What are my rights as a tenant?

If you're moving out for the first time and trying to make it in the "real" world, you're probably very excited. You're also probably a little nervous about how you should go about it. 

As a tenant, it's important to know what you owe your landlord, and what they owe you back. If you know your rights, you'll feel more confident when you approach your landlord about issues that come up.

Who makes the rules?

The relationship between tenants and landlords is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). The RTA is the law that sets the rules for rent increases, evictions, repairs and many other issues. 

If you have an issue with your landlord and you think they're violating the RTA in some way, you can make a complaint to the Landlord and Tenant Board. The Board is like a court, but less formal. For example, if your landlord is refusing to do necessary repairs to your apartment, you can the issue to the Board.

Your landlord can also apply to the Board if you do something wrong, like cause damage or refuse to pay rent.

When you make a complaint to the Board, they'll schedule a hearing where you and your landlord can each present your case. After hearing each side of the story, the Board will make a ruling and resolve the dispute.

What should I know before I move in?

Before you pack your bags, make sure you know what you're entitled to. 

Discrimination

Your landlord has to treat you with respect and fairness. It's illegal for them to discriminate against you because:

  • of your race, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, colour, nationality, religion or the country you were born in;
  • you have disability;
  • you receive social assistance; or
  • you have children living with you.

It can be hard to figure out if you're being discriminated against. Some ways a landlord can be discriminating is if they:

  • refuse to rent to a tenant because you don't have a credit rating
  • refuse to put in a ramp for a tenant who uses a wheelchair
  • try to enforce strict rules about noise that are harder for people with children to follow

If you think you're being treated unfairly, you can make a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by calling 416-326-1312 or 1-866-598-0322.

Tenancy agreements

Once you're ready to settle into a new place, you must have a tenancy agreement (a lease or a rental agreement) with your landlord. A tenancy agreement outlines everything from how much rent you owe to what to do when you're ready to move out. Starting April 30, 2018, all landlord and property management companies must use a standard lease when renting out their property to a tenant. 

Your landlord also has to give you a brochure from the Landlord and Tenant Board called Information for New Tenants. The brochure tells you more about your rights and responsibilities.

Rent and other charges

Finally, in addition to rent, your landlord can ask you to put down a security deposit, or ask you to pay for certain utilities and services. Learn about what you owe by reading our article on what your landlord can (and can't) ask you to pay for

What are my rights while I'm renting?

While you're living in your place, you're entitled to live peacefully and safely. Here are somethings you shouldn't be afraid to ask for.

Repairs and maintenance

Your landlord must keep your place in good condition. They're responsible for making sure that appliances are in working order, and that common areas (like parking lots, elevators and hallways) are clean and safe. 

If you have a maintenance or a repair problem, follow these steps in order:

  1. Write a letter to your landlord to let them know of the issue. Make sure to keep a copy of the letter for yourself.
  2. If your landlord refuses to do the repair or doesn't respond, contact your municipal government and ask for an inspection. 
  3. If the issue persists, make a complaint to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Privacy

The place you're renting is your home, so your landlord has to respect your privacy.

Your landlord must give you a 24 notice in writing before coming by, and they can only come between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. 

The only exceptions are:

  • If you're moving out and your landlord needs to show your place to a new tenant. They must make a reasonable effort to let you know when they'll be coming, and it must be between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • If there's an emergency.
  • If your rental agreement says that your landlord gives you cleaning services.

Harassment

It's illegal for your landlord to harass you. Harassment can be hard to prove, so try to keep a record of your interactions with your landlord.

Harassment can look like:

  • cutting off important services, like heat and electricity
  • knocking on your door or calling you at unreasonable times
  • taking your property because you owe rent
  • entering your home without proper notice
  • changing your locks without giving you a key
  • making sexual advances
  • trying to stop you from being active in a tenants' association
  • threatening you

If you're being harassed, you can:

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