SERVICES AND FACILITIES
Your landlord cannot reduce or restrict any service or facility that is essential and necessary to your rental unit and, if taken away, would make it impossible or impractical for you to live there. An example of an essential service may be an elevator in a multi-storey apartment building. See section 27(1) of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) and Residential Tenancy Branch Policy Guideline 22 for more information.
If you have a problem with an essential service or facility, ask your landlord in writing to correct the situation. See TRAC’s template letter, Termination or Restriction of Essential Services or Facilities. If that does not work, apply for dispute resolution for an order requiring your landlord to restore the essential service or facility. You can also apply for monetary compensation from your landlord for ignoring your request, as well as a rent reduction until the service or facility has been restored.
Alternatively, if the issue meets the RTA definition of “emergency repair” – for example, the primary heating system breaks during the winter – you can consider following the emergency repair procedures described in section 33 of the RTA. See TRAC’s webpage, Repairs and Maintenance, for more information.
Your landlord has the option to reduce or restrict non-essential services or facilities, but only if they provide 30 days written notice on an approved form and reduce your monthly rent by an amount equal to the value of the service or facility. For example, if internet was always provided as part of your tenancy agreement but has now been cancelled by your landlord, your rent should be reduced by the cost of a comparable internet package. See section 27(2) of the Residential Tenancy Act for more information.
If your landlord reduces or restricts a non-essential service or facility without providing 30 days written notice and a rent reduction, do not withhold rent. Instead, you will have to resolve the problem by writing your landlord and explaining the law, or applying for dispute resolution for an order that they comply with your tenancy agreement. See TRAC’s template letter, Termination or Restriction of Non-Essential Services or Facilities.