By-laws & Laws for Landlords

Landlords have responsibilities in terms of heat, smoke alarms and vital services for their tenants.

Hamilton’s Heat By-law No. 04-091 (PDF, 286 KB) requires landlords to maintain an air temperature of at least 20°C (68°F) in all spaces rented for living in. The heat used must come from a safe, operable and permanent heating source capable of maintaining that temperature.  This By-law is in effect from September 15th to May 15th each year. 

Landlords are responsible for smoke alarm maintenance in residential rental units. Landlords must:

  • Take action when a tenant or occupant reports a problem or files a complaint about a smoke alarm not working or not working properly.
  • Have a testing and maintenance schedule for smoke alarms. The testing can only be carried out with full co-operation of tenants or occupants, since access to the smoke alarm must be available. Lease agreements should include provisions for access to the unit for testing and maintenance.

Unless it is an emergency, the Residential Tenancies Act requires that landlords give 24 hours written notice to enter a tenant’s premises. The time of entry must be between 8 am and 8 pm.

View the Office of the Fire Marshal Guidelines for the Maintenance of Smoke Alarms.

Hamilton’s Vital Services By-law No. 09-190 (PDF) protects you if:

  1. Your landlord is the person or company responsible for paying for utilities under your lease agreement
  2. Your utilities have been or are about to be shut off because your landlord has not paid the utility bill

If you meet these conditions, the By-law may allow the City of Hamilton to pay the monthly utility bills so that the service can be turned back on temporarily. The By-Law does not apply if the tenant has agreed as part of their lease agreement to pay utility bills for vital services including fuel, electricity and/or gas.

Landlords cannot end a vital service except when necessary to change or repair the rental unit.  They can only end the service for the for the least amount of time is necessary to fix the problem.

The supplier of fuel, electricity or gas cannot legally stop providing the vital service to a rental unit unless they have given a written notice of a discontinuance of the vital service to the City at least 30 days before the vital service is turned off.

Property By-laws

Your rental agreement should say who is responsible for maintaining the property according to the following property by-laws:

All property owners must maintain and repair the interior and exterior of their property in accordance with the Property Standards By-law. These standards are put in place to protect the health and safety of occupants and the general public.

The By-law addresses the physical building itself and areas on and around the land or property. Areas include:


  • Doors and windows
  • Interior stairs
  • Floors and walls
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical


  • Exterior walls and roofs
  • Eaves troughs and downspouts
  • Balconies, porches and exterior stairs
  • Fences, barriers, and retaining walls
  • Garages and sheds

Owner responsibility

The property owner must make sure all violations of Hamilton’s Property Standards By-law No.10-221 are corrected. In some cases, the property occupants may have to correct the violation. The rental agreement should say who is responsible to make repairs.

Read more about Hamilton’s Property Standards By-law No. 10-221 (PDF, 161 MB)

You must clear all snow and ice from your sidewalks within 24 hours after a snowfall, or 24 hours after a series of snowfalls. 

Read about Hamilton’s Snow Off Sidewalks By-law No. 03-296

The Yard Maintenance By-law requires every property owner and possibly tenants to:

  • keep their property clear of waste
  • ensure grass and weeds do not exceed 20 cm (8 inches) in height
  • keep the exterior of the property free of graffiti including all buildings, structures, fences, walls and vehicles 

Responsibilities of property owners and tenants

The property owner is responsible for making sure the conditions of the By-law are met. Check your lease agreement to see if you are responsible for any property maintenance.