There are some great perks to being a tenant. Your monthly rent relieves you of many of the responsibilities of homeownership, but there are some repairs and chores that fall to the tenant as well.
A landlord is responsible for providing you with a liveable space that is properly kept up to meet legal health and safety requirements. It is up to you to maintain the cleanliness of your unit, and to repair any damage that you, your guests or pets have caused since moving in.
Canadian provinces generally have their own policies around this division of responsibility. Residents of BC can refer to the Residential Tenancy Act to learn about tenant and landlord responsibilities. Follow your provincial guidelines, but pay attention to anything else outlined in your unique lease agreement if you want to get your damage deposit back in full.
Replacement light bulbs and batteries
Issues with your electrical systems are within your landlord’s purview, but when light bulbs burn out, you will be responsible for replacing them. On the other hand, if your smoke alarm batteries run out of juice, notify your landlord and they are meant to replace them.
Holes in the walls
As a tenant in BC you might not be held responsible for holes in your walls from wall hangings or ceiling hooks. As long as you complied with the expectations your landlord has set for these types of holes, they will not be considered damage. However, you are obligated to repair walls where there is an excessive amount of holes from nails or damage to the wall from adhesives.
Carpet and window cover cleaning
If your rental has carpet, the landlord is meant to have it in good, clean, condition prior to you moving in. After that, any stains you make during your tenancy are yours to clean. Window treatments such as curtains or blinds are also your responsibility to clean unless otherwise noted in your lease. Check with your landlord if your window coverings require special cleaning instructions.
Once you move in, you only are responsible for cleaning the interior of all windows, except for if you have glass balcony or patio doors, in which case you must clean the interior and exterior, as well as the tracks.
Unclogging drain pipes
While any major plumbing issues should be resolved by your landlord, you are obligated to unclog any drains that you have clogged in the first place. You should be routinely cleaning your pipes to avoid any back-up in the first place.
Damage to appliances
Your landlord is required to supply you with major appliances that are in working order. They must pay for their maintenance, as long as you are not found to be at fault for the malfunction. If you cause any damage to your washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, or the like by misuse or negligence (e.g. putting dishsoap in the clothes washer), you could be on the hook for a hefty repair bill or replacement.
Malfunctioning large appliances can cause further damage, such as flooding or fire. If you are found to be at fault, you’ll also be footing the bill for those repairs.
Damage caused by a pet
Pets can be a source of damage to your home as well. Most landlords will require a pet deposit in the case that tenants leave behind any scratches or mess from a pet.
If you find that your apartment has a problem with pests like bed bugs, it is likely that your landlord will be responsible for the problem. The only cases where the tenant would cover these costs are if they have introduced the bed bugs to the building, or if they do not report the problem early enough and it becomes more expensive to treat.
Repainting the walls
If you change the colour of the walls or ceiling, you must repaint to restore them to their original colour. If you haven’t painted, and the walls only show signs of reasonable wear and tear, you do not have any obligation to put down a fresh coat of paint.