Please note: In June 2023, the Government of Ontario passed changes to the laws affecting air conditioners; however, those laws are not yet in force. The information on this page details the current rules related to air conditioning set out in Ontario’s existing laws. This page will be updated once changes to the laws affecting air conditioning are in force. To receive updates, please subscribe to our newsletter.
Can I have an air conditioner in my unit?
Whether or not you can have an air conditioner depends on your lease. Some leases specify the types of air conditioners you can have, extra fees you may be charged, and other requirements, like asking your landlord for permission. Other leases do not specify anything about air conditioners.
If your lease says something about air conditioners, you are required to follow what your lease says.
If your lease does not say anything about air conditioners, you are allowed to have one, but you should talk to your landlord about how best to proceed.
If you are unsure how to approach your landlord, may not have a written lease, or you have any other questions that are not covered in the questions below, contact CCHR for support:
My landlord has provided air conditioning but now it isn’t working. Does the law say that they are required to fix it?
If you rent a place with air conditioning already provided, your landlord is required to maintain or repair that air conditioning at their own cost. An example of this would be if you have central air conditioning or a window unit that was already installed before you moved in.
Your landlord cannot introduce an additional fee or charge you to fix air conditioning that they provided to you.
To learn more about your landlord’s duty to make repairs see our FAQ on maintenance in rental housing.
I want to buy my own air conditioner for my unit. Can I do that?
Take a look at your lease. If your lease does not say anything about air conditioners, then your landlord cannot prevent you from using one as long as it can be safely installed and operated, and does not cause any damage or disturb any other tenants.
Some leases require that the tenant must ask the landlord for permission to install a window air conditioner. Your landlord may be hesitant to allow you to use a window unit as they may want to ensure that it is installed properly and safely. If this is their concern, you could offer to hire a professional to install it or you could offer to use a portable air conditioner, which sits on the floor and does not need to be installed in a window.
Either way, you should try to get permission to use an air conditioner from your landlord in writing.
Can my landlord charge me for air conditioning?
First, you should review your lease. If you agreed in your lease to pay a fee for air conditioning, then you will have to pay for air conditioning.
If your lease does not say anything about air conditioning, then your landlord cannot charge you extra for having an air conditioner. You should make sure that your air conditioner is installed safely and does not cause damage or disturb your neighbours.
If your lease says that you need permission to have an air conditioner, you should talk to your landlord. If electricity (hydro) is included in your rent, your landlord may be able to ask you to pay an extra fee for air conditioning for the months that you would use it. The amount charged to you cannot be more than the actual cost to your landlord and it must be “reasonable.” You and your landlord could agree that the extra charge should only be applied during the months that you use air conditioning, or that it should be spread out over the year.
Steps to Justice provides this scenario as an example:
“If you and your landlord agree that an air conditioner will add $30 a month to the landlord’s electric bill, and you will use it for 4 months each year, you could spread the total cost of $120 over the full year by increasing the rent by $10 a month.”
Either way, make sure you get the agreement with your landlord in writing.
If you have any additional questions about air conditioning charges, contact CCHR:
I live with a disability and need an air conditioner because of my disability. What can I do?
Under the Ontario Human Rights Code your landlord is obligated to accommodate your disability, which could include permitting you to have an air conditioner. Your landlord is only discharged of their obligation to accommodate your needs if they can demonstrate that making the accommodations you asked for would result in “undue hardship.”
To do that, your landlord would need to prove that:
- the costs for making an accommodation would be so high that it would affect the very survival or change the essential nature of their business; and
- no outside sources of funding are available to assist with the accommodation process; or
- health and safety risks of making the accommodation would outweigh any benefit of the accommodation itself.
If you need to request an accommodation, you should give your landlord a written request explaining your need for the accommodation, along with a letter from your doctor explaining why you need air conditioning.
CCHR has a self-advocacy toolkit that walks tenants through the process of requesting accommodation from their landlord. CCHR also provides assistance to tenants throughout this process, including advocating directly with landlords.
- Contact us if you need support:
If you have made a request and you don’t think it has been properly accommodated by your landlord, you can file an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
For more information about how to pursue an application at the Tribunal, reach out to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre:
- Call: 1-866-625-5179 OR 416-597-4900
- Visit: www.hrlsc.on.ca
If you need help in your housing, we may be able to assist you.
The Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR) provides free, individualized services to renters in Ontario who are facing challenges in their housing.
Learn more about Ontario renters’ rights and landlord responsibilities.
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