Landlord and Tenant Act of Ontario

By SamPosner
Landlord and tenant laws are now governed by the Residential Tenancies Act in Ontario.

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The Landlord Tenant Act was replaced in Ontario by the Residential Tenancies Act of 2006. The act exists to balance the rights of tenants and landlords, and protect each from unfair business dealing that can have a severe effect on the place of habitation for the tenant and income for the landlord.

Application

The act applies to mostly any landlord-tenant relationship. The absence of a written agreement will not preclude the application of the act; however, according to the Landlord and Tenant Board of Ontario, having a tenancy agreement (sometimes called a lease), is advisable and will create greater certainty of the relationship and obligations.

The act will not apply if the tenant shares a kitchen or washroom with the landlord or if it is a seasonal rental (such as renting a cottage for two weeks). Some of the act's provisions will not apply if the rental agreement concerns a university residence or public housing.

Tenancy Agreements

A tenancy agreement, whether it exists in writing or not, will typically confirm the amount of rent payable by the tenant to the landlord for the right to occupy a given residential space starting on a specific date. Any prohibition of pets in the agreement, according to Section 14 of the act, is void. If the agreement is not in writing, the landlord must give the tenant notice of its legal name and address within 21 days of the agreement. If it is in writing, the landlord must deliver a signed copy to the tenant within 21 days, ensuring that its legal name and address is properly set out.

Landlord's Responsibilities

Section 20 articulates that a landlord must maintain a residential complex, including a rental property, in a good state of repair fit for habitation and in compliance with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. A landlord may not interfere or withhold vital services such as heat or electricity, which are included as the landlord's responsibilities in the tenancy agreement, and may not harass or interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the tenant. A landlord may change the locks only provided the tenant is given keys. A landlord may not enter a unit without consent unless there is an emergency or in specific circumstances to clean or show the unit to a prospective tenant.

Tenant's Responsibilities

The tenant must keep the unit clean and repair any damage that is caused wilfully or negligently by the tenant or any of the tenant's guests. The tenant may not change locks without the consent of the landlord. The tenant shall not harass or interfere with the duties of the landlord.

Security of Tenure

Notice must be given to terminate a tenancy. Notice or any agreement to terminate a tenancy at the time of, or as a condition of, entering into the tenancy agreement is void. If the term of a tenancy for a fixed period ends without termination or renewal, it will be deemed to continue on a monthly basis under the same terms, subject to an increase in rent, regulated by the act. The landlord may not terminate a tenancy unless the unit is require for habitation by the landlord, its spouse, certain relatives of the landlord specified by the act, or caretakers of any of the above. The tenant may terminate the agreement at any time, giving two months' notice to the landlord.

Other Parts of the Act

The Residential Tenancies Act is approximately 240 sections and attempts to regulate the landlord-tenant relationship in order that both parties can have some amount of confidence or expectations in entering into a tenancy agreement. There are rules relating to rent, governing how, when and why it can be altered. If a vacant unit is being rented, the landlord may try to rent it for whatever price she wishes. Once a unit is occupied, the rules are far stricter. The act also regulates care homes, mobile home parks and land lease communities. The act gives authority to and regulates the Landlord and Tenant Board and its proceedings.

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