Frequently Asked Questions for Tenants

Rent

How much rent can a landlord charge a new tenant?

The Tenant Protection Act allows a landlord and tenant to negotiate the rent at the the beginning of the tenancy agreement. Since rent control was ended in the 1990s essentially the price of a new rental (a new agreement) is determined by the free market – whatever the landlord can get. Fortunately, once the tenant moves in, the rent will not increase for the next twelve months. When the rent does increase it can only increase by the rent control guideline for the year in which the increase takes effect. In some cases, the landlord may have made an application for an above guideline increase or the landlord and the tenant have agreed to a higher increase because of unit-specific capital expenditure work

 

What is vacancy de-control?

Vacancy de-control means that when rental units are vacant the legislated rules about rent do not apply. A landlord and a tenant are free to negotiate a market rent and what services are included in the rent. Once the tenant has entered into a tenancy agreement, the rules about rent and the other rules in the Tenant Protection Act apply.

 

How many times a year may the landlord raise the rent?

A landlord is allowed to raise the rent only once a year (12 months since the tenant moved in, or since the last increase in rent). And that increase may be no more than the guideline increase, or an increase amount applied to and accepted by the Tribunal.

 

Can a landlord charge a deposit or a fee to get a rental unit?

A landlord can collect a rent deposit if it is requested on or before the date that the landlord and tenant enter into a tenancy agreement. The rent deposit cannot be greater than one month’s rent, or the rent for one rental period, whichever is less. If the rent has increased since the tenant paid the deposit, the landlord may require the tenant to pay the difference for the last rent payment.

 

Does a deposit have to be returned to a tenant when they leave?

A rent deposit is to be applied to the rent payment for the last rental period before the end of the tenancy, and at the end of the tenancy the deposit must be returned.

 

Does a landlord have to pay interest if a deposit is collected?

The landlord must pay the tenant 6% interest per year on the rent deposit. If the landlord does not pay the interest owed to the tenant, the tenant can make an application to the Tribunal or deduct the interest from the rent.

Does the landlord have to notify the tenant of a rent increase?

In order for the landlord to increase the rent, the landlord must serve a written notice of rent increase to the tenant at least 90 days before the date the rent increase is to take effect. The notice must tell the tenant how much the new rent will be and when to begin paying the new amount.

 

Can a landlord decide the method that the rent is to be paid?

Yes, a landlord can tell a new tenant how the rent must be paid – by cash, cheque or money order. Post-dated cheques can be suggested, but a person cannot be denied a rental unit for refusing to give them.

 

Does the landlord have to give the tenant a rent receipt?

The Tenant Protection Act requires a landlord to provide rent receipts, free of charge, to a tenant upon request. This request can be made for any payment or deposit the tenant gives to the landlord, including any payment of rent arrears. It is an offense for a landlord to refuse to provide a receipt where it is requested.

 

Can a landlord charge a fee if a tenant’s rent cheque is returned Non Sufficient Funds (NSF)?

If a tenant’s rent cheque is returned NSF, a landlord can require the tenant to pay the landlord for the charges the landlord paid to the bank, plus an administrative charge of no more than $20.00.

 

If a tenant is late with their rent, do they have time to pay their rent before the landlord can evict them?

If a tenant fails to pay rent on the date that it is due, the landlord can serve a notice of early termination to the tenant. This notice gives the tenant 14 days to vacate the premises unless the rent is paid on or before the date of termination. If the rent is not paid, the landlord can make an application to the Tribunal for an eviction order. If a tenant is persistently late with the rent, the landlord may serve a 60 day notice of termination for the end of the rental term. This 60 day notice does not provide the tenant with the option of paying the rent in order to void the notice.

Can a tenant withhold rent because the maintenance is bad?

No. Withholding rent can put tenants in jeopardy for non-payment of rent and a possible application by the landlord for termination of the tenancy. There are other options for dealing with maintenance problems such as contacting the landlord in writing about specific problems, filling an application for rent abatement with the Tribunal, or speaking with the superintendent or property manager.

Maintenance and Repair

As a tenant, what are my obligations concerning the condition of the rented premises?

A tenant is responsible for ordinary cleanliness and for damage caused either deliberately or negligently by the tenant, or a tenant’s family member or guest.

 

What are the obligations of the landlord concerning the condition of the rented premises?

A landlord has to keep the rental property in a good state of repair. If something is not working because of normal wear and tear, the landlord must fix it. A landlord must obey all health, safety and maintenance standards in any provincial laws or municipal bylaws.

 

Who is responsible if there is damage to the unit?

A tenant is responsible for paying for repairs where the tenant or one of the tenant’s guests or visitors caused the damage.

 

Who is responsible for maintaining the unit?

It is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the unit.

 

What are my landlord’s obligations in regards to repairs?

Your landlord is obligated to make repairs to the rented premises so that it remains in the condition in which it was rented. This does not include damage which was purposeful or due to your negligence. In regards to repairs which are safety and health related, a landlord is obligated to make those repairs within a reasonable amount of time. Be sure to get promised repairs in writing before you move in.

 

What happens if my landlord with not make needed repairs?

If the landlord continuously refuses to make needed repairs, a tenant is authorized to have the needed repairs carried out, and then subtract the cost of those repairs from the next rent. Of note, however, is that a tenant is obligated to ensure that the cost of repairs is reasonable. This method should be used as a last resort. Remember to keep all receipts and sales slips.

 

When I vacate my apartment, must everything be in a perfect state of repair?

No, provided that the damage is minor and can be reasonably be considered part of the ordinary wear and tear upon the premises. For example, nail holes for hanging pictures). Where a tenant makes “improvements” such as wallpapering and painting without the consent of the landlord, the landlord can insist that the tenant remove or correct the “improvements” and restore the premises to its original condition.

A Tenant Ending a Tenancy

I signed a one year lease, but I want to move before the year is finished, what are my obligations?

If you abandon the premises, the landlord could sue you or your guarantors for any unpaid rent for the remainder of the lease. If you do plan to vacate your rental premise, you must give written notice to your landlord, and you should get a written confirmation of an acceptance of this termination. Overall, in order to terminate a tenancy, in most cases you will need to give double your duration payments.

 

How much notice does a tenant have to give if they want to move out?

When a tenant decides to move, they must provide a written notice of termination to the landlord. In most cases, this is a 60 day notice. If the tenant is renting on a fixed-term lease, such as one year, the tenant must give this notice to the landlord at least 60 days before the end of the lease. If the tenant is renting on a month to month basis the notice must be given at least 60 days before the last day of the final month of the tenancy. In the case of a weekly tenancy, the tenant must give the landlord 28 days notice before the last day of the final week of the tenancy. If the tenant pays rent on a daily basis, 28 days is also required.

 

Can a tenant break a lease?

A tenant and landlord may agree to break a lease. It is best for both parties if this agreement is in writing and signed by the landlord and the tenant. IF the landlord is not willing to break the lease, the tenant has the right to assign the lease to a new tenant with the landlord’s consent. If the landlord refuses to allow the tenant to assign the unit, or if the landlord does not respond within 7 days of the tenant’s request to assign, the tenant may end the tenancy with 30 days written notice

A landlord ending a Tenancy

What is the process for a landlord evicting a tenant?

The landlord must serve the tenant with a Notice of eviction, wait the prescribed number of days set out in the notice, and then make an application to the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal. A tenant will always have an opportunity to present arguments against the eviction at a hearing. When a landlord obtains an eviction order, it must be filed with the Sheriff at the Court. Only the Sheriff can evict a tenant.
 

How long does it take to evict a tenant?

This will depend upon the reason claimed in the Notice of Eviction. It can be from 7 days to several weeks.

 

What are some of the reasons that my landlord can evict me?

A tenant may be evicted for two types of reasons, no fault and fault.

No Fault

  • Landlord requires the unit for their own use

  • Demolition, conversion or repair of the rental unit or the residential complex

  • Conversion to a condominium

  • Residential complex is being severed into smaller lots

Fault

  • Non-payment of rent

  • Illegal act

  • Misrepresentation of income in subsidized housing

  • Damage of unit or building

  • Interference with the peaceful enjoyment of the premises by the landlord or others

  • Overcrowding or impaired safety

Can a tenant be evicted if the house is for sale?

A tenant can only be evicted if there is a signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale and the new owner or a member of his immediate family intends to live in the house.

 

Can my landlord evict me if he wants to use the unit for himself?

A tenant can be evicted where a landlord “in good faith” requires the unit for his own use, or for the use of a close family member.
 

Can a tenant be evicted for having a roommate?

No, however, a tenant may be evicted if there is an issue of overcrowding.

 

Can a landlord prohibit me from or evict me for having a pet?

No. A landlord can prohibit or evict a tenant for having an animal in the accommodations only in these circumstances: first, the animal’s past behavior must have caused substantial damage to the premises, or disturbed the landlord or other tenants in their use of the complex in which the accommodations are located, or secondly, the presence of the animal has caused the landlord or other tenants to suffer serious allergic reactions, or thirdly, the animal is of a species or breed that is inherently dangerous to the landlord or other tenants. If none of these circumstances are relevant to your situation you cannot be prohibited from or evicted for having a pet. Any provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.

 

Do I have to pay bills in my name even if my roommates are responsible for them?

Yes. You are responsible for any and all bills which may be in your name because you signed the contract with the company, regardless if you share the rental or not. The best way to recover any money which is owed is to take the roommate to court.

 

What happens if one or more of my roommates leave before the lease expires?

Under most tenancy agreements each person is responsible to the landlord for the whole rent, no matter the private arrangement between roommates. Therefore if one or more roommates leave the remaining tenants must cover for this. As such it is very important that all roommate agreements are thought out and committed to paper.

Safety

Who can I call about potential safety problems in my unit?

When dealing with safety issues, you may call a health inspector, building inspector, the Maintenance and Standards Unit of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (for maintenance or safety problems in areas with no municipal standards), or the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations if there are problems with the building’s elevators.

 

Can a landlord interfere with vital services?

No. A landlord can never shut off or interfere with a tenant’s supply of hydro, fuel (e.g. natural gas, oil) or hot or cold water.

 

Can a landlord enter a tenants’ unit?

A landlord may enter a tenant’s unit under certain circumstances; sometimes notice is required, sometimes it is not.

  • A landlord can enter a tenant’s unit, without notice, in cases of emergency, or if the tenant agrees to it at the time of entry, or if the tenancy agreement states that the landlord will clean the unit at specified times (if times are not specified, this can be done between 8am and 8pm).

  • A landlord can enter a tenant’s unit, without notice, between 8am and 8pm, to show the unit to a prospective tenant if the landlord or tenant has given a notice to termination or if the landlord and tenant have agreed to terminate the tenancy. The landlord must try to inform the tenant that they will be entering the unit.

  • A landlord can enter a tenant’s unit with 24 hours written notice, between 8am to 8 pm, in order to do repairs, to show the unit to a potential buyer, mortgage or insurer, or for any other reasonable purpose that is set out in the tenancy agreement.

 

Can a tenant object if the landlord wants to enter their unit?

If the landlord enters the tenant’s unit in accordance with the law, the tenant cannot object. However, if a landlord enters a tenant’s unit illegally, the tenant may make an application the Tribunal. If the Tribunal finds that the landlord has interfered with the tenant’s reasonable enjoyment of the premises, the Tribunal may order, for example, that the tenant receive an abatement of rent or that the landlord pay a fine. It is up to an adjudicator to decide.

 

Can landlords come to the apartment anytime that they want?

No, the Tenant Protection Act protects the privacy of the tenant. A landlord cannot enter the premises without giving 24 hours written notice of intention to enter the premises. The time, (during daylight hours only, at which the landlord will enter the premises must be specified. Even if the landlord has given notice, there is no absolute right of entry unless granted under the tenancy agreement. The only exceptions are: in case of emergency; to show the premises to a prospective tenant at reasonable hours after you have given your notice of termination; and when the tenant agrees to entry at the time of such entry.

 

Can a tenant change the locks if the landlord enters the unit?

A tenant cannot change the locks without the landlord’s consent.

 

Can a landlord change the locks? If they do, do they have to give the tenant a new key?

A landlord can change the locks as long as they provide the tenant with a replacement key.

 

Can a landlord charge the tenant for the new keys?

A tenant would not have to pay for the new keys where the landlord decides to replace the lock with a new one.

 

Can they charge for replacement keys?

If a tenant loses a set of keys, the landlord can require the tenant to pay the cost of having a replacement set of keys made.

 

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