What are the rules for tenanted showings presently in Ontario?
A response from OREA to keep their membership informed:
As part of our We Have Your Back – COVID-19 Relief Plan, OREA has provided members with guidance on the use of videographers and other real estate services, open houses, virtual open houses, in-person business and most recently guidance on real estate transactions during stage one of Ontario’s re-opening.
On that note, I want to share with you a recent legal opinion OREA has obtained on real estate showings.
Are Real Estate Showings Prohibited in Condominiums or Tenanted Properties?
It was recently brought to our attention that certain condominium buildings are refusing to permit real estate showings of listed properties.
Let’s be clear. Members should endeavour to use digital tools and remote interaction with clients wherever possible. However, if needed, Members should know that there are simply no prohibitions in Ontario law, including the State of Emergency Orders, against in-person showings.
In order for private showings to proceed they must comply with all recommendations, advice, directives and instructions from public health officials (including local public health officials), especially with respect to physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment (such as masks and gloves), cleaning and disinfecting before and after the showing.
To help members navigate real estate transactions safely during stage one of Ontario’s re-opening of the provincial economy read OREA’s Guidance on Real Estate Transactions in Stage One of Ontario’s Framework for Reopening the Province.
Can a Tenant or Condo Manager Refuse a Showing?
Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the “RTA”) provides landlords the rights to enter the rental unit in certain circumstances when the landlord follows the procedures set out in the “RTA”.
Section 27(2) of the RTA provides that the landlord, or, with the landlord’s written authorization, a broker or salesperson registered under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002, may enter a rental unit provided that they have given written notice to the tenant at least 24 hours before they enter to allow a potential purchaser to view the unit.
In any case where at least 24 hours written notice has been given to the tenant, the written notice must set out:
- The reason for entry;
- The date the landlord will enter; and
- The time of entry between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
While the Province has suspended all eviction hearings and orders at the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) during the COVID-19 State of Emergency, it has NOT taken additional steps to restrict the rights of landlords to enter a rental unit – including for the purpose of an in-person real estate showing. Landlords continue to be legally permitted to enter a unit for the purposes outlined under section 27(2) of the RTA.
OREA strongly encourages landlords and REALTORS® to work with their tenants to accommodate their needs, do virtual showings wherever possible and ensure they are not in the property during showings. No one with an underlying health condition should be forced to permit strangers into their home during the COVID-19 state of emergency. In these instances, it is critically important that REALTORS® work proactively and positively with tenants to accommodate their concerns around health and safety.
Where in-person showings are essential, REALTORS® should ensure that they along with their clients are wearing personal protective equipment, sanitizing surfaces after each showing, limiting the number of people in units and following all OREA’s guidelines for stage one real estate transactions.
REALTORS® should take every care not to put tenants at risk and to try and schedule showings to limit the amount of times people are going through the property. In particular, REALTORS® should work with landlords to get to know the tenant and if they have any underlying health issues.
There are, however, some limitations on the ability to do showings of properties REALTORS® should be aware of. They include but are not limited to the following:
- If the property is a condominium property, the owner of the property may be subject to condominium rules that prohibit real estate showings;
- The Landlord Tenant Board has specifically contemplated showings of tenanted properties and noted that landlords are strongly advised to follow the guidance of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) and avoid in-person showings;
- Even where there is permission pursuant to section 27(2) of the RTA, the Ontario Human Rights Code (HRC) still applies and requires accommodation for persons with disabilities. Persons with illnesses who could be endangered by an in-person showing should, in accordance with the Ontario HRC, be accommodated; and,
- Commercial, institutional and industrial tenancies have no specific permissions for landlords to conduct showings under the RTA and neither do owned or life lease residential properties.
Thank you and stay safe everyone.