This article is to help both landlords and tenants understand their rights and responsibilities when leasing a property in Ontario.
The Landlord and Tenant Board is the legal arm of the Ontario Government and draws power from the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) to deal with complaints and issues between tenants and landlords. The Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) covers a variety of issues common to landlords and tenants. Highlighted below are some of the most frequent issues for both tenants and landlords, along with the legal course of action.
Before diving into this it should be noted that although many of the laws governing the landlord and tenant relationship are straightforward, in reality it’s not so black and white. With such a high demand for for rent in Toronto, tenants could unknowingly participate in illegal practices at the request of a landlord - thus putting other offers from potential tenants at a disadvantage.
If you are running into any issues with your landlord or tenant or have any questions, we highly recommend giving the Landlord and Tenant Board a call, they are the best party to advise you. You can contact them at :
Terminating A Lease
When terminating a lease, you must first determine if the lease is a Fixed Term Tenancy or Periodic Term Tenancy. A fixed term means that the lease has a start date and an end date. At the end date, all fixed term leases automatically become periodic month-to-month leases. A Periodic Tenancy is a tenancy that does not have a fixed term and renews every month or week (depending on whether rent was paid monthly or weekly).
If Fixed, both the landlord and tenant have to provide a 60 day notice prior to the end of the term.
If Periodic, both the landlord and tenant have to provide a 28 day notice prior to the day they would like to end the term.
The RTA states that a landlord can not increase rent by more than the % provided by the Rent Increase Guideline which is calculated by the Ontario Consumer Price Index
120 (1) No landlord may increase the rent charged to a tenant, or to an assignee under section 95, during the term of their tenancy by more than the guideline, except in accordance with section 126 or 127 or an agreement under section 121 or 123. 2006, c. 17, s. 120 (1).
(2) The Minister shall determine the guideline in effect for each calendar year as follows:
1. Subject to the limitation set out in paragraph 2, the guideline for a calendar year is the percentage change from year to year in the Consumer Price Index for Ontario for prices of goods and services as reported monthly by Statistics Canada, averaged over the 12-month period that ends at the end of May of the previous calendar year, rounded to the first decimal point.
2. The guideline for a calendar year shall be not more than 2.5 per cent. 2012, c. 6, s. 1.
Landlord’s duty, rent increases
110 No landlord shall increase the rent charged to a tenant for a rental unit, except in accordance with this Part. 2006, c. 17, s. 110.
Landlord not to charge more than lawful rent
111 (1) No landlord shall charge rent for a rental unit in an amount that is greater than the lawful rent permitted under this Part. 2006, c. 17, s. 111 (1).
119 (1) 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,
(a) since the day of the last rent increase for that tenant in that rental unit, if there has been a previous increase; or
(b) since the day the rental unit was first rented to that tenant, if clause (a) does not apply. 2006, c. 17, s. 119 (1).
As a tenant you may sublease your unit with the consent of the landlord and consent cannot be arbitrarily withheld. The subletter becomes bound to the same terms and clauses as the original tenancy agreement and becomes the one that is liable.
Excerpts from the RTA:
Assignment of tenancy
95 (1) Subject to subsections (2), (3) and (6), and with the consent of the landlord, a tenant may assign a rental unit to another person. 2006, c. 17, s. 95 (1).
(5) A landlord shall not arbitrarily or unreasonably refuse consent to an assignment of a rental unit to a potential assignee under clause (3) (b). 2006, c. 17, s. 95 (5).
(8) If a tenant has assigned a rental unit to another person, the tenancy agreement continues to apply on the same terms and conditions and,
(a) the assignee is liable to the landlord for any breach of the tenant’s obligations and may enforce against the landlord any of the landlord’s obligations under the tenancy agreement or this Act, if the breach or obligation relates to the period after the assignment, whether or not the breach or obligation also related to a period before the assignment;
The RTA states that “a provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void,” therefore any clause in the lease agreement that forbids having a pet is considered void. However, if you live in a condominium and the building (or the corporation) has a by law that has certain pet restrictions, then as a tenant you must abide the bylaws of the condo corp.
Excerpt from the RTA:
“No pet” provisions void
14 A provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void. 2006, c. 17, s. 14.
You might come across a lease agreement that states that the tenant is responsible for the first X amount of dollars in repairs (usually around the first $25 to $50) and the landlord is responsible for any additional cost for the repair. While this might seem somewhat fair, it is not legal. The landlords are responsible for any repairs that are not caused by negligent actions of the tenant. So if the dishwasher or any other appliance abruptly stops working then you should give your landlord a call and have them fix it.
Excerpt from the RTA:
*Landlord’s responsibility to repair
20 (1) 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. 2006, c. 17, s. 20 (1).
(2) Subsection (1) applies even if the tenant was aware of a state of non-repair or a contravention of a standard before entering into the tenancy agreement. 2006, c. 17, s. 20 (2).
However, the tenant is responsible for any damage they cause.
Tenant’s responsibility for repair of damage
34 The tenant is responsible for the repair of undue damage to the rental unit or residential complex caused by the wilful or negligent conduct of the tenant, another occupant of the rental unit or a person permitted in the residential complex by the tenant. 2006, c. 17, s. 34.
It is illegal in Ontario to request a security deposit (Rent Deposit) from the tenant but it is not uncommon to find landlords asking new tenants for security deposits, especially if the tenants are students and/or if the property is furnished. The only legal deposit that can be requested is the key deposit which also cannot be more than the cost of replacing the keys.
Excerpt from the RTA:
Security deposits, limitation
105 (1) The only security deposit that a landlord may collect is a rent deposit collected in accordance with section 106. 2006, c. 17, s. 105 (1).
(2) In this section and in section 106,
“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. 2006, c. 17, s. 105 (2).
Rent deposit may be required
106 (1) 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. 2006, c. 17, s. 106 (1).
Amount of rent deposit
(2) The amount of a rent deposit shall not be more than the lesser of the amount of rent for one rent period and the amount of rent for one month. 2006, c. 17, s. 106 (2).
Post Dated Cheques
As a tenant you are not legally required to provide post dated cheques for payment unless you would like to. It’s common practice when renting in Toronto to provide the landlord or their agent with post dated cheques for all the unpaid months in return for the keys, on the day you are moving in. Again, this is one of those scenarios that is not legal but commonly happens in the industry and not accepting it might just put your offers at a disadvantage. The legal alternative would be providing the landlord the payment every month by way of cheque or other means.
Excerpt from the RTA:
108 Neither a landlord nor a tenancy agreement shall require a tenant or prospective tenant to,
(a) provide post-dated cheques or other negotiable instruments for payment of rent; or
(b) permit automatic debiting of the tenant’s or prospective tenant’s account at a financial institution, automatic charging of a credit card or any other form of automatic payment for the payment of rent. 2006, c. 17, s. 108; 2009, c. 33, Sched. 21, s. 11 (3, 4).
Exemptions from Act
Please keep in mind that the RTA does not apply to all tenants. The following expert from the Act points out the major exemptions.
*5 This Act does not apply with respect to,
(a) living accommodation intended to be provided to the travelling or vacationing public or occupied for a seasonal or temporary period in a hotel, motel or motor hotel, resort, lodge, tourist camp, cottage or cabin establishment, inn, campground, trailer park, tourist home, bed and breakfast vacation establishment or vacation home;
(b) living accommodation whose occupancy is conditional upon the occupant continuing to be employed on a farm, whether or not the accommodation is located on that farm;
(c) living accommodation that is a member unit of a non-profit housing co-operative, except for Part V.1, and except for those provisions in other Parts that are needed to give effect to Part V.1;
(d) living accommodation occupied by a person for penal or correctional purposes;
(e) living accommodation that is subject to the Public Hospitals Act, the Private Hospitals Act, the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, the Ministry of Correctional Services Act or the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017;
Not all agreements are the same but here are some things to keep in mind when reviewing the agreement.
Provisions conflicting with Act void
4 (1) Subject to subsection 12.1 (11) and section 194, a provision in a tenancy agreement that is inconsistent with this Act or the regulations is void. 2006, c. 17, s. 4; 2017, c. 13, s. 1.
At Dwelly, we pride ourselves on our transparency and are always on the right side of the law. That is why we strive to make sure our clients are always informed of their rights and practice them.