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Landlord and Tenant Disputes

Ontario’s new Residential Tenancies Act came into effect on January 31, 2007. The Act sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants who rent residential properties.                                                                                  

Landlords and tenants of most rental units are covered by most of the rules in the Act. A rental unit can be an apartment, a house, or a room in a rooming or boarding house. The Act also applies to care homes, retirement homes, and sites in a mobile home park or land lease community.

The Landlord and Tenant Board (the Board) resolves disputes between tenants and landlords. It is similar to a court. Either a landlord or a tenant can apply to the Board. Their disputes can be worked out through mediation or adjudication.

About tenancy agreements

The landlord and tenant can sign a written agreement when a new tenancy is entered into, or they can have an oral agreement. A tenancy agreement is often called a lease. Then landlord must give the tenant a copy of any written lease.

The lease should not contain any terms that are inconsistent with the Act. If the lease does contain a term that is inconsistent with the Act, that term will not be enforced by the Board.

Rent for a new tenant

When a new tenancy is entered into, the landlord and tenant decide how much the rent will be for a rental unit and which services will be include in the rent (for example, parking, cable, heat, electricity).

In most cases, the rent cannot be increased until at least 12 months after the tenant moved in.

Rent deposits

A landlord can collect a rent deposit from a new tenant on or before the start of a new tenancy. Where the tenant pays rent by the month, the deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent; where the tenant pays rent by the week, the deposit cannot be more than one week’s rent.

The rent deposit can only be used as the rent payment for the last month or week before the tenant moves out. It cannot be used for anything else, such as repairing damage to the rental unit.

Post-dated cheques and automatic payments

When a landlord and a new tenant agree to enter into a rental agreement, they usually discuss how the rent will be paid.

Although the landlord and tenant can agree that the rent will be paid by post-dated cheques or automatic payments (such as debits from a tenant’s account or by credit card), a landlord cannot require the tenant to pay by either of those methods.

Rent receipts

A landlord must give the tenant a receipt for any rent payment, rent deposit or other charge, if the tenant asks for one.

A landlord must also give a former tenant a receipt if that person asks for one within 12 months after the end of their tenancy.

Rent increase above the guideline

A landlord can apply to the Board for an increase above the guideline if:

  • The landlord’s costs for municipal taxes and charges, and/or utilities (such as fuel, electricity or water) have increased significantly, or
  • The landlord has done major repairs or renovations (these are called capital expenditures), or
  • The landlord has operating costs for security services performed by persons who are not employees of the landlord.

When the rent should be reduced

A landlord is required to reduce the rent in some circumstance, such as the utility costs go down after the landlord has increased the tenant’s rent by more than guideline based on an order from the Board that approved the increase based on utility costs.

A tenant can apply to the Board to have their rent reduced in some circumstance, such as the municipal taxes or charges on the rental property go down.

A landlord’s responsibilities

A landlord has to keep the rental property in good state of repair. A landlord must obey all health, safety, housing and maintenance standards, as set out in any provincial laws or municipal bylaws.

This is true even if the tenant was aware of the problems when they agreed to rent the unit.

A tenant’s responsibilities

A tenant must keep their rental unit clean, up to the standard that most people would consider ordinary or normal cleanliness.

A tenant must repair or pay for the repair of any damage to the rental property caused by the tenant, the tenant’s guest or another person who lives in the rental unit. This includes damage in the tenant’s unit, as well as any common area such as a hallway, elevator, stairway, driveway or parking area.

Vital services

A landlord cannot shut off or interfere with the supply of any of the following vital services to a tenant’s rental unit:

  • heat (from September 1st to June 15th)
  • electricity
  • fuel (such as natural gas or oil)
  • hot or cold water

Entry without written notice

A landlord can enter a tenant’s rental unit without written notice if:

  • there is an emergency such as a fire,
  • the tenant agrees to let the landlord in,
  • a care home tenant has agreed in writing that landlord can come in to check on their condition at regular intervals.

Entry with 24 hours written notice

A landlord can enter the rental unit between 8 a.m. and 8p.m, and only if they have given the tenant 24 hours written notice.

For more information, please contact All Win Immigration and Legal Services.