Is a Tenant Allowed to Hold Rent Back From a Landlord Until Maintenance or Repair Issues Are Addressed By the Landlord?

A Tenant Is Forbidden From Holding Back Rent Despite a Dispute Over Maintenance or Repairs With the Landlord. Instead, a Tenant May Apply to the Landlord Tenant Board For Permission to Make Rent Payments to the Landlord Tenant Board.

Understanding That Withholding of Rent Due to Maintenance Issues Requires Payment Into the Landlord Tenant Board

Residential Lease Agreement A tenant that is disgruntled about a perceived state of disrepair of a rental unit may prefer to withhold rent payments as a means to motivate the landlord to address the maintenance issues raised by the tenant; however, withholding rent is viewed as improper and may adversely affect the tenant.

The Law

A tenant that withholds rent as a means to urge the landlord to make repairs or otherwise remedy perceived maintenance concerns does so improperly and unlawfully.  Instead of withholding rent, upon submitting a Tenant Application About Maintenance (Form T6) to the Landlord Tenant Board, the tenant may apply to the Landlord Tenant Board to submit rent payments to the Landlord Tenant Board rather than the landlord.

The Haran v Westover, 2021 CanLII 101368 and O.C. v. J.M.2018 CanLII 86120, D.P.J. v. A.C.2011 CanLII 26905 cases, among many others, address the improper conduct of withholding rent by a tenant.  Specifically, in Haran, O.C., and D.P.J., the Landlord Tenant Board respectively stated:

14.  It is important to note that the Act does not provide any authority to the tenants to withhold rent payments in order to compel specific performance by a landlord. ...

3.  As I stated at the hearing, there is no legal justification for withholding rent.  If there are lingering maintenance issues, and the Landlord does not address them, the Tenant may apply for relief in a T6 application. ...

3.  The Tenant did not pay the rent for February and March because of maintenance issues in the rental unit. The Tenant further stated at the hearing that she did not intend to pay the rent until all maintenance issues are dealt with by the Landlord.

4.  I find that there is no provision in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the 'Act') that allows a tenant to withhold rent because of outstanding maintenance issues. ...

As shown by the above cases, among many others, a tenant is without a right to withhold rent regardless of concerns for failure of maintenance by a landlord.  With this said, rather than improperly withholding rent from the landlord, when a tenant files a Tenant Application About Maintenance (Form T6), a tenant may apply to provide rent payments to the Landlord Tenant Board.  A tenant may apply to pay rent into the Landlord Tenant Board as per section 195(1)(b) of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, Chapter 17, which states:

195 (1) Where the Board considers it appropriate to do so, the Board may, subject to the regulations,

....

(b)  permit a tenant who is making an application for an order under paragraph 1 of subsection 29 (1) to pay all or part of the rent for the tenant’s rental unit into the Board.

To apply to provide rent payments to the Landlord Tenant Board, a tenant must first file the Tenant Application About Maintenance (Form T6) and then a tenant may file the Request to Pay Rent to the Board on a Tenant Application About Maintenance.

Summary Comment

A tenant with a legal dispute over issues of maintenance is forbidden to withhold held as a means to urge the landlord to address the maintenance issues.  Instead, a tenant may apply to the Landlord Tenant Board to make rent payments to the Landlord Tenant Board.


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