You may own the property, but if you’re a landlord in Canada, you can only legally enter your tenant’s home under a limited number of circumstances. To protect yourself against liability claims, it’s important you make yourself aware of, and make sure you adhere to, tenancy laws local to your province.
Notice of Entry
You must give your tenant a minimum of 24 hours’ notice before entering his or her residence. Preparing a written Notice of Entry is the surest way to ensure a legal entry into your tenant’s apartment. On a Notice of Entry, you should include:
- the names and addresses for both you and your tenant,
- the date and approximate time range of your entry (e.g., 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.),
- the reason for entry (e.g., governmental regulations, repairs, etc.),
- your signature, and
- the date of the Notice’s service to the tenant.
In the event of emergency, you may be able to waive the Notice of Entry requirement; however, you should make yourself aware of what classifies as an emergency. A flooded kitchen would probably allow you to legally enter the suite without notice; a faulty hot water heater may not.
When you are preparing a Notice of Entry, make sure you keep a copy for your own records. By maintaining a paper record of entry into your tenant’s suite, you can save yourself a significant headache in the event of an evictions hearing. You should also urge your tenant to keep a copy; records can prove beneficial to each of you.
You should serve the Notice on your tenant more than 24 hours ahead of your planned entry to the suite. Many landlords choose to tape it to the tenant’s front door so that they will be sure to see it; laws generally state that taping it to the tenant’s front door is sufficient but you should check with your provincial landlording or residential tenancy association for the specific rules in your area
Why Might I Need to Enter My Tenant’s Residence?
Repairs are the most common reason for landlord entry into a residence. These can be scheduled or incidental. If your tenant asks you to make a repair, you should push for a written request — also for legal reasons. Maintaining a paper trail of business between you and your tenant is always a good idea in the unlikely event of a legal problem between you.
You may also have reason to enter a suite for the sake of inspection. For instance, the Residential Tenancy Act in British Columbia provides for the option to inspect a residence once per month in order to ensure illegal activities (such as grow ops) are not taking place. However, you must still provide a minimum of 24 hours’ notice before entry into your tenant’s residence under this provision. If it seems clear that there is a safety hazard associated with potential illegal activity in a particular suite, you may be able to enter the suite without warning — but be sure that the safety hazard could be classified as an emergency and communicate that clearly.
There is no substitute for familiarizing yourself with the tenancy laws particular to your area when deciding whether or not to enter a suite.