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Toronto reminds landlords to turn off the heat as tenants face unbearable temperatures

While the calendar start to the summer season is still roughly a month away, Toronto's weather clearly has a mind of its own, and unseasonably warm temperatures are creating less than comfortable conditions in many of the city's residential buildings.

Regardless of the fact that temperatures are expected to feel as hot as the mid-30s this week, the official day for converting heat to cool in apartments across Toronto isn't until June 2.

Some landlords and property managers nevertheless take it upon themselves to switch their systems over early with the comfort of tenants in mind, but others not only wait until the last possible second to make the change — they actually leave the heat on as outdoor temperatures continue to rise.

"If Mother Nature is turning up the temperature, landlords have a responsibility to turn off the heat," said city councillor Josh Matlow in a city statement asking landlords to turn off the heat on warm spring days. 

"If a building has central air conditioning, it's vital that it be turned on, as it is the only source of ventilation in some buildings."

Under the city's heat bylaw, owners and landlords of residential buildings are required to provide heat to a minimum air temperature of 21 degrees C from Sept. 15 to June 1.

But warm days can cause the indoor temperature of units to reach this without the heat on — mine is currently sitting at 26 C with no heat, for example — and this can make it uncomfortably hot for tenants.

That's why the city's Municipal Licensing and Standards Division is working with landlords registered with the RentSafeTO: Apartment Buildings Program to make sure they understand how to support tenants during warm weather.

This includes encouraging landlords to designate an air-conditioned place in the building or a shady area outside where tenants can go to keep cool. 

The city says landlords should be posting this information on the tenant notification board along with the location of the closest Emergency Cooling Centre, seven of which will open each time Environment and Climate Change Canada issues a Heat Warning for Toronto.

Tenants who have concerns about indoor air temperature should speak with their landlord or property manager, according to the city, who are required to respond to non-urgent requests like this within seven days.

If the issue persists, tenants can contact 311 and the city will investigate.

"With the warmer weather finally here, we are working with landlords to help them understand the rules regarding heat in apartment buildings," said Mayor John Tory in the city's statement. 

"While the heat bylaw states that landlords must provide heat to a minimum air temperature of 21 degrees Celsius up to June 1, we know it can reach this on warm days without the heat on. This can make it uncomfortably hot for tenants. We ask landlords to use their judgement and turn the heat off on warm spring days."

Lead photo by

Scott Weir

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