LANDLORD AND TENANT: TENANT RIGHTS
As a tenant in Ontario, you have legal rights. These rights are explained in the Human Rights Code and the Residential Tenancies Act. The Human Rights Code applies to every person in Ontario. The Residential Tenancies Act applies to most people who rent their housing.
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 covers all aspects of Landlord-Tenant relationships:
- the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants
- the procedures of resolving disputes between landlords and tenants through either mediation or adjudication
- the rules for rent increases in most residential rental units and procedures to enforce these rules
- the role of the Landlord and Tenant Board
Tenant to be provided with copies of documents
A landlord and tenant can sign a written rental agreement or they can have an oral agreement. The landlord must:
- give the tenant a copy of written tenancy agreement within 21 days after the day the agreement was signed
- provide with the landlord’s legal name and address within 21 days after tenancy begins, so that the tenant can give the landlord any necessary notices or documents
- whether it is a written or oral lease, provide new tenants with information about the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants and about the role of the Landlord and Tenant Board in a form approved by the Board. The Landlord and Tenant Board has a two-page brochure that landlords should use for this purpose
Controlled rent increases
A landlord may raise tenant’s rent once in a 12-month period. The amount of the increase has to be within legal limits.
Tenant’s right for a well maintained housing
A rental unit must be maintained to the minimum Maintenance Standards set out in the provincial and municipal regulations and Residential Tenancies Act. The Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing enforces the provincial maintenance standards. The landlord must follow all fire safety laws.
The local municipal government may inspect the property for any bylaw violations and issue a notice of violation or a municipal work order that requires the landlord to make repairs by a deadline. If the landlord does not do the repairs, the local municipal government can take the landlord to court for not following the bylaw, do the work and add the cost to the landlord’s property taxes, or do both these things.
A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. The landlord is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the common or shared areas of the building, such as hallways and yards; and also – for removing snow from driveways, walkways, etc. A tenant can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board if the landlord is not meeting their maintenance obligations. If the Landlord and Tenant Board agrees that the landlord is not meeting their maintenance obligations, there are a number of remedies the Landlord and Tenant Board can order.
Tenant’s right for vital services
A tenant has the right to live in a rental unit without interference with the supply of vital services such as: heat (from September 1st to June 15th: during this period, the minimum temperature is 20oC); electricity; fuel (such as natural gas or oil); and hot or cold water. However, the landlord is allowed to shut-off services temporarily if this is necessary for maintenance or to make repairs. The landlord is not allowed to cut vital services as a result of non-payment of rent.
Tenant’s right for reasonable enjoyment
A landlord shall not at any time during a tenant’s occupancy of a rental unit and before the day on which an order evicting the tenant is executed substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit or the residential complex in which it is located for all usual purposes by a tenant or members of his or her household.
A landlord shall not harass, obstruct, coerce, threaten or interfere with a tenant.
Tenant is not to be locked out
It is illegal for a landlord to lock a tenant out of their unit. The tenant cannot be forced to move out unless the landlord has a legal reason to end the tenancy and received an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board and the Sheriff comes to the rental unit to enforce it. The landlord shall not alter the locking system on a door giving entry to a rental unit or residential complex or cause the locking system to be altered during the tenant’s occupancy of the rental unit without giving the tenant replacement keys.
If the landlord locks the tenant out or evicts them illegally, the tenant can call the Police or the Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
It is illegal for a landlord to change the locks to a rental unit or the building, without giving the tenant a key for the new locks. The only exceptions are where:
- the locks are changed because the tenant has been evicted by the Sheriff, or
- the landlord is sure that the tenant has abandoned the unit
It is an offence for a landlord to illegally lock a tenant out of their rental unit or the building. If a landlord is convicted in Provincial Court under the Provincial Offences Act, they could be fined up to $25,000 if the landlord is an individual, or $100,000, if the landlord is a corporation.
If a tenant is illegally locked out and if the unit is still vacant, the tenant can apply to the Board for an order that requires the landlord to let the tenant back into the unit.
Tenant’s Right for Privacy
A landlord can only enter a rental unit for the reasons allowed by the Act. In most cases, before entering your unit, your landlord must give you 24 hours written notice. In Canada, every individual has a right for privacy which is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Privacy Act and other laws. According to the law, a landlord has to provide a tenant with their privacy. A landlord may enter a rental unit without written notice:
- in cases of emergency at any time
- if the tenant consents to the entry at the time of entry
- to clean the rental unit if the tenancy agreement requires the landlord to clean the rental unit at regular intervals and
- the landlord enters the unit at the times specified in the tenancy agreement
- if no times are specified, the landlord enters the unit between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
- to show the unit to prospective tenants (before entering, the landlord informs or makes a reasonable effort to inform the tenant of the intention to do so)
Landlord is not allowed to take tenant’s personal property
If a tenant damages the landlord’s property or does not pay rent still living in a rental unit, a landlord cannot take tenant’s personal property.
CP Paralegal Services can give you an advice on all residential tenancy matters or represent you at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board.
We are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and can ensure you are in compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act.