Unlicensed work in our apartment building

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Posted by: from Guelph
2/7/2014 at 12:39:20 PM

I am in my first year apprenticeship in Carpentry and I live in a building where the maintenance guys aren't licensed in anything. Granted they are nice enough guys, but when it comes to hard wiring lights and changing out outlets.

I was told by several of my peers that you have to be a licensed Electrician. No? I thought the same went for plumbing as well.

Any info/references you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Picture is of light in question (I couldn't rotate the picture so the top is the left side)

unlicensed work in our apartment building
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Date/Time2/7/2014 at 1:12:12 PM

You are absolutely right Josh. Any electrical work being done needs to be performed by a licensed, insured and certified electrician. Unfortunately there are many rental units and the people owning/operating them try and fix things themselves to save money.

If you want to take it this far you can and should report it to the housing authority in your area. Absolutely. We service Durham Region unfortunately but would be happy to help otherwise.

Again I would suggest contacting your local rental housing authority; not sure if this is the right place but they maybe can direct you if not

Hats off to you though for being concerned about this!

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Date/Time2/7/2014 at 1:18:50 PM

Joe is right. Most handymen like myself will change a light or replace an outlet, but when it comes to running wires and hard wiring new lights, I recommend a licensed Electrician to my customers.

I would definitely report this to the housing authority and have them send in the proper inspectors to assess the "damage".

Good call, and I wouldn't use that light!

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Mirek from Mirek Electric in Mississauga
Date/Time2/7/2014 at 1:18:56 PM

Hi Josh,

As you probably know electrical work is highly regulated by the ESA.

Any electrical work done by unlicensed person is against the law in Ontario.

I would contact the ESA at 1-877-ESA-SAFE and let them know what's going on.

Some time we have to look at the bigger picture, like preventing property damage or even some one's life.


Mirek Electric

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Josh in Guelph
Date/Time2/7/2014 at 2:50:22 PM

Thank you guys for your speedy replies. I will be in contact with some authority about this.


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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time2/7/2014 at 5:38:22 PM


Before you get too excited, there is no rule that stops people from hanging their own light fixtures; adding or repairing these wires does require the license.

But looking at the substandard work tells me they have no clue about safety (property or life) and the building owner needs to be aware of these hazardous conditions before an electrical fire or shock hazard is created.

People being nice does not prevent them from causing harm to others. They should have at least minimal training on how to repair things like this or DON'T DO IT!

Good luck.

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Date/Time2/7/2014 at 8:41:28 PM

Hi Josh

You need to be careful about some of the advice that you are getting. I cannot speak about other trades, but in the electrical there are a number of limitations in the province of Ontario.

For the most part any homeowner or tenant can hang their own light fixtures or change out a receptacle or switch, etc. That is not considered electrical work. The caveat is that they cannot modify the circuit in any way. Now in your case, you have maintenance personnel doing the work. This is a separate category and there are some restrictions according to the electrical act in what they can or cannot do as well.

Since maintenance men are not owners of the home or tenants of the unit, the employer is obligated to ensure that they have a skill set that is acceptable for doing electrical work. However in this case you have to be sure that the work they are doing is electrical work and not maintenance work. If it is electrical work, it must be inspected by the ESA. This is usually done once per year on a program that they call the Continuous Safety Services (CSS). Essentially it is a logbook of work that was done by maintenance personnel that is inspected once per year.

Having said that, to qualify for this, the maintenance must be regular employees and have completed training by the employer to do the work they are requested to perform. As an electrical contractor, I cannot go to a facility and do work under the CSS; I need to get my own permit and inspection. This also applies to other contractors', they cannot do electrical work under the CSS, it must be done by an employee of the owner of the building.

So in your case, I don't think you have an issue to say that these guys are unlicensed and are doing electrical work. I think what you might have is an issue of the quality of work that is considered maintenance which could lead to a fire or shock hazard. If that is the case, then the ESA can order them to be suspended from the CSS and require all work to be completed by an electrical contractor regardless if it is maintenance or electrical work.


John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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Date/Time2/8/2014 at 10:45:56 AM


The electrical part has been covered exceptionally well. As for as plumbing goes, any idiot can do plumbing for a rental unit and I've seen lots. It's an insurance issue. The exclusion to the rule is replacing or repairing any part of the stack or underground waste lines, You need a license for this part.

Other sticky parts are gas ie: appliance repair and replacement, you need some form of certification,

The rest for the most part are none regulated trades, including yours.

Good luck and if you can stick it out go for your red seal (IP), I have 3 one as a Carpenter. Before semi retirement that seal let me work just about any were in North America, of course the U.S. gets a little upset if you don't have the right paper work.

Hope this helps and good luck

John R. Miller

Superior Handyman

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