Renting In Ontario: What You Need to Know

With today’s real estate market proving increasingly difficult to access, particularly for first time buyers, renting an apartment or house has become the only affordable solution for those who simply don’t have the financial resources to own a home.

And with more and more people looking towards renting, it’s important to know exactly what your rights and responsibilities are as a tenant, particularly nowadays when the competition for a relatively clean, reasonably priced, decently maintained apartment is, for lack of a better word, ferocious.

A Brief Overview of Tenant Rights

With the exception of certain institutional settings and student residences, if you are living in rental housing in the province of Ontario you are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) – the RTA is the law that governs tenant/landlord relations, and sets out your rights and obligations as a tenant, while any disputes between landlords/property owners and their tenants are settled (ideally) by the LTB – Landlord and Tenant Board.

The RTA isn’t exclusively for those who have a current lease or tenancy agreement – anyone is eligible to be covered by the RTA, even those who aren’t actively renting or leasing. In addition, this coverage extends even after your existing rental agreement expires – tenants automatically become month-to-month renters, rather than being forced to renew their current agreement.

The landlord is entitled to set the rent according to the rates of the current marketplace. However, once an agreement is signed, there are rules that come into effect which the landlord and tenant are both obligated to observe;

– landlords are only entitled to raise the rent once every 12 months; and unless there are considerable repairs, renovations or upgrades being performed, the landlord may only raise the rent by a legislated amount, which in 2018 is no more than 1.8 percent of the existing rent. If a landlord intends to raise the rent by more than the legislated amount, they must first provide written notice a full 90 days prior to the date of any intended increase. In addition, the landlord/property owner must also make their case to increase rent above the legislated amount to the LTB (Landlord & Tenant Board), while any tenant who faces the proposition of such an increase can attend all relevant hearings and provide input relating to how an increase might impact them.,

All tenants have a reasonable right to and/or expectation of privacy within their rental property. Landlords cannot, contrary to what many of them might say or believe, come and go as they please; landlords/property owners must have a valid, legitimate reason to enter a tenants’ rental unit, as determined by the LTB.

The Facts and Fiction About Eviction

Some landlords/property owners will try to enforce their own set of rules based on personal preferences and/or prejudices, but in truth it is the LTB that determines which reasons are valid when it comes to matters such as eviction. Some examples include:

A tenant can’t be evicted for simply having a roommate. If the roommate in question is causing problems, such as damaging property, creating an unsafe situation due to overcrowding, or harassing other tenants, the landlord could apply for a notice of termination and potentially even an application to evict everyone in the apartment.

When it comes to the matter of pets and what is or isn’t permissible, there is often a great deal of misinformation about confusion, since many landlords and property owners consider household pets an unwelcome and potentially costly nuisance. However they may feel about a tenants pets, unless there is clear evidence that the animal is dangerous to the other tenants, or is responsible for moderate to severe allergic reactions, a landlord or property owner cannot threaten or enforce eviction. Any attempt to do so is considered unlawful and can result in potential legal action or other possible consequences.

These are just a few of the many important issues that you’ll want to review if you’re planning to rent in the near future. Arming yourself with the best, most up-to-date information is always the best way to ensure your experience as a tenant is as enjoyable and stress-free as possible!