Residential Tenancies Law in Ontario

John Dickie and David Lyman for The Lawyers Weekly

Hire an Ontario Lawyer to Outline your Rights as a Residential Tenant

If you are renting a residence in Ontario, you are protected by residential tenancies law. These residential tenancies laws focus on supplying adequate shelter for all Ontario residences. Ontario residential laws are formed around the understanding that shelter is a basic human right; therefore it is Ontario’s obligation to ensure you are given adequate living conditions. Basically, these residential tenancies laws are functioned to balance the rights of landlords and tenants.

The above mentioned laws are found under the Tenant Protection Act (TPA) which legislates rules regarding the amount of rent permitted, security of tenure, eviction proceedings, and maintenance obligations.

An Ontario real estate lawyer will ensure that you are protected under residential tenancies law. Our free online lawyer directory and referral service will help you find the most qualified Ontario real estate lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.

Ontario Real Estate Lawyers will Ensure that You are Paying a Fair Amount of Rent According to Residential Tenancies Law

Rent is the most important factor when considering tenancy and you must speak with an Ontario real estate lawyer to discuss how much you should pay, or how you will make payments. Landlords in Ontario can request post-dated cheques, but the TPA stipulates that this method is not mandatory. The tenant has the right to use other methods of payment, like direct deposit. The landlord must also pay 6% interest on the deposit annually. Upon a tenant's request, landlords in Ontario must also provide rent receipts free of charge. The TPA regulates how much rent can be increased or decreased. Rent cannot be increased for the first 12 months of a tenancy. If given 90 days written notice, a landlord in Ontario may generally increase the rent by the guideline amount.

An Ontario real estate lawyer can make sure you are protected by residential tenancies laws. Read John Dickie and David Lyma’s article to learn more about Ontario residential tenancies laws.

The provision of rental housing is linked with social issues that revolve around the supply and adequacy of shelter - a basic necessity of human existence. The law of residential tenancies in Ontario aims to balance these public interests with the rights of private sector landlords to enter into contractual relationships of their choice.

In Ontario, the Tenant Protection Act (the "TPA") governs the relationship between landlords and tenants. The TPA legislates on a wide range of areas of concern for landlords and tenants including rules on the amount of rent permitted to be charged, the tenancy agreement, eviction proceedings, security of tenure, entry and maintenance obligations.

Most disputes between Ontario residential landlords and tenants are brought before the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal (the "ORHT"), a specialized tribunal. Its aim is to conduct hearings and release orders in a timely and more easily understandable manner than could be provided by the courts.

Most rental units in Ontario are covered under the TPA, including apartments, rooming houses and houses. There are some types of units in Ontario that are fully exempt from the TPA (e.g. where the occupant has to share a kitchen or bathroom with the owner), some that are partially exempt from rules regarding rent increases (e.g. public housing, new construction) and some that have special rules (e.g. mobile homes, care homes).

Rent is one of the key considerations for any tenancy. Landlords in Ontario are free to request the method by which rent is paid. Post-dated cheques are a common and convenient payment option, though tenants in Ontario cannot be refused a tenancy based on their refusal to pay by this method. The TPA permits landlords to insist on a last month's rent deposit. Landlords in Ontario may only use the deposit for payment of the last month's rent; they cannot use it for cleaning, repairs, or other similar expenses. The landlord is required to pay 6% interest on the deposit annually. Upon a tenant's request, landlords in Ontario must also provide rent receipts free of charge.

The TPA sets out a number of rules regarding how rent may charged and collected, as well as when, and by how much, rent can be increased or decreased. In most cases, rent cannot be increased for the first 12 months of a tenancy. After this period, and upon 90 days written notice, a landlord in Ontario may generally increase the rent by the guideline amount. The guideline is set annually on a Province-wide basis, and applies to rent increases any month of the following year. In theory the guideline represents the average increase in landlords' costs.

A landlord in Ontario may also apply to the ORHT if they wish to increase rents above the guideline amount if municipal taxes and/or utility costs have increased significantly, the landlord has done major renovations or repairs, or the landlord has added security services. Tenants in Ontario may apply for a reduction in rent in various circumstances, such as a decrease in municipal taxes to the property, or a reduction or removal of a service.

The TPA also sets out other obligations of landlords and tenants in Ontario. In addition to paying their rent, tenants are to keep their units clean, are responsible for any damage they cause or a guest causes, and are to behave in an appropriate manner with the landlord and other tenants. If the tenant fails to meet their obligations, the landlord can apply to evict the tenant and/or to seek compensation for any damage to the unit or building.

Landlords in Ontario are to keep the property in a good state of repair, comply with all health, safety and maintenance standards, and must not interfere with the tenant's reasonable enjoyment of the premises. If the landlord fails to meet their obligations, the tenant can apply for an abatement of rent, an order terminating the tenancy, an order compensating them for damages, and/or requiring the landlord to do specified repairs.

In order to carry out repairs or to show the unit to a potential purchaser, landlords in Ontario can enter the unit between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and must give 24 hours written notice. Landlords may only enter without written notice in limited circumstances, such as cases of emergency, when the tenant allows the entry, or if a care home tenant agreed in writing to let the landlord carry out "bed checks".

Another area that the TPA sets rules for is the termination of tenancies. The Act provides that when a lease ends and a new agreement is not reached, the tenant has the right to continue the tenancy on a month-to-month basis (or week-to-week if that is how often the rent was paid) after which the tenant can terminate on two months notice. The TPA restricts a landlord from terminating tenancies unless it is for specified "fault" grounds (for example, a non-payment of rent, or interfering with the landlord or other tenants' safety or enjoyment) or specified "no fault" grounds (for example, the landlord requiring the unit for themselves or their child to live in, or to carry out major repairs).

The laws which govern residential tenancies in Ontario are constantly changing, and it is not unusual for new governments to amend the legislation substantially. Major changes to the TPA are expected in early 2006.

The information provided is legal information only related to the law as it stands in May 2005. It is not legal advice, and is provided without any warranty of any kind and at the sole risk of the user.

John Dickie, and David Lyman, practices law at Dickie & Lyman, Lawyers LLP in Ottawa.

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