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If you’ve ever received notice from your landlord about renovations to your rental property, you’re not alone in wondering about what comes next.

Beyond the initial inconvenience, the renovations can benefit both the property and the tenant. These benefits can include upgrades to the electrical panel, the removal of lead pipes from the plumbing or the removal of hazardous knob and tube wiring that is often found in older buildings. Basically, they can upgrade your living arrangements. 

Keep reading to learn more about what to expect if your landlord decides to renovate your unit. 

What happens when a landlord decides to renovate your unit?

In Ontario, landlords are required to follow specific rules and procedures when notifying tenants about renovations. The process typically involves:

  1. Notice of Intent: Before beginning any renovations that may disrupt a tenant, landlords must provide a written notice. The notice should include details about the proposed renovations, the expected start and end dates, and a description of how renovations might impact the tenant.
  2. Timely Notification: Landlords are required to provide reasonable notice before the renovations begin. They must provide the tenant with 60 days of notice before the work begins.
  3. Extent of Renovations: The notice should outline the reasons for the renovations, the nature of the work to be done and any expected inconveniences such as noise, dust or if the tenant is restricted from parts of the unit.
  4. Tenant’s Right to Terminate: In some cases, if the renovations are extensive and will significantly disrupt the tenant’s use of the unit, the tenant might have the option to terminate their tenancy without penalty.
  5. Negotiation: Landlords and tenants can sometimes negotiate the terms of the renovations, including the timing, access to the unit and any possible compensation for the inconvenience.
  6. Completion and Restoration: Once the renovations are complete, the landlord is responsible for restoring the unit to its previous condition. This includes cleaning the unit, repairing any damage caused during the renovations and ensuring all amenities are in working order.

If you’re a tenant facing renovations or a landlord planning to renovate a rental unit, it’s advisable to consult with legal resources, such as the Residential Tenancies Act and consider seeking legal advice to ensure you’re following the appropriate procedures and meeting all legal requirements.

What rights do tenants have?

In Ontario, tenants have certain rights when their landlord has notified them of a renovation to their unit. These rights are designed to protect tenants and ensure that they are treated fairly during the renovation process. Here are some key rights that tenants have.

  1. Right to Notice: Landlords must provide tenants with reasonable written notice before renovations begin. The notice should include details about the nature of the renovations, the expected start and end dates and how the renovations might impact the tenant’s use of the unit.
  2. Right to Quiet Enjoyment: Tenants have the right to “quiet enjoyment” of their rental unit. This means that landlords cannot unreasonably disrupt the tenant’s use and enjoyment of the unit, even during renovations.
  3. Right to Information: Tenants have the right to know the specific details of the renovations, including the reason for the renovations, the scope of the work and any potential inconvenience they may face.
  4. Right to Compensation for Disruption: If the renovations are extensive and cause significant disruption to the tenant, they might have the right to request compensation or a rent reduction for the duration of the renovations.
  5. Right to Terminate the Tenancy: In some cases, if the renovations are extensive and will substantially interfere with the tenant’s use of the unit, the tenant might have the right to terminate the tenancy without penalty.
  6. Right to Reasonable Access: Landlords have the right to access the unit to carry out renovations, but they must provide reasonable notice and coordinate with the tenants to schedule convenient times for access. The tenant’s privacy and comfort should be respected.
  7. Right to a Restored Unit: Once the renovations are complete, the landlord is responsible for ensuring that the unit is returned to its previous condition. This includes repairing any damage caused during the renovations and ensuring that all amenities are in working order.
  8. Right to Maintenance: While the renovations are ongoing, the landlord is still responsible for maintaining the unit in a habitable condition. Basic services such as water, heat and electricity must continue to be provided.

It’s important for tenants to be aware of their rights and to communicate with their landlords to ensure a smooth renovation process. 

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What is a renoviction or a demoviction?

A renoviction or demoviction is a term used to describe the moment when a landlord evicts tenants from a rental property under the pretext of conducting extensive renovations. The landlord must give the tenant at least 120 days' notice before such a step is taken.

Renovictions or demovictions can be controversial because they can disrupt the lives of tenants who are suddenly forced to find new housing. To address the concerns, some municipalities have introduced regulations to prevent landlords from using renovations as a pretext for eviction without plans.

In April 2023, the Ontario government proposed laws regarding renovictions to protect renters. The new proposal would include requiring landlords to give tenants a 60-day grace period to move back in once renovations are complete at the same rent they were paying before.

Both landlords and tenants need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities about renovations and evictions, and to understand the local laws governing them.

What does tenant insurance cover during a renovation?

Tenant insurance covers your belongings (furniture, clothes, electronics), liability, theft, vandalism and injuries during renovations. Coverage specifics depend on your provider and policy terms.

However, you must review your policy or consult with your insurance provider to understand whether renovictions are explicitly covered.

What won’t tenant insurance cover during a renovation?

Tenant insurance is designed to provide coverage for personal belongings and to offer liability protection in case of unexpected events or damage. While the specifics of tenant insurance can vary between insurance providers and policies, certain exclusions might apply during a renovation.

These exclusions could potentially limit or exclude coverage for damages or losses that occur during renovation activities: 

  1. Property Damage During Renovation: Most tenant insurance policies have limitations or exclusions for damage that occur during renovations or alterations to the rented property. This means that if your property is damaged due to renovations (e.g., painting, remodelling, construction), your insurance might not cover the cost of repairs.
  2. Liability for Renovation Activities: If you are undertaking renovation work yourself and accidentally cause damage to the property, your liability coverage might not extend to this. You might be held responsible for the cost of repairing any damage you cause.
  3. Loss of Use During Renovations: If your rental becomes temporarily uninhabitable due to renovations, your insurance might not fully cover the costs of alternative accommodation during this period. This could leave you responsible for finding and covering the costs of a temporary place to live
  4. Theft or Damage to Renovation Materials: If you have renovation materials, such as paint, flooring or fixtures, stored in your rental unit and they are stolen or damaged, your policy might not cover these losses.
  5. Increased Liability Risk: Renovation activities can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, both to yourself and to others visiting the property. If someone gets injured during the renovation, your policy might not cover the liability claims associated with these activities.
  6. Professional Contractors’ Insurance: If you hire professional contractors to perform renovations, their activities might not be covered by your tenant insurance. Contractors typically have their own insurance policies to cover their work, liability and potential damages.
  7. Extra Living Costs: If you need to temporarily relocate due to the renovations, your tenant’s insurance won’t cover additional living expenses, such as hotel stays and meals, during the displacement period.

It’s important to note that insurance policies can vary widely, and the specific terms, conditions and exclusions of your policy will depend on your insurance provider and the policy you’ve chosen.

The importance of reviewing your policy

Tenant’s insurance is your safety net in the rental world, providing peace of mind that’s especially vital during a landlord’s renovations. With renovations, the unexpected can occur, that’s where the tenant’s insurance steps in, easing financial worries.

But always review your policy and the specific terms, condition and exclusions therein before making any major decisions. This can include the adequacy of coverage, liability, deductibles, endorsements, premium costs, changes in regulations, life changes and your claims history.

Reviewing you tenant’s insurance policy is a proactive step to ensure that your coverage meets your current needs and provides you with adequate protection. It allows you to make informed decisions about your insurance and make any necessary adjustments to avoid potential gaps in coverage.

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