The landlord and tenant act of Ontario is legally recognized by its official title, the Residential Tenancies Act of 2006. This legislation details the legal rights of tenants and landlords and establishes legal housing standards including payment and collection of rent, anti-discriminatory practices and eviction proceedings. The Residential Tenancies Act works in tandem with the Ontario Human Rights Code, which defines business practices and rights that landlords have when selecting tenants.
Ontario Human Rights Code
In business, including the business of renting to tenants, the Ontario Human Rights Code ensures equal opportunities and rights to everyone without fear of harassment, reprisal or discrimination. This provincial law conveys these human rights to tenants while holding landlords accountable to uphold the details of this code. Landlords cannot discriminate against tenants based on race, gender, gender identity/expression, marital status, place of origin or sexual orientation.
Residential Tenancies Act: Eligible Properties
The Residential Tenancies Act protects tenants who live in most rental units such as those in private residences including single-dwelling homes as well as semi-detached homes, apartments (including basement apartments) and secondary units. Rentals excluded from the Residential Tenancies Act include commercial properties and college and university residences.
Tenant laws for renting a room in Ontario typically follow the same guidelines as those for other tenants, regardless of whether the tenant exclusively rents a room or shares a room with someone else. Different rules apply when the tenant shares a bathroom or kitchen with the property owner or the owner’s immediate family members.
Landlord Rights Ontario
The Ontario Human Rights Code gives landlords the right to gather certain information about prospective tenants before making the decision to rent to them. This includes income information, credit references, credit checks and rental history. Landlords have the right to collect a rent deposit before tenants move in. The maximum deposit equals the amount of rent for one rental period; for example, the amount of one month’s rent if the tenant pays monthly or one week’s rent if the tenant pays weekly.
Landlords have the right to enter a rental unit in an emergency, to perform maintenance or repair work, or to show the rental to a prospective tenant. Unless it’s an emergency, in which case a landlord may enter a rental without giving notice, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing 24 hours before entering, and the landlord can only enter between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Read More: What Are a Landlord's Rights If There Is No Signed Rental Agreement?
Tenant Rights Ontario
Tenants have a commitment to abide by the terms of their leases, which includes giving a 60-day written notice of their intents to vacate the rental. If a tenant wants to terminate her lease early, the landlord must agree to release her from the lease agreement. Part VI of the Residential Tenancies Act walks tenants through how to assign or sublet their rental if a landlord does not agree to an early release from the rental agreement.
“No pets clauses” in leases are illegal in Canada. This means that a landlord cannot force a tenant to move or get rid of a pet unless the animal is dangerous or causes allergic reactions or other problems for other tenants. Even if a tenant signs a “no pet” clause in a lease, the landlord cannot force the tenant to move out or get rid of the pet unless he can prove that the pet is dangerous or problematic.
Landlords are responsible for routine maintenance and repairs to rental units. If a landlord does not make necessary repairs, a tenant must send the landlord a written notice requesting the repair. If the landlord still refuses, the tenant should call the city building inspector and request an inspection of the property to assess the need for a repair. If this does not prompt the landlord to make a needed repair, the tenant should call the Investigation and Enforcement Unit.
- Government of Ontario: Residential Tenancies Act, 2006
- Settlement.org: What are My Rights as a Landlord?
- CFIB: Ontario Human Rights Code - Frequently Asked Questions
- Government of Ontario: Renting in Ontario - Your Rights
- LegalLine.ca: Do Tenants Have Rights if They Only Rent a Room?
- Settlement.org: Can My Landlord Enter My Home?
- Ontario Tenants: Most Asked Questions and Answers
Victoria Lee Blackstone was formerly with Freddie Mac’s mortgage acquisition department, where she funded multi-million-dollar loan pools for primary lending institutions, worked on a mortgage fraud task force and wrote the convertible ARM section of the company’s policies and procedures manual. Currently, Blackstone is a professional writer with expertise in the fields of mortgage, finance, budgeting, tax and law. She is the author of more than 2,000 published works for newspapers, magazines, online publications and individual clients.