As Toronto is in the middle of a housing crisis, it is important that all tenants understand their rights and the resources that are available to them.
Most people living in rental housing in Ontario are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) – a big exception is people in student residencies or other institutional settings. The RTA is the law that governs landlord and tenant relations and it sets out both your rights and your obligations as a tenant. The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) settles disputes between property owners and tenants. There are plenty of sources for what you need to know as a tenant, including the LTB, the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations and Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation .
Co-Ops are social housing where members of the co-operative (co-op) corporation own the building. Members elect from amongst themselves a board of directors who are responsible for overseeing the management of the building. There is generally a mix of rent-geared-to-income and market rent units within the building. Co-ops are subject to rules in the Co-operative Corporations Act and are not considered to be landlords and therefore are not subject to the Residential Tenancies Act.
The City of Toronto has limited jurisdiction over the operations of Co-operative Housing. For most matters, please consult the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto.
Landlord-Tenant issues are overseen by the provincial government. MPP Suze Morrison would be the representative for Toronto-Centre and may be able to provide more resources.
Suze Morrison – MPP for Toronto Centre
329 Parliament St. Toronto, ON M5A 2Z3
1. Tenant Rights & Responsibilities at a Glance
As a tenant, you have rights to protect you and it is important to be aware of them. Below is an overview of some:
You are covered by the RTA even if you do not have a lease or tenancy agreement. If your lease expires, you do not have to renew it, you automatically become a month-to-month tenant.
When you are new to a private market rental, the rent can be set by the landlord wherever the market puts it. Once the tenancy starts, RTA rules around rent are in effect.
- Landlords can only raise the rent once every 12 months. Unless there are significant repairs or renovations involved, they can only raise the rent by the legislated guideline amount. In 2018, it will be 1.8 percent of the existing rent.
- To raise rent above the guideline, landlords need to give written notice at least 90 days ahead of time and make a case before the LTB, and you can have input to the matter.
You are entitled to your privacy. Landlords must have a valid reason to enter your unit.
You cannot be evicted simply for having a roommate. (However, if the roommate is causing problems for other tenants and/or damaging the property, or there is overcrowding, there could be cause for a notice of termination and an application to evict you and everyone in the unit.)
You cannot be evicted for having a pet (unless the pet is dangerous, making too much noise, damaging the unit, or causing others to have allergic reactions).
If your landlord is responsible for heating your home, you are entitled to a comfortable 21 degrees Celsius minimum from September 15 to May 31.
The landlord cannot change your locks or tell you to leave. Only the Sheriff can evict you. But before that happens, the landlord must provide a notice terminating the tenancy giving the reasons. Landlords must then apply to the LTB for an order to evict you. There will be a hearing and you have a right to attend and present your facts.
As a tenant, you and your landlord enter into an agreement and while the RTA protects your rights as a tenant, you must also abide by a set of guidelines. Below is an overview on some of those guidelines:
If you are asked by a prospective landlord to provide information about your income, credit references and rental history when you apply for a rental, you are obliged to do so. However, nothing gives a landlord the right to refuse anyone because of receipt of public assistance, race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, or handicap.
Pay first month’s rent when you move in. Your landlord can also ask for last month’s rent at this time—but no more than that. Payment for that last month’s rent has to be used to cover last month’s rent. It is not a damage deposit.
If a key deposit is required, it can only cover the replacement cost of the key.
Pay your agreed-upon rent on the agreed-upon time.
If you are unhappy with your landlord’s maintenance record (and it is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the unit in a good state of repair), you are not entitled to withhold the rent. Withholding rent payments could give the landlord a valid reason for a notice of termination for non-payment of rent, leading to an application with the LTB to evict you.
You are responsible for keeping the unit clean. You are also obliged to repair or pay for any damage that you caused or that was caused by your guest or other person living in your unit.
If your landlord has a valid reason to enter your unit and has provided this reason in writing 24 hours in advance, you have to let him enter.
If you change your locks, immediately, you must give the landlord a key.
If you want to sublet or assign your unit, you must have your landlord’s consent.
If your landlord needs your unit for his personal use or for that of a family member or caregiver, you may have to leave your home.
2. Tenant Supports
Apartment Building Standards is a bylaw enforcement program that ensures apartment building owners comply with building maintenance standards. The program applies to apartment buildings with three or more storeys and 10 or more units.
Residents are encouraged to contact their landlord first to make service requests for issues such as pests, low or no heat, plumbing problems, leaky ceilings or problems in common areas of the building.
If you get no action from your landlord and problems persist, you can contact 311 for the RentSafeTO team.
Landlord and Tenants Board
The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) resolves disputes between residential landlords and tenants and eviction applications filed by non-profit housing co-operatives.
The LTB provides information about its practices and procedures and the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act.
To speak to a representative toll-free call: 1-888-332-3234
Toronto Area: 416-645-8080
TTY: Call the Bell Relay Service at 1-800-855-0511
Federation of Metro Tenants Association
The Tenant Hotline is a free telephone counselling service for tenants in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Hotline is operated by the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations. Our Hotline Counsellors offer information about tenants' rights to any tenant who calls. They cannot provide legal advice but can direct you the appropriate resources based on your situation.
The Federation of Metro Tenants Association (FMTA) hotline has a zero-tolerance for harassing or abusive behaviour. Calls involving harassment or abuse of hotline workers will be terminated immediately. We provide information about what the law says and referrals, not legal advice.
To speak to a counsellor call: 416-921-9494
You may have to leave a message but they respond within 24 hours to all inquiries.
CERA (Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation)
CERA defends housing rights and human rights by educating individuals and communities and providing legal information and services to marginalized Ontarians. Again, they cannot provide legal advice but they can direct you to the appropriate resources based on your situation.
To connect with Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation please call 416.944.0087 ext. 1 or [email protected]