LANDLORD AND TENANT: RENTAL RULES
In Ontario, the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 sets down the rules which can help ensure that the renting experience will be pleasant for both parties – for landlords and tenants, and 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
Rules about Rent
- A landlord and tenant decide how much the rent will be and which services will be included in the rent (for example, parking, cable, heat, electricity). Both parties have to determine the date when rent is due and the way of rent delivery.
- Paying rent on time: Verbal or written tenancy agreement should be clear about: the day that rent payments are due; the way on how rent payment is to be delivered to the landlord; and the method of payment. It is very important that rent payments are made on time. The rent is late if the full amount is not paid by midnight on the day it is due. A landlord does not have to accept partial payment of rent. Payments are usually made by either cash or cheque. The tenant must deliver the rent payment to a place agreed to or set by the landlord. If a rent payment is mailed, the tenant should mail it in advance so that it gets to the landlord by the due date. The tenant should allow at least five days for delivery. A landlord must give the tenant a receipt for any rent payment.
- Tenant is not allowed to withhold rent: A tenant should not withhold any part of the rent, even if the tenant feels that maintenance is poor or a necessary repair has not been done. A tenant could be evicted, if they withhold rent without getting approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board.
- Receipt for payment: A landlord shall provide free of charge to a tenant or former tenant, on request, a receipt for the payment of any rent, rent deposit, arrears of rent or any other amount paid to the landlord.
- Landlord not to charge more than lawful rent
Rules about Rent Increase
- Increase void without notice: A landlord must give at least 90 days notice in writing of any rent increase. An increase in rent is void if the landlord has not given the notice required by the Residential Tenancies Act. The landlord must give a new notice before the landlord can take the increase.
- 12-month rule: In most cases, a landlord who is lawfully entitled to increase the rent charged to a tenant for a rental unit may do so only if at least 12 months have elapsed, since the day of the last rent increase for that tenant in that rental unit, if there has been a previous increase; or since the day the rental unit was first rented to that tenant.
- Rent increase guideline: There is the rent increase guideline which is set each year by the Ontario Government. It is based on the Consumer Price Index. Each year, the Government announces the guideline by August 31st for rent increases that will take effect on or after January 1st of the following year. A landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an increase above the guideline if: 1) the landlord’s costs for municipal taxes and charges, and/or utilities (such as fuel, electricity or water) have increased significantly; or 2) the landlord has done major repairs or renovations (these are called capital expenditures); or 3) the landlord has operating costs for security services performed by persons who are not employees of the landlord.
Rules about Security and Rent Deposits
- General: A landlord can collect a rent deposit from a new tenant on or before the start of a new tenancy. Where the tenant pays rent by the month, the deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent; where the tenant pays rent by the week, the deposit cannot be more than one week’s rent. The rent deposit can only be used as the rent payment for the last month or week before the tenant moves out. It cannot be used for anything else, such as repairing damage to the rental unit. If the landlord gives the tenant a notice to increase the rent, the landlord can also ask the tenant to increase the rent deposit by the same amount. Landlord must pay the tenant interest on the rent deposit every year.
- Security deposits: The only security deposit that a landlord may collect is a rent deposit. “Security deposit” means money, property or a right paid or given by, or on behalf of, a tenant of a rental unit to a landlord or to anyone on the landlord’s behalf to be held by or for the account of the landlord as security for the performance of an obligation or the payment of a liability of the tenant or to be returned to the tenant upon the happening of a condition.
- Rent deposit: A landlord may require a tenant to pay a rent deposit with respect to a tenancy if the landlord does so on or before entering into the tenancy agreement. The amount of a rent deposit shall not be more than the amount of rent for one rent period. If the lawful rent increases after a tenant has paid a rent deposit, the landlord may require the tenant to pay an additional amount to increase the rent deposit. A landlord shall pay interest to the tenant annually on the amount of the rent deposit.
- Rent deposit, prospective tenant: A landlord shall repay the amount received as a rent deposit in respect of a rental unit if vacant possession of the rental unit is not given to the prospective tenant.
A subtenant may apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board as if the subtenant were the tenant and the tenant were the landlord.
Rules about Maintenance and Repairs
- 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.
- A tenant is responsible for ordinary cleanliness of the rental unit, except to the extent that the tenancy agreement requires the landlord to clean it. The tenant has to keep the home in a way that most people think is clean. A tenant is responsible for the repair or fix of undue damage to the rental unit or residential complex. The tenant must repair or pay for the repair of any damage to the rental property caused by the tenant, the tenant’s guest or another person who lives in the rental unit. This includes damage in the tenant’s unit, as well as any common area such as a hallway, elevator, stairway, driveway or parking area. It does not matter whether the damage was done on purpose or by not being careful enough – the tenant is responsible. However, the tenant is not responsible to repair damage caused by normal “wear and tear”. For example, if the carpet has become worn after years of normal use, the tenant would not have to replace the carpet.
- Garbage removal: One of the biggest problem areas for landlords is improper removal of garbage. In addition to being unsanitary, uncollected garbage makes the rental property look run-down. The rules should clearly state how frequently garbage must be removed and where garbage should be placed for removal.
Rules about Vital Services
Landlord is responsible for providing with vital services. A landlord cannot shut off or deliberately interfere with the supply of vital services, or care service, or food that the landlord must provide under a tenancy agreement. 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. The vital services are the following:
- heat (from September 1st to June 15th: during this period, the minimum temperature is 20oC)
- fuel (such as natural gas or oil)
- hot or cold water
Landlord not to interfere with 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.
Tenant to be reasonably quiet
A tenant should not disturb others who live in the same building.
Landlord not to harass
A landlord shall not harass, obstruct, coerce, threaten or interfere with a tenant.
Tenant not to harass
A tenant shall not harass, obstruct, coerce, threaten or interfere with a landlord.
Rules about Changing Locks
- A 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. A landlord cannot lock a tenant out of their rental unit unless the landlord has an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board and the Sheriff comes to the rental unit to enforce it.
- A tenant shall not alter the locking system on a door giving entry to a rental unit or residential complex without the consent of the landlord. The tenant is not allowed to change the locking system on the door that gives entry to the rental unit unless they get their landlord’s permission.
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.
Rules about Entering the Rental Unit
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 is not allowed to enter a rental unite without written notice. The landlord may enter a rental unit in accordance with written notice given to the tenant at least 24 hours before the time of entry.
Entry without notice
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)
Entry with 24 hours written notice
A landlord can enter the rental unit between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and only if they have given the tenant 24 hours written notice:
- to make repairs or do work in the unit,
- to carry out an inspection, where reasonable, in order to determine whether repairs are needed,
- to allow a potential mortgagee or insurer of the complex to view the unit,
- to allow a potential purchaser to view the rental unit (note: the Act also allows a registered real estate agent or broker to enter for this purpose if they have written authorization from the landlord),
- to allow an engineer, architect or other similar professional to make an inspection for a proposed conversion under the Condominium Act; or
- for any reasonable purpose allowed by the rental agreement.
The notice must include the reason why the landlord wants to enter the rental unit and must state what time, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., the landlord will enter the unit. If the landlord gives the tenant the correct notice, the landlord can enter even if the tenant is not at home.
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.
Rules about Eviction of Tenant
The Residential Tenancies Act permits a landlord to terminate a tenancy early for several reasons. Most provisions for early termination of tenancy provide a tenant the option of avoiding termination by correcting the problem within a specific time frame. If a landlord gives a tenant(s) a notice that he/she wants them to leave, and they do not agree, a landlord have the right to file an application and have a hearing with the Landlord and Tenant Board. If a tenant does not agree with what is in the notice, they do not have to move out of the unit. This means the landlord would be required to apply for an eviction hearing and order through the Landlord and Tenant Board. The Residential Tenancies Act allows a tenant to be evicted for specific grounds including (but not limited to):
- non-payment of rent
- persistent late payments
- undue damage
- interference with the reasonable enjoyment or lawful right of the landlord
- impairing safety
- illegal act
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.