Renting in Ontario: Your Rights & Responsibilities
Understanding your rights and responsibilities as either a renter or landlord is crucial to ensuring a smooth and fair rental experience. Ontario has established laws and regulations to protect both residential tenants and landlords. In this article, we'll delve into some key aspects of renting in Ontario, so you can navigate the rental landscape with confidence.
One of the fundamental aspects of tenant-landlord relationships is eviction. Your landlord can only evict you in specific situations and must follow a strict process outlined by the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), an independent tribunal with the authority to resolve residential tenancy disputes in Ontario. To start the eviction process, your landlord must provide you with written notice using the proper form provided by the LTB. This notice must state the reason for eviction.
Crucially, receiving written notice doesn't mean you have to move out immediately. Your landlord must apply for and receive an eviction order from the LTB, and you have the right to attend a hearing to explain why you should not be evicted. For more detailed information on eviction rules, refer to the LTB's brochures: How a Landlord Can End a Tenancy and How a Tenant Can End Their Tenancy.
Protection against Wrongful Evictions
New rules under the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020, and existing rules under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, are in place to ensure that tenants' rights are protected. Under these laws, the maximum fines for offenses under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, have been doubled, potentially reaching up to $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for corporations.
Eviction for Personal Use: If your landlord needs to reclaim your unit for personal use, they must provide you with compensation equal to one month's rent or offer you another unit.
Renovictions: In cases where eviction is necessary due to renovation, repair, or demolition, landlords must also compensate you. They are obligated to give you the right of first refusal to return to the unit after renovations. Under the new rules, if your landlord fails to provide this option, you have up to two years to file a claim with the Landlord and Tenant Board for compensation.
Bad Faith Evictions: Landlords are now required to act in good faith when evicting tenants for reasons that are not the tenant's fault. This means landlords must have honest intentions for the purpose stated on the eviction notice. The LTB has the authority to determine whether an eviction order should be issued and whether a landlord acted in bad faith.
The Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020 encourages landlords to negotiate repayment agreements with tenants before seeking eviction for unpaid rent, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a landlord applies for an eviction order due to rent arrears, the Landlord and Tenant Board must consider whether the landlord attempted to work with the tenant to catch up on rent.
Formal Repayment Agreement: Landlords and tenants may settle eviction applications by reaching a formal repayment agreement approved by the LTB.
Informal Repayment Agreement: If you are struggling to meet an informal repayment agreement, your landlord must still apply to the LTB for an eviction hearing. You can explain your circumstances at the hearing, and the LTB will determine whether an eviction order should be issued.
It's important to note that landlords cannot impose repayment agreements on tenants, and tenants cannot be evicted for refusing a rent repayment plan. Harassment or threats from landlords to force eviction are considered offenses under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.
Mediation can be a valuable tool for resolving disputes between tenants and landlords in a less formal and intimidating setting compared to a traditional hearing. Under the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020, the Landlord and Tenant Board may require parties to attend a mediation session to discuss their concerns before a formal hearing. While reaching an agreement is not mandatory in mediation, it can lead to quicker resolutions.
For most new residential tenancy agreements signed on or after March 1, 2021, landlords in Ontario are required to use the updated standard lease template. This standard lease is designed to be easy to understand and includes essential information such as rent amount and due dates, included amenities, and rules or terms about the rental unit or building. It also outlines renter and landlord rights and responsibilities.
The standard lease does not apply to certain types of rentals, such as care homes, mobile home parks, and social and supportive housing.
If you are entitled to a standard lease but haven't received one, you can request it from your landlord in writing. They must provide it within 21 calendar days. If they fail to do so, you can withhold one month's rent. After 30 calendar days without receiving the standard lease, you can continue withholding the rent or take advantage of special rules that allow you to end your fixed-term lease early.
Who's Protected by Rental Rules
Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act applies to most private residential rental units, including those in single and semi-detached houses, apartments, condominiums, and secondary units like basement apartments. However, it does not apply to university and college residences or commercial properties.
Rent Increase Limits
The rent increase guideline for 2024 is 2.5%. In most cases, your rent cannot increase by more than this guideline each year. This applies to most tenants, including those in houses, apartments, condos, care homes, mobile homes, and land lease communities. However, there are exceptions and specific rules governing rent increase guidelines.
Where to Get Help
If you have questions or need assistance related to rental issues, the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) is your primary resource. They can provide information about your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006. You can contact the LTB online or by telephone at 1-888-332-3234 during business hours.
Additionally, the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit can help landlords and tenants resolve disagreements related to offences under the Residential Tenancies Act.
For legal advice, consider reaching out to community legal aid clinics, which offer free or low-cost information, legal advice, and representation. You can find a clinic in your area by contacting Legal Aid Ontario's Client Service Centre at 1-800-668-8258 or searching their online directory.
Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or landlord in Ontario is essential for a fair and harmonious rental experience. Familiarize yourself with these key aspects of rental laws, seek assistance when needed, and stay informed about updates in rental regulations to protect your interests in the dynamic rental market of Ontario.
- Rentboard's Blog: Resources For Both Renters and Landlords
- LTB: Landlord & Tenant Board
- Renting In Ontario: Your Rights