Help! My apartment is freezing! What can I do?

There’s nothing worse than being uncomfortable inside your own home. But sometimes the heaters, hot water tanks and boilers inside Vancouver apartment buildings break down right when you need them the most. If you’re a tenant, even just a few hours of no heat in the middle of winter can feel like a tremendously long time. Keep reading to learn more about what to do if your apartment is freezing and your landlord is slow to act.

Standards of maintenance in B.C.

The provincial government created the Residential Tenancy Act to create housing, safety and building standards for all rental properties across the province. Landlords must ensure that the dwellings they rent out are suitable for occupancy in accordance with these standards. And while the Tenancy Act goes a long way in dictating the minimum acceptable occupancy standards for rental properties, it doesn’t stipulate the minimum temperature to which a rental unit must be heated—that’s up to municipal governments throughout the province.

Municipal standards

Because temperatures vary wildly from one area of B.C. to the next, the province has left it up to municipal governments to set and enforce standards of heating in local apartment buildings and rentals.

Whether you’re in Kelowna, Prince George, or Richmond, problems with the primary heating source are considered a threat to the health and safety of all tenants in the building. It’s the landlord’s responsibility to perform all emergency repairs required to get the heat back up and running as quickly as possible.

If you’re a tenant

If you think your landlord is restricting access to an essential service by turning down the heat in the wintertime or limiting your supply of hot water, it’s up to you to contact the local authorities and request an investigation.

Before contacting your municipality, you must make a minimum of two attempts to contact the landlord, with a reasonable amount of time passing between each attempt, before you can take matters into your own hands. If your landlord is unresponsive after two attempts, you can hire one of our Burnaby plumbers or heating specialists to make the emergency repairs for you and then have your landlord reimburse you for the costs.

If you’re a landlord

It is up to you to ensure that your dwelling is safe for all of your tenants, and that includes making sure that they have adequate heat all winter long. Visit Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating and we’ll see to it that your hot water tanks and furnaces can handle the cold weather ahead. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to request a service call anywhere in Vancouver, Richmond and the surrounding areas.

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