaces or boilers, and heating, cooling, ventilation and plumbing systems including:
    • date and nature of service
    • name of licensed contractor
  • Log of service and maintenance conducted on building electrical systems including:
    • date and nature of service
    • name of certified tradesperson, agent or Licenced Electrical Contractor
  • Log of scheduled and unscheduled cleaning activities, including:
    • the nature of the activity
    • the date and location where it occurred
  • Information regarding the following fire safety elements:
    • approved fire safety plan
    • annual fire alarm and voice communication system test records
    • annual sprinkler test records (if applicable)
    • emergency power supply test records
    • annual fire pump flow test records for elevators
  • If you have questions regarding fire safety elements, contact Toronto Fire Services

In order to keep tenants up-to-date, a notification board must be posted in a central location within the building. See Tenant Notification Board Interpretation Bulletin.

The following information must be posted on the board.

Building Evaluation Result

You need to post copies of the most recent building evaluation result received from the City on the tenant notification board. You can print a copy of the most recent evaluation letter through the RentSafeTO Online Portal.

You must also post information on the RentSafeTO program and inform tenants that they can contact the RentSafeTO team by calling 311. Download the RentSafeTO: Apartment Building Standards Program brochure for your tenants.

Planned or Unplanned Service Disruptions

This includes heat, water, security systems, electricity, and elevators. Details must include: what is out of service, how long it will be out of service, and which units are affected.

Emergency Contact Information

Post the name, address and phone number (available 24 hours) of the owner or property manager. Lettering must be 12.7 mm high.

Note: Phone number must not have a charge back fee.

Nearest Cooling Location

Information must be provided for:

  • closest air-conditioned place in the building that tenants can use
  • closest public cooling location, along with name, address and map.

Note: In 2020, the “public cooling locations” will be one of 15 Emergency Cooling Centres, that will only be operational during a Heat Alert.

The Summer Heat Safety Notice provides all of this information.

Details about places on the property that offer relief from uncomfortably warm indoor temperatures, such as shaded areas, must also be posted on the tenant notification board.

Upcoming Building Audit Dates

The City of Toronto will notify the building owner of any upcoming building audits.

Post notices to tenants of upcoming scheduled building audits by RentSafeTO staff. This information must be posted at least 30 days prior to the audit date.

Major Capital Projects

Information on major capital projects must include: name of the project, how long it will take, and which units are affected.

Capital elements include but are not limited to: roof, elevators, façade, windows, mechanical systems, underground garage, interior flooring, interior wall finish, balcony guards, and handrails.

Pest Inspections and Treatments

Post details of any pest treatment activities, including:

  • the date of the treatment
  • name of the licensed pest management operator doing the treatment
  • and the type of the treatment
  • pest management plans, including
    • documentation of pest control services and schedule
    • service standards and product
    • information related to pest control activity.

Cleaning Plan

The cleaning plan is a list of all common areas (such as the garbage and recycling storage area, walls, floors, and laundry room etc.) in the building and how often the areas will be cleaned.

City-issued Notices and Orders

A copy of any notice and order issued by the City for common areas of the buildings such as property standards, graffiti, waste or orders issued by Toronto Fire Services, must be posted on the tenant notification board.

Post information related to any violations of the Ontario Fire Code, as identified by Toronto Fire Services.

Appeals to Property Standards Orders

You must post notifications that an appeal has been submitted to the Property Standards Appeal Committee (PSAC), as well as confirmation that the appeal has been received by the City. Also include a copy of the letter received by the City confirming the date of your appeal to the PSAC.

Vital Service Disruption Plan

Vital services are essential services that you must provide to keep tenants healthy and safe. Vital services include hot and cold water, fuel, electricity, natural gas, and heat.

A vital service disruption is an event where any of these services is disrupted.

You are required to develop and maintain a Vital Service Disruption Plan for your building. This plan must be implemented when there is an unplanned vital service disruption in your building.

Download the Vital Service Disruption Plan Form and complete this for each registered apartment building in Toronto. The form provides minimum requirements for the Plan, including the timeframes in which you must take specific actions. A Guidance Document is also available to help you complete the form.

Failure to develop, maintain and implement this plan during a vital service disruption is a chargeable offence under the Apartment Buildings bylaw.

Voluntary Tenant Contact List

You are required to maintain a contact list of tenants who voluntarily self-identify as requiring assistance during evacuations or a temporary discontinuance of a vital services.

The following sample Voluntary Tenant Contact List has been created to help you with this task.

Keep the list in a secure area and ensure you can easily find it during an emergency.

If a substantial portion of your building needs to be evacuated and you do not provide re-housing for tenants, a fee will be charged to recover the costs of providing Emergency Social Services (for example, temporary lodging).

Given how these fees can vary from case to case, there are no set amounts that you will be charged. However, for a general sense of cost of providing direct aid, see the Canadian Red Cross Disaster Response Individual and Family Assistance Standards.

You cannot rent a unit to a new tenant if there are any outstanding issues with that unit. This includes:

  • outstanding property standard orders with the unit
  • suspension of fuel (oil or propane), electricity, gas, heat, or hot or cold water in the apartment building
  • presence of pests in the rental unit

Inform new tenants about the City’s RentSafeTO program when signing a lease agreement. Download the RentSafeTO: Apartment Building Standards Program brochure for your tenants.

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