Heating and Air Conditioning

Who's Responsible for What?


With climate change leading to increasingly unpredictable weather patterns in Toronto and around the world, temperatures often vary outside typical seasonal averages. These fluctuations can create challenges for tenants and landlords alike, particularly when apartments become uncomfortably hot or cold. While landlords are not required to provide air conditioning, if central air conditioning is offered, it is crucial to understand and adhere to the city's property standard regulations for heating, air conditioning and ventilation in apartments as outlined in Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 629, Property Standards (Sections 38) 

The city's property standards bylaw mandates that all landlords provide heat in their units from September 15 to June 1, maintaining a minimum indoor temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. If a building is equipped with air conditioning, these systems must operate from June 2 to September 14 to keep indoor temperatures within the set limits.

The regulations require air conditioning systems to be well-maintained to ensure a minimum room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius and a maximum indoor temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. Condensation drainage must not flow onto walkways,  entrance areas, driveways, pedestrian or vehicular areas. Ventilation systems must also be in good working order, providing adequate fresh air for a healthy indoor environment.

Unexpected temperature fluctuations may occur outside these periods, causing discomfort. For instance, warm temperatures over 21 degrees Celsius are now common in May or October. The bylaw doesn't require heat to be maintained in May or turned on immediately after September 16, provided units remain at or above 21 degrees Celsius. Landlords are encouraged to proactively adjust heating and cooling systems based on expected temperature changes.

For situations where the landlord requests the tenant to remove an air conditioning unit, the tenant should review the lease agreement for any applicable restrictions. This matter is not covered by the Property Standards bylaw.

Commercial properties are not subject to municipal regulations. For heat complaints in commercial properties, refer to the Ministry of Labour. The bylaw applies only to residential properties.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are renting your unit, you can make a complaint to the City through 311, either by calling or online at https://www.toronto.ca/311 

To report low or no heat for your residential unit between September 15 and June 1, click here.

To report that your unit is too hot between June 2 and September 14, click here. Your unit must have air conditioning to file this request.

You should file a complaint to the City if your landlord has turned the air conditioning on too early or if it’s not on by June 1. You should also file a complaint if they have not turned your heat on by the time temperatures have started to drop in the fall. 

Most newer buildings have mechanical equipment that requires a lead time to switch over between heating and air conditioning. Contractors usually need to be scheduled ahead of time and systems sometimes require a period between turning off the heat and turning on the air conditioning. Practically, this means that most buildings cannot turn the heat or air conditioning on or off at short notice, and will only do the switch once a year. 

Due to climate change, May may experience warmer temperatures, which might lead landlords to activate air conditioning before June 1 to enhance tenant comfort. However, cooler weather could still occur, potentially dropping temperatures below 21°C and potentially violating City bylaws, even briefly.

Similarly, warmer weather might persist beyond September 16, leading landlords to maintain air conditioning to keep tenants' units cool. However, if temperatures drop, units may fall below 21°C, also potentially violating City bylaws, even for a short time.

Consider whether filing a complaint to the City is appropriate in either scenario; violations may lead to investigations and potential charges. Sudden temperature shifts can be challenging for landlords to address quickly, so complaints could lead them to stick strictly to heating guidelines between September 15 and June 1, regardless of unseasonably warm weather. Although this may align with City bylaws, it could result in uncomfortable temperatures for you and other tenants. 

A common complaint the City gets is that our by-laws are not properly responding to climate change, encouraging landlords to keep the heat on unnecessarily. In particular, while City bylaws speak to a minimum temperature, they do not speak to the maximum temperature a unit can be. 

City Council has asked Staff to report back on bylaw changes to address these issues. A report is expected in 2024. 

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