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3.5 Emergency Repairs

There is a specific definition for “emergency repairs” in the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). For a repair to be considered an emergency, it must be all three of the following:

  1. urgent;
  2. necessary for the health or safety of people or property; and
  3. made for the purpose of repairing one of the following:
  • major leaks in pipes or the roof
  • damaged or blocked water or sewer pipes or plumbing fixtures
  • the primary heating system
  • damaged or defective locks that give access to a rental unit
  • the electrical systems 

Your landlord must provide you with an emergency contact number in writing, or post it in a common area of your rental property. If you come across a repair issue that meets the RTA’s definition of “emergency”, try calling the contact number at least twice, leaving a reasonable amount of time between each attempt.

If you are unable to reach the emergency contact person, you have the right to pay for the repair and ask your landlord for reimbursement. If you choose this option, do your best to find a fair price by researching multiple companies. To reduce the chances of a future dispute with your landlord, make sure to keep a record of all receipts, research efforts, and written correspondence related to the repair.

Taking on an emergency repair can be complicated and expensive. If you do not have the time or money to deal with the repair yourself, or you are worried that you may not follow the proper steps, apply for dispute resolution to request an emergency repair order. The Residential Tenancy Branch considers emergency repairs a top priority when scheduling hearings.