Kingston Community Legal Clinic will be closed on Monday, August 2, 2021 for the Civic Holiday. The Legal Clinic will reopen for phone and online intakes on Tuesday, August 3, 2021.
Re-posted from ON THE RADAR, a publication of Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)
As summer heats up, it’s a good time for tenants to pull out their leases and review the rules about air conditioners.
This month’s On the Radar looks at the different ways air conditioning can be handled in a lease.
What a lease might say
A lease can say different things about air conditioning, including:
- it’s provided by the landlord
- the tenant can install their own
- all air conditioners or certain types are banned
- nothing at all
If there isn’t a lease, the rules depend on what was said when the tenant and landlord made a verbal rental agreement.
When the landlord provides air conditioning
When the landlord provides air conditioning, they must make sure it works properly and repair it if it breaks.
The cost of running the air conditioner may be:
- included in the rent, or
- added as an extra charge.
Included in the rent
Most leases say whether the cost of air conditioning is included in the rent.
But some are less clear. For example, some leases say that electricity is included. But tenants need the landlord’s permission to install or use an air conditioner or extra appliances. The Landlord and Tenant Board usually says that if this is in the lease, the cost of running the air conditioning is not included in the rent.
Added as an extra charge
It’s sometimes legal for a landlord to charge extra rent for air conditioning. But the amount cannot be more than:
- the actual cost to the landlord of running the air conditioner, or
- a “reasonable amount” based on the value of the service if the landlord cannot show the actual cost.
Tenants should ask their landlord for copies of electricity bills. They’ll need these if they don’t agree with the amount of extra rent the landlord charges.
It’s not legal for a landlord to charge extra rent if the tenant pays for their own electricity.
When the tenant can install their own air conditioner
Many leases say that tenants must have their landlord’s permission to install an air conditioner. It’s best for the tenant to ask in writing and keep a copy for their records. If the landlord refuses, see the section below on banned air conditioners.
Landlords can charge extra rent if tenants install air conditioners only if electricity is included in the rent. And the amount cannot be more than:
- the actual cost of the electricity, or
- a “reasonable amount” if the landlord cannot show how much electricity the air conditioner is using.
But if the lease says electricity is included and does not say anything about air conditioners or getting permission, air conditioning is included in the rent.
Even if the lease does not require it, it’s a good idea to have a professional install the air conditioner. This is especially true for window-mounted air conditioners, which can be dangerous if not installed properly. Tenants should keep a copy of the technician’s invoice in case the landlord asks for proof.
A landlord cannot remove an air conditioner owned by a tenant, as long as it was installed properly and is not disturbing others.
When air conditioners are banned
Landlords are increasingly trying to prevent tenants from installing window-mounted air conditioners. It’s legal for a landlord to put this in a lease when a tenant first moves in.
But landlords cannot refuse certain types of air conditioners unless the lease mentions them. Despite what some landlords say, there are no laws that ban certain types of air conditioners.
What tenants can do
If a landlord says no to air conditioners, the tenant can offer to have the air conditioner installed by a professional and inspected on a regular basis.
Tenants can also write to their landlord to explain any medical conditions or disabilities that are made worse by hotter temperatures. If their unit is too hot, tenants should check it using a thermometer and take a picture of the exact temperature.
If a tenant takes these steps and the landlord still refuses, they should get legal advice.
When a lease says nothing about air conditioning
If air conditioning is already installed, tenants can assume they can use it:
- at no extra charge, as long as electricity is included in their rent and the lease does not say they need the landlord’s permission to use extra appliances
- at their own cost, if electricity is not included in their rent
If air conditioning is not already installed, a tenant can install their own air conditioner. But they should tell their landlord and have it done by a professional. If electricity is included in the rent, so is the cost of running an air conditioner. Or, the tenant can ask their landlord to install an air conditioner. See the information above about how much landlords can charge.
This post gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation.
Kingston Community Legal Clinic will be closed on Thursday, July 1, 2021 for Canada Day. The Legal Clinic will reopen for phone and online intakes on Friday, July 2, 2021.
Kingston Community Legal Clinic will be closed on Monday, May 24, 2021 for Victoria Day. The Legal Clinic will reopen for phone and online intakes on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.
Re-posted from ON THE RADAR, a publication of Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)
When the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) ended, the Canadian government created 3 new Recovery Benefits and made changes to Employment Insurance (EI). There are special rules about these programs for people who are on Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
This month’s On the Radar looks at how COVID-19 benefits interact with OW and ODSP.
To deal with the economic problems caused by COVID-19, the federal government created these new benefits:
- the Canada Recovery Benefit, for people who lose at least 50% of their work because of COVID-19
- the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, for people who have COVID-19 or who have to quarantine
- the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, for people who have to care for children or other family members because of COVID-19
These benefits are for people who miss work or lose their jobs because of COVID-19 and don’t qualify for EI. They pay $500 a week.
The government also made changes to EI. They lowered the amount of time that a person needs to qualify to 120 hours. And everyone now gets at least $500 a week.
Clawing back OW and ODSP money
Some people who get OW or ODSP will also qualify for EI or one of the Recovery Benefits. There’s a rule that says if someone on OW or ODSP qualifies for the Recovery Benefits or EI, they must apply to get them.
When someone on OW or ODSP gets money from another source, the government takes back some of their ODSP or OW money. This is often called a “clawback”.
People on OW and ODSP have to report their income every month. And both EI and the Recovery Benefits count as income.
Both EI and the Recovery Benefits are taken dollar for dollar from a person’s OW or ODSP payments. This means that for every dollar they get from EI or a Recovery Benefit, they lose one dollar from their OW or ODSP payments. So, while they’re getting money from these programs, most people will not get any money from OW or ODSP.
Usually, someone who gets EI or a Recovery Benefit would be removed from OW or ODSP because they have too much income. But instead, during COVID-19, OW or ODSP will give them a special status. This status means that they get $2.50 each month, which lets them:
- stay on OW or ODSP, and
- still get things like health benefits and discretionary benefits through OW or ODSP.
Paying back the money
Some people who got the new benefits at the same time as they got OW or ODSP are now being asked to pay OW or ODSP back. This is called an “overpayment”. They’ll get a letter that says they owe money.
Usually, OW and ODSP get money back by reducing a person’s future payments until they repay the full amount. OW and ODSP do not normally cancel someone’s debt.
But it’s often possible to make a deal about how much OW or ODSP takes each month, so that the person does not face “undue hardship”. People who want to do this need to talk to their caseworker.
If someone does not agree they owe money or with the amount OW or ODSP says they owe, they can ask for an internal review. This means that another OW or ODSP worker from the same office reviews the decision and decide whether or not to change it.
For more information about asking for an internal review, see:
If OW or ODSP does not change their decision, people can appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal. For more information about an appeal, see:
- How do I appeal an OW decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal?
- I disagree with an ODSP decision. What can I do?
Getting legal help
For help related to a decision by OW or ODSP , please contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic.
Repost from HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario.
The COVID-19 pandemic eviction ban is being lifted in Ontario on August 4, 2020. This means that evictions can once again take place in Ontario. There remains a process for evictions, but for most evictions that process is now different due to recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. Some of the changes related to evictions and other things are as follows:
Evictions can now be fast tracked at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) if a tenant agrees to a repayment plan with their landlord but then misses a payment. It is very important for tenants to get legal advice before agreeing to repayment plans because not following the terms of a plan could lead the landlord to get an eviction order without a hearing at the LTB. If a tenant receives an eviction order in these circumstances, they have only 10 days to request a hearing.
- Tenants facing eviction for rent owing must now provide written notice to their landlord if they want to raise various issues at the eviction hearing including issues related to repair problems in their units. Before the changes were made to the law, tenants could automatically raise these issues.
- If a tenant does not challenge an illegal rent increase within 12 months, the new rent now becomes legal and cannot be disputed.
- Landlords now have 12 months to bring former tenants to the LTB for issues such as rent owing. Before the changes were made to the law, landlords had to take former tenants to Small Claims Court. As Small Claims Court has much stricter rules than the LTB to ensure that tenants are made aware of hearings, there is concern that former tenants will not learn of the hearings at the LTB.
While the changes to the law are being challenged in court, the changes are currently in effect. We will provide an update when we have more information about the court challenge.
This information is not intended as, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you live in the City of Kingston, Township of South Frontenac, or Township of Frontenac Islands, please call us at 613-541-0777 or complete the online intake form at https://kclc.ca/contact/ for advice about your specific situation.
Kingston Community Legal Clinic will be closed on Monday, August 3, 2020 for the civic holiday. The Legal Clinic will reopen for phone and online intakes on Tuesday, August 4, 2020.