Vital Services


In Ontario, the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 requires every landlord to provide adequate and suitable vital services to each of the landlord’s rental units. The monthly rent that residential tenants pay to their landlord can include all utilities or part of them, for instance, hydro. Section 21 of the Residential Tenancies Act confirms that a landlord shall not at any time during a tenant’s occupancy of a rental unit withhold the reasonable supply of any vital service that it is the Landlord’s obligation to supply under the tenancy agreement.

The vital services are the following:

  • heat (from September 1st to June 15th: during this period, the minimum temperature is 20oC, however, some local municipal standards may be higher)
  • electricity
  • fuel (such as natural gas or oil)
  • hot or cold water

A landlord cannot interfere with vital services

A landlord cannot shut off or deliberately interfere with the supply of vital services, or care service, or food that the landlord must provide under a tenancy agreement. However, the landlord is allowed to shut-off services temporarily if this is necessary for maintenance or to make repairs. The landlord is not allowed to cut vital services as a result of non-payment of rent.

If a landlord provides any vital service to a tenant, the landlord cannot withhold the reasonable supply of it. This rule applies even if the tenant’s rent is overdue, or the tenant has caused damage to the property.

If a rental agreement says a tenant must arrange for the supply of one or more of these services (for example, the tenant pays for electricity to a hydro company directly), the landlord cannot deliberately interfere with the supply of those services.

If the supply of a vital service to a rental unit is cut-off because the landlord failed to pay their bills, the landlord will be considered to have withheld the supply of that service.  However, if the supply of a vital service is cut-off because the tenant failed to pay their own utility bill, the tenant cannot claim that the landlord withheld a vital service.

CP Paralegal Services can give you an advice on all residential tenancy matters or represent you at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board.

We are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and can ensure you are in compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act.