Ontario Landlord-Tenant Laws Summary
What are good practices or requirements of a landlord before the start of a new tenancy?
Landlords should start by screening their tenant, and investigating all applicants' rental history, income, credit, and criminal background. These various background checks must be performed in accordance with Ontario’s Human Rights Code. In Ontario, landlords must provide new tenants with the prescribed form, Ontario Information for New Tenants, on or before the tenancy begins. This outlines the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant.
What and who is the “Board” and how do I contact them?
The Board is the Ontario’s Landlord-Tenant Board. The Board administers and enforces Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act. Landlord’s may contact the board at:
From within the Toronto area- 416-645-8080
From outside the Toronto area- 1-888-332-3234
Offices may be visited at any one of the local or regional offices. A list of these locations are provided at the Ontario Landlord Tenant Board’s website.
Is a written lease required?
While the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act allows landlords and tenants to have an oral agreement in most circumstances, a written Ontario-Specific Lease Agreement is reccommended for both compliance and enforceability.
When can a landlord enter the rental unit?
The landlord must give 24 hours written notice, stating why and when they will be entering the unit. This does not apply if there is an emergency.
What can a landlord do if the tenant pays the rent late?
The Landlord can serve a tenant with an Ontario Notice to Terminate for Rent Default. This form notifies the tenant that they will be evicted if the rent is not paid by the termination date. Landlords may not charge a late rent fee.
What fees may or may not be charged?
The landlord may assess a returned cheque fee that is no more than $20.00. As mentioned above, landlords may not charge a late rent fee. The collection of a key deposits or similar deposits whether they are refundable or not, including any penalties, premiums or commissions is prohibited according to Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, Section 134.1.
Are damage deposits allowed in Ontario?
A damage deposit is not permitted, however the landlord can collect a rent deposit of up to one month's rent (unless the tenant pays rent weekly – in this case the rent deposit can be no more than one week's rent). The rent deposit must be given to the landlord before or on the date the tenancy starts. Rent deposits may not be used for damages or anything other than the last month's rent at the end of tenancy.
Please note: If a tenant damages the rental property, the landlord can serve them with a notice to vacate and/or charge them for the damages that were caused. If the tenant refuses to pay for damages, the landlord can contact the Board to remedy the situation.
When are rent increases allowed?
The rent may be increased every 12 months. Landlords must wait until their tenant has occupied the rental unit for at least 12 months before increasing the rental amount. Ontario’s allowable rent increase rate varies each year and is posted on the Ontario’s Landlord Tenant Board website.
Are rent receipts required?
A landlord must always provide a receipt to a tenant upon the tenant’s request. This also includes receipts to former tenants, as long as that tenant makes the request within one year of moving. Failing to provide a receipt to a tenant after the tenant makes this request is considered an offense of the landlord, by Ontario’s Landlord-Tenant Board.
What can a tenant do to end tenancy?
The tenant may not just abandon the apartment – they must agree with the landlord to end the lease agreement early, otherwise the tenant must give the landlord written notice that they will be vacating at the end of the lease term. If the landlord and tenant agree to end the lease term early it may be an oral agreement, but it is recommended to have a written Mutual Termination of Lease Tenancy.
When and why may a landlord evict a tenant?
Landlords can evict if the tenant damages the leased premises or fails to pay rent or violates the lease or the act. When a landlord finds the need to evict, a tenant must be served written eviction notice first, sometimes with a chance to remedy the situation. However, if a tenant, their occupants or guests are involved in illegal activity, or causes damage to the premises, a landlord may serve an eviction notice to terminate the tenancy without giving the tenant a chance to remediate or fix the issue. A landlord must be cautioned however, that proper procedures must be followed; it is not permitted for a landlord to change locks or simply remove the tenants' property without following the rules in the Act.
Is the landlord or tenant responsible for maintaining the rental unit?
The landlord is responsible for maintaining the rental unit and keeping it in a habitable state. If the landlord states that the tenant is responsible for maintaining the rental unit in the lease agreement, it is void. It is recommended that both tenant and landlord conduct an inspection and use a written condition report of the rental unit at the beginning of tenancy, but it is not required. The tenant is responsible for keeping the premises in a clean and sanitary state. The tenant is responsible for repairing any damage the tenant, occupant, or guest permitted on premises may have caused.
When is the landlord responsible to provide heat?
The Ontario RTA requires that if a landlord provides the heat, it must stay at least 20 degrees Celsius between September 1st and June 15th. Additionally, the local municipal government may be contacted to check for any local heat laws or regulations.
What should a landlord do if their tenant has abandoned the rental unit?
The landlord will need to make a reasonable amount of attempts at contacting the tenant, provided no notice of leave was given. If the landlord believes the tenant abandoned the premises, they can apply to the Board for an order terminating the tenancy. If the landlord does not contact the board, and re-rents the property without the board confirming the property to be abandoned, the tenant can take legal action.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein is intended simply as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is NOT legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.