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Tenant's issues
 

Tenant’s Issues : (source : Landlord and Tenant Board and Community Legal Education Ontario) 

The law may change at any time. The information and answers to the questions below contain general information and are not a substitute for getting legal advice for your particular situation. For free legal advice, contact us at 613-632-1136 or 1-800-250-9220.

The clinic assists tenants only. If you are a landlord, you can contact the Landlord and Tenant Board at 1-888-332-3234 or the Landlord Self-Help Centre at 1-800-730-3218.

The clinic gives legal advice to tenants on a variety of subjects, such as:

  • Eviction;
  • Maintenance and Repairs;
  • Harassment;
  • Moving out;
  • Rent increases;
  • Problems concerning the Social Housing Reform Act;
  • etc

The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) became law in Ontario on January 31, 2007. It replaced the Tenant Protection Act which had been in effect since 1998. The RTA gives residential tenants and landlords specific rights and responsibilities. The RTA applies to most rental housing in Ontario, such as rooms, apartments, houses, mobile home parks, and retirement homes.

But some rental housing is not covered by the RTA. For example, you might not be covered if you live in a place that is supposed to be used for business, share a kitchen or bathroom with the owner or a close family member of the owner or live in some types of temporary or seasonal housing.

Also, the RTA does not cover some types of shared living. If you share your unit  or you rent from another tenant, you should contact us to find out if you are covered.

If your housing is not covered by the RTA, the information below does not apply to you. Please contact us for free legal advice regardless of if the RTA applies to you or not. 

What is the Landlord and Tenant Board?

The Landlord and Tenant Board is the name of the tribunal that settles disputes between landlords and tenants and enforces their rights. It is like a court, but less formal.

You can apply to the Board and ask the Board to make an order if your landlord is not following the rules set out in the RTA, for example, not doing repairs or maintenance, or not respecting your rights. Landlords can also apply to the Board, for example, if they think a tenant owes rent or caused damage.

When you apply to the Board, the Board will schedule a hearing. At the hearing, you and your landlord can each present your case to a member of the Board. After the hearing, the Board member will make an order saying what you and your landlord must do.

You can get copies of the Landlord and Tenant Board forms on their web site at www.ltb.gov.on.ca

Does a landlord have to give rent receipts?

Yes, if a tenant asks for them.  The RTA requires a landlord to provide rent receipts, free of charge, to a tenant when the tenant asks for them. A tenant can ask for a receipt for any payment or deposit the tenant gives to the landlord, including a payment for rent arrears.  It is an offence for a landlord to fail to provide a rent receipt when one is requested by a tenant.

This rule also applies to a former tenant – The landlord must provide a former tenant with receipts if they request it, as long as the former tenant makes their request within one year of the date they moved out.

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.

Can a landlord charge me a deposit 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.

The rent deposit must be used for the rent for the last month before the tenancy ends.  It cannot be used for anything else, such as to pay for damages.

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

Yes, the landlord must pay the tenant interest on the rent deposit every 12 months.  The amount of interest that a landlord must pay is the same as the rent increase guideline that is in effect when the interest payment is due.  The guideline is set each year by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Can the landlord charge me a damage deposit?

No.  A landlord cannot collect a damage deposit that they would use if there is damage done to the unit. Also, a landlord cannot use the last month’s rent deposit to cover damages in the unit. 

How and when can the landlord increase my rent?

There are 3 main rules your landlord must follow to raise your rent:

12 months apart: After you move in, your landlord must wait at least 12 months before raising your rent. And any increases after that also must be at least 12 months apart.

90 days’ written notice: Your landlord must give you a written notice at least 90 days before your rent goes up. To do this, your landlord should use one of the notice forms from the Landlord and Tenant Board. If your landlord does not use a Board form, the notice must include all the information that is on the Board form.

Guideline amount: By the end of August each year, the provincial government announces the guideline for rent increases for the next calendar year. Your landlord has the right to raise your rent by this amount.  

To raise your rent by more than the guideline, your landlord must apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for permission. You can oppose this application at the Board.

If you live in rent‑geared‑to‑income or subsidized housing, these rules about rent increases do not apply to you. Please contact us for more information.

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 RTA requires the landlord to keep the heat to at least 20 degrees Celsius from September 1 to June 15.  In addition, many municipalities have their own property standards or bylaws about heat.  You should contact your local municipal government to find out if your community has a bylaw that sets minimum standards for heat. 

What should I do if repairs are needed to the building or unit?

You should first talk to the landlord and let the landlord know what the problems are.  You should also put all the problems in writing and give this to the landlord or the person that takes care of these problems (e.g. the superintendent or property manager).

If your landlord does not respond to your letter in a reasonable time, or refuses to do the repair, you can contact your municipal government and ask for an inspection. If there are no municipal inspectors or property standards by-laws where you live, call the province’s Investigation and Enforcement Unit at 1‑888‑772‑9277. The Unit’s web site address is www.mah.gov.on.ca/ieu.

If these steps do not work, you can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board. You must apply to the Board within one year after the problem happened. If the Board agrees that your landlord has not done enough to fix the problem, the Board can order an “abatement” of rent. This means that your landlord must pay you back part of the rent you paid while the problem existed. The Board can order that your rent will stay at the lower amount until the problem is fixed. The Board can also order your landlord to make repairs, to repay money to you if you had to pay for repairs, or to make other payments to you.

Can the landlord enter my unit?

Yes, your landlord can enter your unit without notice if there is an emergency or if you allow him to enter.

However, when a tenant has given a notice that he will be moving out of the unit, the landlord can enter the unit without giving prior written notice, to show potential tenants the unit. But, the landlord can enter the unit only between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. by informing the tenant of his intention to enter or by making reasonable efforts to inform the tenant.

In all other circumstances, the landlord must give you 24 hours written notice indicating when he will be entering the unit and why. The landlord can only enter your unit between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and he must have a valid reason. For more information, contact us.

Can the landlord evict me for having a pet?

A tenant can be evicted for having a pet in their unit only if :

  • the pet is making too much noise, damaging the unit, or causing an allergic reaction, or;
  • the animal or species is considered to be inherently dangerous. 

Even if the tenancy agreement has a ‘no pets’ rule in it, the tenant cannot be evicted just for having a pet unless the Board decides in an order that the pet is causing a problem, or that the pet is inherently dangerous.

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

If you want to move out, usually you must give written notice to your landlord. The Landlord and Tenant Board has a form for this called Form N9 – Tenant’s Notice to Terminate the Tenancy. 

Your notice must give the date you want your tenancy to end. This is called the “termination date”. Most of the time, the termination date must be the last day of a rental period. Usually that is the day before your rent is due.

You must give the notice to your landlord a certain number of days before the termination date. If you pay your rent by the day or the week, you must give at least 28 days’ notice. 

If you pay your rent by the month, you must give at least 60 days’ notice.

If you have a tenancy agreement that is for a fixed period of time, for example, a one-year lease, you must give at least 60 days’ notice and the termination date cannot be before the last day of the lease. 

If you leave without giving proper notice, you might have to pay rent for some of the time after you move out. But your landlord must also try to find a new tenant to take over as soon as possible. You are not responsible for rent after a new tenant moves in.

If you want to move out because your landlord is not following the law or your tenancy agreement, you can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to let you move out early. For example, you could do this if your landlord will not repair something or is harassing you. Usually you have to prove that the problem is serious, and that you have given your landlord a reasonable chance to correct it.

My landlord wants to evict me. Do I have to move out?

To evict a tenant, a landlord must follow the steps set out in the RTA. It is against the law for your landlord to evict you or lock you out without first getting an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board. Call us for more information on evictions.  

Don’t hesitate to call us for free legal advice concerning your rental unit. 

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