Understand your rights as a tenant in Toronto

Understand your rights as a tenant in Toronto

Understand your rights as a tenant in Toronto

For many newcomers, finding housing is one of the most important tasks they must complete before or after arriving in Toronto. At Next Stop Toronto, we’d advise you to start looking at housing before you arrive!

Finding safe and comfortable accommodation for you and your family includes being aware of your rights as a tenant. People who wish to settle in Ontario, the province of Toronto, have legal rights to protection from discrimination and unlawful eviction of property.

These rights protect against rent increases and ensure you live in a home that is safe and in good condition.

Here’s what you need to know when finding a place you’ll be happy with.

What documents do I need to rent in Ontario?

If you want to rent a house, apartment, or other type of housing in Ontario, you typically need to submit certain documents as part of the application process.

These documents support your financial information and rental history.

Below is a list of common documents you will need to submit as part of your rental application:

  • Letter of Employment: A letter from your employer stating your years of service at your current job and your annual salary.
  • Pay Stub: In addition to your employment letter, you may be asked to provide a copy of your current pay stub as proof of income.
  • Bank Statement: If you are self-employed or looking for regular employment, you may be asked to provide a copy of your current bank statement in lieu of a pay stub or proof of employment. This is a way to show potential landlords that you have enough money to pay the rent.
  • References: As with any application, it is expected that you will be asked for references from trusted friends and managers to prove your character and trustworthiness as a tenant. These references must be based in Canada.
  • Credit Report: A complete credit report is often requested as part of a rental application. A credit report is a summary of your credit history and is given a three-digit number. A higher number indicates better economic health. A complete credit report will cost approximately $25 CAD and will also show your debts and bankruptcies.

Tip Icon Tip: It takes a newcomer at least a few weeks to a month to get a Canadian credit card for the first time, and several more months of credit transactions to build a credit history. EQUIFAX and TransUnion are the two largest credit-scoring organizations in Canada, and you can choose either organization to get your credit report.

Find out more information about renting without a credit history in Canada, check out our guide blogs. For example, for tips on how to prove your credibility as a renter and where to focus your search, see How to Rent an Apartment in Canada without a Credit History or Employment Verification.

Ontario eviction regulations

The Government of Ontario has regulations in place to protect both tenants and landlords from unlawful evictions. A landlord must act in good faith when evicting a tenant for reasons beyond the tenant’s control.

Your landlord can only evict you in certain circumstances and must first send you an eviction notice form provided by the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). Even if you receive an eviction notice from your landlord, you have the right to attend a hearing and explain why you should not be evicted.

Common reasons for eviction in Ontario include:

  • Personal Use: If your landlord wishes to refuse to evict you in order to occupy your accommodation for himself or for his next of kin’s use, he is legally entitled to do so. However, from now on, they will have to pay one month’s rent as compensation or be offered another place to live if space is available. Because the landlord, buyer, or family needs the rental unit, the landlord must complete their N12: Rental Termination Notice.
  • Selling Real Estate: If the landlord wants to sell the property, he can evict you and the person buying the property will use the property himself. In this case, the landlord must also pay one month’s rent as compensation or provide alternative accommodation if available.
  • Renovations: If your landlord wants to make major renovations, repairs, or demolition of the property, they can legally evict you for that reason. However, you are legally required to provide at least 120 days’ notice of termination in the case of a fixed-term rental agreement, or by the end of the rental period if there is no fixed-term rental agreement. Landlords who wish to demolish, repair, or convert a rental unit to another use must complete an N13: Rental Termination Notice. Depending on the reason the landlord files the N13 form, they will either have to provide you with another rental unit or pay you the compensation stipulated in the LTB.
  • Non-Payment of Rent: You may be evicted for non-payment of rent. In this case, the landlord may issue an N4: notice to terminate the tenancy early for non-payment of rent. Landlords must give at least 14 days’ notice to tenants on monthly or annual leases and at least 7 days’ notice to tenants on weekly tenancies. You will then be given a notice period to repay any unpaid rent. If not, the landlord can apply to her LTB for an eviction order based on this notice. Please note that if your landlord files an eviction application with her LTB, you may be required to pay any unpaid rent and filing fees to her LTB on behalf of your landlord.
  • Eviction for Just Cause: A rental contract may also be terminated due to breach of contract. The grounds for just cause eviction are as follows:
  1. You or your guests are causing an unreasonable nuisance to other tenants or the landlord.
  2. You or your guest are engaging in illegal activity.
  3. Causing significant property damage and not being repaired within a reasonable time.
  4. Use of property for non-residential purposes that may cause damage to the property.
  5. Overcrowded or overcrowded living space.
  6. Lied about my income on my rental application.

Note: A landlord can deliver a 20-day eviction notice in the event of negligence or property damage. A landlord can deliver a 10-day eviction notice if you or your visitors participate in unlawful activities on the premises (for example, selling drugs or other illicit substances).

Your responsibilities as a tenant

Just like tenants in Ontario, landlords do have a responsibility to their tenants, but you also have a responsibility to your landlord:

  1. Pay your rent on time and in full.
  2. If you experience a major problem that requires repair, please contact your landlord as soon as possible.
  3. Allow service personnel to enter the premises with at least 24 hours notice so that repairs can be made or the landlord can show the premises to prospective tenants or buyers.
  4. Keep the rental property clean, removing snow and mowing the lawn. Repair any damage you or your guests may have caused.

A standard lease in Ontario is a contract between a landlord and a tenant. It is referred to as a Residential Tenancy Agreement (RTA) and is designed to ensure everyone has the right to equal treatment in housing without being discriminated against or harassed.

What clauses are included in a Toronto rental lease

The following clauses can be included in a lease as the law in Ontario leaves these conditions up to you and your landlord to decide on. They include:

  • Rental discounts and deposits: Landlords may agree to rental discounts for a period of time and agree with tenants whether and how much a rental deposit is required. Note: Ontario generally requires a rental deposit equal to one month’s rent, but the rental deposit cannot be used as a damage deposit on the rental unit. The rental deposit is the only deposit that a landlord can legally require, other than a key deposit. In Ontario, it is illegal to demand money as compensation or use last month’s rent as a security deposit to pay compensation.
  • Services and Utilities: This clause allows landlords and tenants to agree on who is responsible for which utilities, such as electricity, heat, water, and equipment rental services.
  • Smoking: Ontario law prohibits smoking in indoor common areas of buildings (such as common hallways). This section allows you and your landlord to agree on rules regarding smoking, including cannabis, within the rental property.
  • Lease Term: The length and duration of the tenancy period, including the date you move into the rental unit and whether it is a recurring or monthly tenancy.
  • Tenant Insurance: This section allows you and your landlord to agree whether liability insurance is required. You may also be required to show proof of insurance if requested by your landlord.

Tip: We recommend that you purchase renters insurance to protect your belongings, living expenses such as moving expenses, and claims for accidental damage. Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive, costing about $25 CAD per month.

Ontario has rental increase limitations

The Government of Ontario provides guidelines for rent increases calculated using the Ontario Consumer Price Index. Therefore, that amount fluctuates every year, and in 2020 it was set at 2.2%. This means that if your rent is CAD 2,000, your landlord can increase your rent by 2.2% to CAD 2,044 after 12 months.

A landlord legally can raise the rent every 12 months, and he must give at least 90 days’ written notice to increase the rent.

Lease clauses that cannot be inserted or modified

The RTA is fair to all parties and aims to protect the human rights of tenants. The following clauses may not be included in a rental agreement: Rental Unit Modifications: This clause refers to permitted rental unit modifications. For example, the right to install decorative items such as paintings or window coverings.

However, any other changes must be made with the consent of the landlord. An example would be painting a wall. Items in this section cannot be changed.

  • Subletting: Section 14 requires a tenant to obtain the landlord’s permission to sublet a unit or part of the property, such as a guest room, to another person, and the landlord may not arbitrarily or unreasonably withhold consent.
  • Pets: Landlords cannot include a clause in the rental agreement that disallows pets. The exception is when landlords and tenants must follow condominium rules that prohibit pets, such as dogs.
  • Guests: A landlord may not include a clause prohibiting a tenant from accepting additional residents such as guests, roommates, or family members.
  • Additional Deposits or Fees: A landlord may not require a tenant to provide additional deposits or fees other than those provided in the Residential Tenancies Act. This includes pet deposits, damages, and interest on unpaid rent.
  • Payment of Repairs: A landlord has no right to require a tenant to pay all or any portion of repairs for which the landlord is responsible. This includes things that the landlord is legally responsible for, such as heating, plumbing, electrical, and repairs to appliances that are part of the rental unit, such as the stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator.

Where to get help

If you have questions or concerns about renting in Ontario, you can contact the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for advice. Their customer service office is available Monday through Friday.

They provide information about the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) but cannot provide legal advice. Call 416-645-8080 or toll-free 1-888-332-3234.

Alternatively, if you’re an Ontario tenant looking for an informal place to seek advice, you can join the Ontario Tenant Rights group on Facebook.

Or if you need legal advice, contact a real estate professional through our contact form on the Next Step Toronto homepage. They can hear your case and represent you in court if needed