I’m a small landlord having big problems with my tenants. Where I have to go and ask for help? Go to the Police? Or maybe sue through the Small Claims Court?
The legal institution that deals with all matters concerning landlord and tenant issues is the Ontario Landlord & Tenant Board. At Landlord & Tenant Board Office they can provide you with information about the Residential Tenancies Act and the processes; they cannot provide you with legal advice. It is always a good idea to hire a Paralegal to help you out. You can contact the Landlord & Tenant Board:
- On-line: www.ltb.gov.on.ca
- Call at 416-645-8080 or toll-free at 1-888-332-3234 and speak to one of the Customer Service Representatives, which are available Monday to Friday, except holidays, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
What does the Landlord and Tenant Board do?
The Landlord and Tenant Board (the Board) was created by the Residential Tenancies Act (the RTA) which came into force on January 31, 2007. This Act gives residential landlords and tenants specific rights and responsibilities, and sets out a process for how these rights and responsibilities can be enforced.
What is the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, about?
The Residential Tenancies Act covers most residential rental units in Ontario including mobile homes, care homes and rooming and boarding houses. The Act sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants who rent residential properties. The Act does not cover commercial tenancies. The Residential Tenancies Act covers most of the landlord-tenant related matters:
- Landlord Rights and Responsibilities
- Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
- Tenancy Agreement
- Rules for Rent
- Maintenance and Repairs
- Care Homes and Mobile Homes
- Entering the Rental Unit
- Security of Tenure
- Ending a Tenancy
- Landlord and Tenant Board
- Board Proceedings
- Vital Services
- Evicting a tenant
- Enforcement of an Order and more
Which rental units are not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act?
There are some situations where a rental unit may not be covered by the Act or certain parts of the Act. The Residential Tenancies Act does not apply to people living in:
- Emergency shelters
- Hospitals or nursing homes
- Non-profit and public housing
- University and college student residence or dormitories
- Units that are used on a seasonal or temporary basis
- Those sharing a kitchen or bathroom with the owner or certain family members of the owner
Do landlords and tenants have to have a written lease or tenancy agreement?
The Residential Tenancies Act does not require all landlords and tenants to have a written tenancy agreement. A tenancy agreement can be an oral or written arrangement. However, it is generally better to have a written agreement. A written agreement creates a record of the things agreed to by the landlord and tenant. If there is a dispute later, a written record of the agreement may help to settle the dispute.
What information should be included in a tenancy agreement?
If the tenancy agreement is in writing, it must set out:
- the legal name and address of the landlord so that the tenant knows where to send any notices or documents.
- the date the tenant will move into the rental unit
- the rent amount
- the date rent is to be paid
- what services are included in the rent (such as electricity or parking) and any separate charges
- the rules that the landlord requires all tenants to follow
Can a landlord charge a person a deposit or a fee for allowing them to rent a unit?
Yes, a landlord can collect a rent deposit if it is requested on or before the day that the landlord and tenant enter into the tenancy agreement. The rent deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent or the rent for one rental period, whichever is less. For example, if rent payments are made weekly, the deposit cannot be more than one week’s rent; if rent payments are made monthly or bi-monthly, the deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent.
Can the landlord refuse to rent to a person if they have a pet?
Yes, if a landlord has a “no pets” policy and they learn that a person applying to rent an apartment has a pet, the landlord may refuse to rent to that person. The Residential Tenancies Act states that any clause in a lease that prohibits pets is void. This means that once a person becomes a tenant, if they have a pet even though the lease says pets are not allowed, the landlord cannot evict the tenant just for having the pet. However, the Landlord can apply to the Board to evict a tenant if the pet is causing a problem.
Can a landlord ask a person applying for a rental unit to provide information about their Income, credit references and rental history?
Yes, when choosing a new tenant, a landlord can ask the person applying for the rental unit to provide information such as: current residence, rental history, employment history, personal references and income information (if credit references and rental history information are also requested).
Can a tenant withhold rent because their landlord isn’t properly maintaining their building or unit?
No. If the tenant withholds rent, the landlord can give the tenant a notice of termination for non-payment of rent and then file an application to evict the tenant.
When does a landlord have to turn the heat on? What temperature does my landlord have to keep my apartment at?
If a landlord provides heat, the Act requires the landlord to keep the heat to at least 20 degrees Celsius from September 1 to June 15.
Can a tenant change the locks?
A tenant cannot change the locks unless the landlord agrees. Also, the tenant cannot add locks that might stop a landlord from entering the unit if there is an emergency or if the landlord has a valid reason for entering the rental unit and the landlord has given the tenant proper notice to enter. If the tenant does change the lock, a copy of the key should be given to the landlord immediately.
When is the rent considered late?
Rent is considered late if it is not paid by the day that it is due. For example, if the rent is due on the 1st of the month and it is not paid by on that day, it is late.
If a tenant is late with their rent, what can the landlord do?
If a tenant does not pay rent on the date that it is due, the landlord can give the tenant a Notice to End a Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent (Form N4). This notice gives a tenant who pays rent monthly 14 days to pay the rent due or to move out. If the rent is not paid, and the tenant does not move, the landlord can make an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order:
- requiring the tenant to pay the rent that is owing, and
- evicting the tenant if they do not make the entire payment by a specified deadline
What is the process for evicting a tenant?
In most situations, before a landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to evict the tenant, they must first give the tenant a Notice of Termination that tells the tenant what the problem is. For some termination notices, the landlord must wait a specific number of days to see if the tenant corrects the problem before they can file the application with the Landlord and Tenant Board. The number of days the tenant has to correct the problem is set out in the notice. If the tenant does not correct the problem and/or does not move out, the landlord can file an application with the Landlord and Tenant Board and in most situations a hearing will be scheduled. At the hearing, the parties can appear in front of a Member of the Board. The Member will listen to what each person has to say and then make a decision. If an eviction order is issued, it tells the tenant when they must be out of the unit. If they do not move out, then the landlord can file this order with the Court Enforcement Office. Only the Sheriff can evict a tenant who does not leave a unit as directed by an eviction order issued by the Board
Can a tenant be evicted without a hearing?
Yes, for some types of applications an ex parte order can be issued without holding a hearing.
Can a tenant be evicted in the winter?
Yes. There is nothing in the Residential Tenancies Act that prevents a tenant from being evicted during the winter months.
For what reasons can a landlord evict a tenant?
For some reasons, a landlord can only evict a tenant at the end of the tenancy agreement (at the end of a lease) – in most of these situations, the tenant has not done anything wrong, but the landlord needs the unit back. Other reasons allow a landlord to evict a tenant in the middle of their tenancy agreement or lease – generally, when the tenant has done something wrong. For example, the tenant has not paid their rent or has damaged the rental property.
Can a tenant be evicted for having a roommate?
No, a tenant cannot be evicted simply for having a roommate. However, a tenant may be evicted if the roommate is causing a problem for the landlord or for other tenants. For example, if the roommate is making a lot of noise, damaging the unit, or there are too many roommates (overcrowding), the landlord can serve a notice of termination and apply to evict the tenant and any other occupants of the unit.
Can a tenant be evicted if the landlord wants to use the unit themselves?
Yes, a tenant can be evicted if a landlord “in good faith” requires the unit for:
- their own use
- the use of an immediate family member
- the use of a person who will provide care services to the landlord or a member of the landlord’s immediate family, if the person who will be receiving the care services lives in the same building or complex.
Can a tenant be evicted for something that their roommate or a guest they allow into the rental unit does?
Yes, a number of the reasons for eviction are based on problems caused by an occupant of the unit (someone that the tenant lets live with them), or a guest that the tenant lets into their building. So, for example, if a tenant’s guest punches a hole in the hallway wall, the landlord could give the tenant a notice of termination and, if the problem isn’t resolved, make an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board to evict the tenant.
Do I need to get a lawyer or agent?
You are not required to have a lawyer or agent with you at a Landlord and Tenant Board hearing – you can present your own case to the Member. But, if you think that your case is difficult, or you would feel more comfortable if we represent your case, you can hire CP Paralegal Solutions. This is a decision that you have to make.
Can I ask someone else to go to the hearing in my place?
Yes. If you cannot be there, you can ask someone to go in your place. You must give them written authorization, signed by you, that says you are allowing them to speak for you and to represent you at the hearing (or in mediation). CP Paralegal Solutions can represent you and defend your rights.
What if the hearing date is not good for me – can I have it moved to another day?
Your hearing date can only be changed if you get all the other parties to agree. If all the parties agree, you should tell the in writing that you would like the hearing to be rescheduled. Otherwise, you have to come to the hearing (or send someone on your behalf who has your written authorization – see previous question) to ask if the hearing can be changed to a new date. If the Member says no, the hearing will take place on that day.
What happens if I am late for my hearing or do not attend it?
If you do not arrive by the time your hearing starts, a Member can do one of these things:
- If you filed the application, the Member may decide that you have abandoned your application and do not want to continue with it. The Member could dismiss your application.
- If the application was filed against you, the Member may decide that the hearing will go ahead without you. The Member will make a decision about the application without the evidence that you may have given if you were there.