Housing and the law
If you’re a current student living off campus, remember that there are laws and regulations for both you and your landlord regarding your tenancy. Please familiarize yourself with the key aspects of the Residential Tenancies Act below and the common mistakes that landlords make.
If you require assistance resolving an issue with your landlord, please contact Brock’s Off-Campus Living Office or The Landlord and Tenant Board.
Residential Tenancies Act
The Residential Tenancies Act sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants who rent residential properties (Landlord and Tenant Board). *Note that this Act does not apply to those living in residence on campus.
The Landlord and Tenant Board has put together a guide that outlines the key aspects of the Act. It is not a complete summary of the law and it is not intended to provide legal advice, however it is a good starting point for information.
If you require more detailed information about the law, please contact the Landlord and Tenant Board:
- Call the Board at 416-645-8080 or toll-free at 1-888-332-3234,
- Visit the Board’s website, or
- Visit your local Landlord and Tenant Board office. A list of Board office locations can be found on our website, or you may call us at the numbers listed above.
Common mistakes landlords make
The list below are common errors made by landlords that can have a negative impact on your stay. Know your rights and contact Brock’s Off-Campus Living Offive or the Landlord and Tenant Board should you experience any of these situations.
This information is relative to accommodations that are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (see above). For more information regarding whether or not your property is covered, please visit the Landlord and Tenant Board website.
- Charging unlawful deposits: A deposit from a new tenant cannot be more than one month’s/week’s rent. This deposit cannot be used for anything but the last payment – not for cleaning or repairing.
- Improperly terminating a tenancy: A landlord can terminate a tenancy only for reasons allowed by the Residential Tenancies Act. A landlord must first tell a tenant in writing when they want the tenant to move out, regardless of the reason, by giving them a Notice to Terminate a Tenancy. Reasons allowed by the act include:
- not paying the rent in full,
- often paying the rent late,
- illegal activity,
- affecting the safety of others,
- disturbing the enjoyment of other tenants or the landlord,
- allowing too many people to live in the rental unit (“overcrowding”),
- not reporting income in subsidized housing
A tenant must tell their landlord in writing if they plan to move out, by giving a Tenant’s Notice to Terminate the tenancy. The last day the tenant plans to occupy the unit is called the termination date.
A daily or weekly tenant must give at least 28 days’ notice while a monthly tenant must give at least 60 days’ notice.
- Renewing a lease: a lease can be renewed (or a new lease made) if both parties agree. If a new agreement is not reached, the tenant may stay on a month to month or week to week basis, in which case the former lease rules will still apply.
- Inappropriate entry:
- A landlord can enter a unit without written notice if:
- there is an emergency, like a fire,
- the tenant allows the landlord in, or
- A landlord can enter a unit without written notice if:
- a care home tenant agreed in writing to let the landlord do “bed checks.”
- A landlord can enter a rental unit without written notice, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. if:
- the rental agreement requires the landlord to clean the unit – unless the agreement allows different hours for cleaning,
- a notice of termination has been given by either the landlord or tenant, or there is an agreement to terminate the tenancy, and the landlord wants to show the unit to a potential new tenant
- A landlord can enter between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and only if 24 hours written notice is given to the tenant:
- to make repairs or do work in the unit,
- to allow a potential purchaser, insurer or lender to view the unit,
- to allow an inspection by an engineer or architect or similar professional for a proposed conversion under the Condominium Act;
- for any reasonable purpose allowed by the rental agreement
- Not supplying tenants with a copy of the tenancy agreement: After a written agreement has been signed by both parties, a copy must be supplied to the tenant 21 days after the completion of the document. (Residential Tenancies Act, Part ii, section 8, sub section 2)
- Violating human rights in tenant selection: It is illegal for a landlord, superintendent, property manager, or anyone acting in place of a landlord to harass or discriminate against a tenant or prospective tenant. For more detailed information visit our Human Rights and housing section.
- Unlawful rent increases: In most cases, the rent can be increased if at least 12 months have passed since a tenant first moved in or since the tenant’s last rent increase. A landlord must give at least 90 days’ notice in writing of any rent increase. A landlord can propose a rent increase that does not exceed the “rent increase guideline” or one that is “above the guideline.”
- The rent increase guideline is set each year by the Ontario Government, and announced by August 31. The figure applies to rent increases that start on or after January 1 of the following year.
- A tenant can agree to an increase above the guideline if the landlord will do major renovations or repairs, buy new equipment, or add a new service for the tenant. This agreement must be in writing, on a form obtained from the Board.
- A tenant has five days after signing an agreement, to change their mind and tell their landlord in writing they do not agree to the increase.
- Requiring post-dated checks from tenants: A landlord can tell a new tenant how the rent must be paid – by cash, cheque or money order.
- Post-dated cheques can be suggested, but a person cannot be denied a rental unit refusing to give them.
- Not supplying rent receipts to tenants: A landlord must supply a receipt for any rent payment, deposit, or other charge, if the tenant asks for one. The landlord cannot charge any fee for giving a receipt.
- Not allowing tenants to sublet:
- Assignment of tenancy
- A tenant may be able to transfer their tenancy (their right to occupy the rental unit) to another person. This is called an assignment. In an assignment, a new tenant takes the place of the first tenant. However, all terms of the rental agreement stay the same, as if there was no change in the tenant.
- A tenant must have the landlord’s approval for an assignment. If the landlord will not approve it, or fails to reply within seven days to the tenant’s request for approval, the current tenant can terminate their tenancy by giving a notice of termination to the landlord.
- Assignment of tenancy
- A landlord must have a good reason for refusing an assignment to a particular person suggested by the tenant. If a landlord approves an assignment, they can charge the current tenant for the landlord’s reasonable and out of pocket expenses caused by the assignment.
- A sublet is where a tenant with a fixed term lease moves out of the rental unit, lets another person live in it for a period of time, but returns to live in the unit before the lease ends. In a sublet, the lease, and the landlord to tenant relationship, remain in effect.
- The tenant must continue to pay rent, and comply with all other tenant duties. The tenant also becomes a landlord, to the subtenant, and must comply with all landlord duties.
- Not allowing tenants to keep pets: It is unlawful for a landlord to prohibit a tenant from having a pet. That said, a landlord may evict a tenant for keeping an animal if it:
- caused undue damage,
- caused a serious allergic reaction in another person or the landlord,
- interfered with the normal enjoyment of the property by another tenant or the landlord, for example, causing undue noise,
- acted aggressively to others – thus affecting their safety, or
- is a species or breed of animal that is inherently dangerous
Free legal Clinic
BUSU offers a free legal clinic to students on the last Wednesday of every month. For more information and/or to book your appointment, please visit: http://www.busu.net/services/student-services/student-legal-clinic/