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How to keep your rental unit

It is important to avoid conflicts with your landlord.  This section offers suggestions that can help you avoid problems that can lead to disputes or eviction.  Also see our pamphlet for Rental Supports and our check list for eviction prevention.

  • Be sure that you pay your rent on time. If something does happen that there is going to be a slight delay in paying contact your landlord ahead and explain but do not make a habit of doing this.  The landlord /  property manager can start to charge for late payment.
  • Pay the rent.  If you have a complaint or dispute about repairs or issues not being dealt with, you cannot simply withhold the rent.  The landlord can issue an eviction notice for non-payment, and the Residential Tenancies Board will back the landlord.  If you have problems, document them; send written requests to the landlord asking them to deal with the problem; if nothing is done after two requests, you can present your documents to Residential Tenancies.  They can pursue the issue with the landlord and possibly undertake work and have the rent redirected to recover costs.
  • Keep your unit clean and do not do damage to the unit. If you have children or pets do not allow them to do damage to the unit. If something does get damaged, repair it as quickly as possible. Even if you plan to move again remember that it is important to have references from previous landlords. If you cause damage you will not have those references and some landlords take action in small claims court to recover the cost of repairs. If you do not pay then it could be permanently on your credit rating or you could end up on RTB's Orders System.
  • You are responsible for your actions and that of your guests. If you have parties and there are damages or noise complaints from neighbours you are responsible and it is grounds for eviction.

If there are repairs that are needed you cannot withhold your rent, no matter how bad the situation is. You should contact the Residential Tenancies Branch at (204) 945-2476.

Energy efficiency tips
Working with your landlord
Mold
Bedbugs (Bedbug Hotline: 1-855-3MB-BUGS)
Fire Safety
Security

Energy efficiency tips
Lighting
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room. If you are going to be out of the room for more than five minutes, turn off the light. It won't affect lamp life and will save energy.
  • If you know of a light that everyone forgets to turn off, make a sticker or a sign to hang next to the switch that says "Lights Out!" or "Don't Forget!"
  • Where possible, use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Compact fluoresents produce the same amount of light by using 1/4 of the electricity. Plus, they last for years and years without burning out.
  • Harness the sun. Opening the blinds is a free way to brighten up a room.
  • Switch brands. Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. They cost a little more, but use less energy and last a lot longer.
  • Remove the guesswork. Buy Energy Star. More than 50 types of products bear this label. It means you're buying the most energy-efficient products on the market.
Water
  • Showers save hot water. A typical bath uses approximately 75 litres of hot water, while a 5 minute shower (with an efficient showerhead) will use half of that.
  • Take shorter showers. You'll use less hot water - and water heaters account for nearly 1/4 of a home's energy use. Set your water heater temperature to no more than 120 degrees.
  • Use only what you need. Only fill your kettle with the amount of water you need and only run the dishwasher/laundry when you have a full load.
Electrical
  • Take advantage of the weather. You can save energy by using a clothes line or drying rack to dry your clothes.
  • Look for Energy Star Appliances. When buying a new appliance look for the Energy Star rating and think about the lifetime cost rather than just the purchase price.
  • Computer use. Set the energy saving features on your computer – this can save $25 to $75 per year in energy costs. Or simply turn the computer and monitor off when they're not in use -- 60% of the power used by a computer is used by the monitor.
  • Eliminate "Phantom Loads". Unplug all your infrequently used electronics (printer, TVs, DVD players, electric kettle, toaster) to keep them from using electricity when they're not in use.
Heating and Cooling
  • Keep it down. Turn your thermostat down to 20 degrees Celsius during the day and to 17 degrees Celsius at night to save as much as 15 per cent on the heating part of your energy bill.
  • Close it. Keep doors and windows closed during hot or cold periods. If your space is mechanically ventilated, you will be provided with conditioned, filtered, fresh air already.
  • Take it easy. Turn down the air conditioning, peak summer loads cause the worst pollution and contribute to brown-outs.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Put on a sweater (and turn down the thermostat).
  • Maintain your equipment. Dirt and neglect are the most common causes of equipment failure. Clean or change the furnace filter once a month (or as recommended by the manufacturer).

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Working with Your Landlord

Falling behind in payments? The time to act is now. Start by figuring out how much you are behind in the rent payments. Then, make a repayment plan you can discuss with your landlord. Can you pay off the entire back rent immediately? Can you pay some of the overdue amount each week while making your monthly rent payments on time?

The following steps may help you negotiate with your landlord:

  1. Let the landlord know there is a problem before you start falling behind on the rent.
  2. Figure out how much you owe, what you can pay back, and when you can get it done.
  3. Put a repayment plan in writing. Make it realistic. It's important that you honor this agreement, or your landlord will lose faith in you. Then, he or she may take more drastic steps such as eviction.
  4. If the landlord agrees to a repayment plan, put it in writing. Make sure it says that as long as you follow the repayment plan, the landlord cannot evict you. The paper should be signed and dated by both you and the landlord.
  5. Ask the landlord if you can do any work around the property to help pay the back rent.
  6. If you believe your landlord has failed to provide a safe and healthy home, ask for advice about the next steps to take.
  7. When discussing your nonpayment of rent, focus on that issue and don't complicate matters by bringing up other problems with the landlord.

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Mold in Rental Housing

The purpose of this information is to help tenants better understand the hazards associated with indoor mold growth and the options available to resolve mold problems. The rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords with respect to mold can vary depending on the terms of the lease contract, the cause of mold growth and whether local government agencies can intervene.

What Is Mold And What Causes It?

Mold is type of fungus that is present in our natural environment. Mold spores, which are tiny microscopic "seeds", can be found virtually everywhere, including in homes, and are a part of the general dust found in homes. These spores can grow on building materials and furnishings if conditions are correct. Excess moisture is the critical factor in any indoor mold problem. Mold growth should not be tolerated in our homes. Eventually, the moisture and mold will damage what it is growing on, which may include both the building and the renter's personal belongings. The key to preventing mold growth is to prevent moisture problems.

What Are The Health Concerns?

Health effects from exposure to mold can vary greatly depending on the person and the amount of mold in the home. The types of symptoms that may occur include coughing, wheezing, nasal symptoms and throat symptoms. People with asthma or allergies who are sensitive to mold may notice their asthma or allergy symptoms worsen. Individuals with severely weakened immune system who are exposed to moldy environments are at risk of developing serious fungal respiratory infections. You should consult a medical professional if you are concerned about the effects of a moldy environment on your health.

What Can I Do As A Tenant?

Generally, the landlord is responsible for repairing moisture problems and cleaning up mold, unless it is a minor issue related to the tenant's behavior. Tenants should look at their own behaviors to determine whether they may contribute to the moisture problem that is causing mold. Here are some tips:

  • Always use bathroom fans during and after bathing/showering.
  • Avoid spilling liquids on carpet. If this occurs, quickly dry carpets (if carpets stay wet, notify the landlord).
  • Use the kitchen fans when cooking.
  • Don't run the shower to humidify you home.
  • Avoid using humidifiers unless there is a medical reason to use one.
  • Ensure good air environment in your home to prevent condensation on cold surfaces
  • Open windows when possible
  • Don't block supply and return registers with furniture
  • Keep a few inches of space between furniture and walls
  • Don't let parts of your home get very cold (such as closets against exterior walls)
  • Watch what you put down drains to avoid clogging and over-flows

When moisture problems do occur, it is critical to quickly report the cause of moisture and to dry affected areas. Tenants should promptly notify their landlord when they find a moisture problem or mold growth. Common moisture problems include pipe leaks, roof leaks, sewage back-ups, and over flowing toilets/sinks/bathtubs. A verbal communication should be followed up with a letter to avoid misunderstandings. The tenant should keep a copy of this letter, for possible use in future legal proceedings. A timely response is in the interest of both the tenant and the landlord because delays may result in greater costs to clean and repair.

What Can Be Done About Indoor Mold?

Tenants and landlords should try to work cooperatively to investigate and correct moisture problems and remove mold growth. If mold can be seen, if a musty odor is present, or if there is good reason to believe health problems are being caused by mold, a careful inspection of the home should be conducted. Attention should be paid to hidden areas, such as plumbing access areas, crawl spaces, behind mirrors, attics, behind furnishings, closets and cupboards.

Correcting a mold problem properly requires fixing the moisture problem, removing the mold, and keeping the home dry in the future. Mold growth should be cleaned from (non-porous) surfaces such as concrete, metal, glass, tile, and solid wood. Mold growth is difficult to clean on absorbent (porous) surfaces such as dry wall, carpet, fleecy furnishing and insulation. These moldy materials should be discarded. Personal belongings can be kept if there is no mold growth in them. They may need a deep cleaning to remove mold particles that have settled in the fabric. Merely applying a chemical, like bleach without removing the mold growth is not an effective solution; neither is simply painting over the problem.

There are numerous private contractors who specialize in inspecting or cleaning mold in homes. Where problems cannot be identified or safely remediated, the landlord may want to hire a residential service provider. In addition, certain moisture problems may be covered under property or renter insurance.

What Are My Options If The Owner Refuses To Help?

The Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) generally refers complaints about mold contamination/build-up to the local environmental health authorities. Sometimes mold happens because of a repair problem. For example: a broken bathroom exhaust fan. If repairs are required, the Branch follows the procedures under Landlord's Responsibility for Repairs. Before the RTB becomes involved in a request for repairs, you must first ask the landlord to do the repairs. You are responsible to tell a landlord when repairs are needed. Ideally, you should give the landlord a written request to do the work.

If the landlord does not do the repairs, you should complete a Tenant's Request for Repairs form. You fill out three copies of the form and give one copy to the landlord and two copies to the Branch.

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Bedbugs (Bedbug Hotline: 1-855-3MB-BUGS)

 

The new bedbug inquiry number is 1-855-3MB-BUGS (1-855-362-2847). The public can call with questions about bed bug prevention, how to identify an infestation, and what steps to take when a bedbug infestation occurs.  The hotline is staffed by trained operators during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. Outside of these hours, callers can leave a message, and the call will be returned the next business day. There is also an email address (bedbugs@gov.mb.ca) that the public can use.


For more information, go to our Bed Bug page>>


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Fire Safety

Landlords must provide a fire alarm. The landlord's responsibilities include:

  • Installing the smoke detector. The alarm must be:
    • A hard-wired, 120 volt AC powered (no batteries) smoke alarm; or
    • A 10-year lithium-powered (non-replaceable batteries) smoke detector.
  • Test and clean the smoke alarm at least once a year to make sure it works.
  • Re-test the alarm whenever new tenants move in.
  • Show the tenant how to use and test the smoke alarm.
  • Provide phone numbers for the tenant to call if the alarm stops working.
  • Replace a broken alarm within 24 hours of finding out it is not working.
  • Report any tampering with smoke alarms to the City of Winnipeg Fire Prevention Branch.
Tenants responsibilities include the following:
  • Never tamper with a smoke alarm. It is against the law, and a tenant may be fined up to $1,000 and/or sent to jail for up to 6 months! If caught tampering with a fire alarm, a tenant may be evicted with just five days of notice.
  • Report broken smoke detectors to your landlord/caretaker immediately, and write down the date and time it was reported.
  • Call the Winnipeg Fire Prevention Branch if your landlord doesn't repair or replace your alarm within 24 hours.
  • Tenants should also make sure the landlord shows them how to use and test the alarm and be sure to get the proper contact numbers to call in case of a broken alarm. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly. Tenants, especially those with kids, should have a home/apartment escape plan, with multiple escape routes, in case of fire. Make sure the whole family knows it and practices it regularly. Be aware of the location of fire-alarm pull stations and extinguishers.
If a tenant notices a fire, they should immediately:
  • Take their key and leave the fire area, making sure to close all door behind them.
  • Use the pull station to activate the fire alarm. (This alarm sounds only in the building to notify tenants of danger, and does not notify the Fire Department)
  • Use stairwells to exit the building. Never use an elevator during a fire!
  • Call 911 and report the address of the fire.
  • Do not return to the rental unit until the Fire Official says it's safe.
If a tenant hears a fire alarm when they are in their suite, they should:
  • Check their doorknob for heat. If it is not hot, tenants should brace themselves against the door and just open it a little. If air pressure, or a hot draft, is felt, close the door fast.
  • If there is no smoke or fire in the hallway, tenants should take their room key, close the door behind them, and exit the building.
  • If there is smoke in the hall or stairwell, tenants should either check for another stairway, or if no stairs are free of smoke, return to their suite.
  • Make sure doors are not locked in case firefighters need to get in.
  • Call 911 and tell the Fire Department that there are tenants trapped in the suite.
  • Seal all cracks where smoke can get in with wet towels or blankets (mail slots, door cracks, air vents, etc.).
  • If smoke still enters the room, stay low to the ground and move to the balcony or most-protected room.
  • Open window (as long as it doesn't let smoke in), if not on balcony, and signal firefighters by waving a sheet.
  • Remain calm and wait to be rescued.
In order to avoid fire hazards, tenants should:
  • Not put burning material in garbage bins or chutes (make sure cigarette butts and ashes are not still smoldering).
  • Not throw flammable liquids or aerosol cans in interior garbage bins or chutes.
  • Avoid dangerous cooking practices (deep frying, too high heat, unattended stove, loose, hanging sleeves, etc.).
  • Not use unsafe electrical appliances with damaged cords or overloaded outlets.
  • Smoke carefully. Use ashtrays and never smoke in bed.
  • Never store gasoline or gasoline appliances (lawn mower, etc.) in the home.
  • Never use barbecues indoors or store propane tanks in the home.
  • Not store flammable materials in the home (paint thinners, solvents, etc.)
  • Keep area around furnace and hot water tank clear.
  • Always use the proper size and type of fuse.
  • Recycle old newspapers on a regular basis because stacks of old newspapers catch fire easily.
  • Never leave cooking food unattended.
  • Never prop open fire doors; they help to prevent the spread of fire and propping them open puts the tenant and their neighbours in danger.

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Security

Protect yourself, your neighbors, and your home. Try to follow these simple suggestions and make your building a safer place:

  • Do not let anyone into the apartment block that you don't know. If someone calls on the intercom, and you don't know them, give them the landlord/caretaker's buzz-code and hang up.
  • Always keep the door to your unit locked, even when you are at home.
  • Tell your landlord/caretaker when you are away for any extended amount of time.
  • If you are expecting deliveries, make arrangements with a neighbour or your landlord/caretaker. Never leave notes in the lobby or on your front door saying you are not home.
  • Do not identify yourself on the callboard as a single woman. Instead, use only first initials on the callboard (B. Smith instead of Barbara Smith).
  • Make sure to have a good quality deadbolt lock with at least a one-inch bolt on your doors.
  • Try to make sure your door has a wide-angle door viewer (peephole).
  • Place a length of wood in the bottom track of sliding doors and windows. Generally, locks on sliding windows and doors are easily forced, and a snugly fitting length of wood (broom-handle, etc.) will do a much better job of keeping intruders out.
  • Do not let workers into your building or suite unless they have proper identification and you know they are coming (for example, notices have been posted, or landlord has told you).
  • Do not enter an elevator if you are suspicious of the occupants. Wait for the next one.
  • Stand near the elevator's control panel. If needed, push as many buttons as possible, especially the Alarm button. Avoid pushing the Emergency Stop button. If the elevator has a phone, pick it up. Lifting the receiver automatically sets off the alarm.
  • Do not store valuable property in your locker or storage area.
  • Report suspicious people standing around the building or lockers to the landlord/caretaker or police.
  • When in a parking lot or garage:
    • Be aware of anyone following you in. Leave the area immediately if you run into suspicious or threatening people, and notify the landlord/caretaker or police.
    • Always lock your car doors, and remove any portable items of value.
  • When vacationing:
    • Tell a trusted neighbour or the landlord/caretaker when you will be leaving and returning and leave an emergency contact number.
    • Cancel all deliveries and mail, or get a trusted neighbour to pick up newspapers and mail on a regular basis.
    • If possible use clock timers to turn lights and radios on to make it seem like someone is home.
    • Do not leave important or irreplaceable valuables in the home while you are gone for extended amounts of time.
  • If you get home and find a window or door broken, do not enter the unit. The criminal may still be inside. Use a neighbour's telephone to call the police.
  • If you have been the victim of a crime, tell your neighbours. They may have noticed something out of the ordinary that could help the police catch the criminal.

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