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My landlord wants to show my place to prospective tenants or buyers. Can I stop people from coming in if I’m worried about COVID-19?

My landlord wants to show my place to prospective tenants or buyers. Can I stop people from coming in if I’m worried about COVID-19?
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My landlord wants to show my place to prospective tenants or buyers. Can I stop people from coming in if I’m worried about COVID-19?
March 31, 2020

Your landlord normally has some rights to show your place if they give you proper notice. The time they are coming in must be between 8 am and 8 pm. You can agree to a different time, but you don’t have to.

To show your place to a possible buyer, insurer, or mortgage lender, your landlord must give you notice in writing at least 24 hours ahead of time.

Your landlord can show your place to a possible tenant only if:

  • you have given notice to move out,
  • your landlord has given you a notice to move out, or
  • you and your landlord have agreed that you will move out.

In these situations, the landlord doesn’t have to give you a written notice but they must make a reasonable effort to let you know when they are coming.

COVID-19 Tenant Health and Safety
COVID-19 Tenant Health and Safety

Learn about landlord and tenant responsibilities.

Showings during the COVID-19 emergency

Many tenants don’t want to let people into their home during the COVID-19 outbreak. If your landlord has followed the above rules about notice and time of entry, you might have to try to persuade them not to show your place. But your landlord might not agree to your request.

Tell your landlord if:

  • you’re self-isolating or quarantined based on public health information or directions,
  • you're actually ill from the virus,
  • you’re concerned that people coming into your place could be spreading infection, or
  • you just want to follow public health recommendations about “social distancing”.

You should also review current public health information and contact Telehealth Ontario about your concerns.

You might want to plan to be outside when your place is being shown. You can ask your landlord to make sure people don’t touch anything. You can also ask the landlord to disinfect things like doorknobs and cupboard handles after each showing.

If your landlord is using a real estate agent, they should know that the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) has stated that “it’s time to stop all face-to-face business including open houses […] and in-person showings, especially in cases where a property is tenant-occupied”. 

If you’re at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 because of a medical condition that you already have, this counts as having a disability under the Ontario Human Rights Code. This means your landlord has to accommodate your needs. Your landlord can ask for medical documentation to confirm what you say.

For legal help and advice about the Human Rights Code, you can contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

Refusing to allow showings

If your landlord or their agent still wants to the show the place and you’re not satisfied that they are taking enough precautions, you might decide not to let them in. It’s a good idea to tell the landlord in writing and explain your reasons. The Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations has created a sample letter you may want to use.

Try to get legal advice if you are in this situation. There are some risks to refusing to let your landlord show the place if they have followed the rules about notice and time of entry.

Your landlord could give you an eviction notice claiming that you’re interfering with their legal rights. If this happens, your landlord can’t evict you unless they get an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). This might be difficult for them to do during the COVID-19 emergency.

Your landlord might sue you later, claiming that not being able to show the place has cost them money.

If you were directed to self-isolate or quarantine, or if you have a disability that your landlord didn’t accommodate, the LTB or the court should consider that when deciding if you were justified in stopping people from coming into your place.

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