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.
Download the Building Owner Handbook for an overview of the bylaw and summary of key regulations. The handbook was last updated on November 2020.
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.
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.
There are rules in place to protect tenants, staff, and visitors of apartment buildings during COVID-19. 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 as specified by provincial orders
The Government of Ontario has ordered the closure of and/or limited access to certain businesses or places in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apartment building owners and operators can reopen some common areas (such as gyms and indoor play centres) following public health measures. However some common areas (such as saunas and steam rooms) must still remain closed as specified by provincial orders. For more information on openings and closures, please visit toronto.ca/covid19.
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:
To protect the health and safety of our communities, the City’s temporary bylaw requires apartment building owners to have a policy requiring everyone to wear a mask or face covering while in enclosed common spaces, such as elevators, hallways, lobbies, laundry rooms, and any other shared facilities. Toronto Public health has created a sample policy for mandatory masks to help apartment building owners comply with the bylaw.
In addition, apartment building owners are required to:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
The plan must list of all common areas and how often they will be cleaned, including:
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:
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.
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.
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):
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.
A sample Tenant Notification Board is available to illustrate the information that must be posted. This is not a mandatory layout but an example that can be customized.
The following information must be posted on the board:
You must 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.
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.
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.
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.
Information must be provided for:
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.
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.
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.
Post details of any pest treatment activities, including:
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.
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.
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.
Post information on garbage, recycling and, if applicable, organics, such as accepted items and location of collection bins (unless posted elsewhere in a common area).
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.
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.
You cannot rent a unit to a new tenant if there are any outstanding issues with that unit. This includes:
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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