This is a guide based upon the Tenant Protection Act, 1997, (TPA,) Statutes of Ontario, which is the Tenant and Landlord law presently governing these matters and the regulations of the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal (ORHT).
The information contained herein is provided without prejudice to help you the tenants (regardless of your background or immigration status in Ontario and Canada) have some of your most pressing questions on residencial, Tenancy and housing answered as quickly as possible. You are advised to seek legal advice before taking any action. There are free legal clinics in your area available to you. Go to external links in the menue in this website to access some very informative resources to help you. You can also read about your rights in this website: See the "Tenant Protection Act".
RIGHTS ARE YOUR PRIVILEGE. MANY BEFORE YOU MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR
YOU TO HAVE THOSE RIGHTS. IF YOU CHOSE TO WALK AWAY AND DO NOT STAND UP AND
FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS, YOU WILL LOSE THEM AND YOU WILL BE A PART OF THE PROBLEM.
MOST IMPORTANTLY YOUR CHILDREN ALSO WOULD BE ONE DAY FACING THE SAME PROBLEMS
AS YOU DID.
Click on the Question of interest in this table for a quick access or scroll down to get there
WHEN THE TENANT IS A NEWCOMER, A LANDED IMMIGRANT OR A REFUGEE CLAIMANT IN CANADA
LEAVING MY APARTMENT :
COURT REPRESENTATION :
ABOUT THE MEMBER OF THE COURT AT THE ORHT
ORGANIZING : THE SET UP OF A TENANT ASSOCIATION FOR YOUR BUILDING
PETS OR "NO PETS CLAUSES" :
REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE :
MEDIATION IN THE COURT
A1 - Yes, Absolutely Yes. The Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal regulated by the Tenant Protection Act is totally separate from Immigration and Citizenship and the Refugee Board of Canada. One has nothing to do with the other. However it is fair warning to you to watch out. There are landlords who prey on you to take advantage of your ignorance of the Law to steal away your last saving by asking you to pay your yearly rent in advance; and the fact that some of you are coming from countries that violated your human rights and the fact that you are fearful of the authorities make it easier for them to try to intimidate you in order to get away from their obligation to make repairs in your apartment (house). Unfortunately this is becoming common practice. The Landlord is breaking the Law and will keep doing it until you file a formal complaint against him with the Housing Tribunal. We are all equal in front of the Law in Canada. No one is above the law. In a time of bigotry, the law remains your best friend. You have nothing to fear if you did not break the law. see this article
A2 - Absolutely No. He has no right to interfere. He will be trying to intimidate you if he tells you he is capable of preventing you from getting your residency status in Canada. If he tries to use your personal information to blackmail you for whatever reason, he is breaking the law. He can be prosecuted for doing so. The privacy law does not allow him or her to misuse your personal information.
A1: There are many advantages to creating a tenants' association in your building as well as to being part of a larger area association, such as the High Park Tenants' Association, North Toronto Tenants' Network or the Parkdale Tenants' Association.
By having people involved in your building, you can share information such as stories about people being illegally evicted or having to pay illegal fees. This can give you advance notice before it happens to you and to prepare you and your fellow tenants to fight it. Also, if you are in conflict with the landlord, it feels better to be talking to others going through the same thing.
There is some safety in numbers. The landlord is less likely to try to do something improper if the landlord knows there is a tenants' association in that building that is monitoring what they are doing, and will work as a group to fight them.
To have any rights you must first know what your rights are and then to stand up for those rights. It is a lot easier for tenants as a group to get information on their rights and share it, than for each individual to try to get that information separately.
Smaller "building" tenants' associations usually meet in members' apartments, and larger ones can meet in common areas of the building with the landlord's permission, or book a room in a nearby location such as a library or community centre. Any number of tenants can work together to form an association. In large highrises, you will likely want to have elections to vote for an "executive" (ie. A President, secretary, etc.).
Your area tenants' association or OCAP should assist you in getting any information you need on your rights and in organizing your building. (You may also get some information from the governments' Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal at 1-888-332-3234.) You will likely want to join that association and discuss getting their assistance. If your problem is an urgent one you will want to contact a Community Legal Clinic immediately, and then contact the area association for support.
It is your legal right to be a member of a tenants' association and to organize one in your building. The landlord can face a fine of up to $10,000 under the Tenant Protection Act Section 206(4)(iii) if they harass you for being a member of an association, or interfere with you trying to organize one.
A4 : Technically, you do not have to keep any records, but it is extremely important that you do keep all records. Keep copies of: your lease, of any cancelled rent cheques and bank statements and any notices given to you by the landlord. If there is any future dispute between you and the landlord it will be your word against their's, so it is extremely important to save all these documents as long as possible.
A5 : It depends on what type of tenant you are.
If the original lease you signed has not expired, check the date. It is probably for a term of one year and you have a commitment towards that lease. Talk to your landlord and if they will agree to early termination of the lease get it in writing, including the date you will be leaving and make sure the landlord and you both sign the document. If your landlord will not agree to any early termination of your lease, call your lawyer or your Legal Clinic (see my Tenant Resources in Ontario list). The tenant is obliged to give the landlord 60 days minimum written notice of their intentions to leave.
If you never had a lease, or if your original lease expired and you have continued to live in the apartment without signing another one, and you pay your rent on a monthly basis, you have a month-to-month tenancy. You must still give at lease 60 days written notice before the end of the last month you intend to live there.
If you give your notice late, you will be responsible for an extra month.
There are two exceptions to this 60 day rule for monthly tenancies, and those are for terminations which are to be effective on either the last day of February or March. For terminations of a tenancy for the last day of February, the notice must be given no later than the preceding January 1. For a termination effective March 31, the notice must be given no later than Feb. 1.
Tenants who rent on a week-to-week basis need only give 28 days notice.
A6 : It appears under Section 140 of the Tenant Protection Act that it is illegal to be charged a fee for terminating a lease. If you have signed a lease for a specific period (such as your first year,) and you want to terminate it before the its official (legal) end, you may wish to pay a reasonable fee if requested by the landlord to gain their cooperation, but make sure you get the agreement that you will no longer be responsible for the rent after the agreed upon date in writing first.
In the past, reasonable fees have been generally accepted as being $50 or less.
A7 : Before entering your apartment (or your house) the landlord or their employee must give you 24 hours written notice giving a reason as well as a time (the time must be between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.). The landlord must have a good reason to come in, such as to make necessary repairs.
Under the Harris governments' new Tenant "Protection" Act, no notice is necessary in cases of emergencies, or in cases where a notice to terminate the lease (by either the tenant or landlord) has been given, or an agreement to terminate has been made.
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A8 : Only if the pet is dangerous, causes allergic reactions or causes problems for other tenants or the landlord, must you get rid of your pet or consider moving elsewhere.
Even if you signed a lease with a "no pets" clause, if the pet is not a problem for anybody they can not enforce it; such clauses are invalid under the law.
You do not have to move or get rid of the pet unless the Tribunal issues a written order to do so.
A9 : The temperatures are set under municipal bylaws. If you are not the cause for the cold temperatures, such as by keeping your windows open, or setting a thermostat to a lower temperature, then the landlord has a responsibility to maintain a minimum temperature as set by the municipality/city you live in. If the landlord is not meeting the minimums, you can complain to the city's Building and Inspections department or your city councillor.
Information for some cities and towns are :
In Barrie it
is 20C (68F) year round under their bylaw #84-200
Belleville is 21C (70F) from September 15 to May 31 under they bylaw 2000-45
Brampton is 20C (68F) from September 15 to June 1. Brampton Heat Bylaw
Cornwall is 21C by day and 16C by night, from Oct. 1 to April 30, with no definition of day or night, under Section 2.35, Heating System, of the Property Standards By-law. If these requirements are not being met you may call for a Property Standards Inspector (613) 930-2787.
Guelph is 21C (70F). If it isn't warm enough call the Building Dept. Property Standards at (519) 837-5615
Hamilton is now 20C (68F) from September 1 to May 31, (which was lowered from the previous 22C level,) under 2004 bylaw 04-091.
Kingston is 21.1C (70F) from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and 18.8C (66F) the rest of the day from September 15 to June 1,
Kitchener is 21C (70F) year round under their bylaws for Property Maintenance, chapter 640.
London is 20C (68F) from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and 18C (65F) the rest of the day from September 15 to June 15, under the City of London, Vital Services By-law PH-6, section 3.4
In Mississauga it is 20C (68F) from September 15 to June 1. Mississauga Heat Bylaw 365-95
In Niagara Falls it is 21C (70F) from September 15 to May 31 under By-Law 98-50.
In North Bay it is 21C (70F) year round. North Bay' adequate heat bylaw 193-81 in Adobe PDF Format.
Oakville is 21C (70F). If it is not warm enough call the Halton Environmental Health office at (905) 825-6000.
Oshawa is 20C (68F) from September 15 to June 15.
Ottawa is 20C (68F) from 6:00 a.m. to 11 p.m., and 16.7C (62F) from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., year round, under (Old City of) Ottawa By-law #201-89. If your apartment is too cold in Ottawa, the number to call is (613) 580-2400.
Peterborough is 21C (70F) from September 15 to May 31 Property Standards - 599 Adequate Heat in Rental Accommodations (Adobe PDF document)
Richmond Hill is 20C (68F) year round.
Sarnia is 21C by day and 18C by night (from 11:01p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) under bylaw 16 of 1994.
Sault Ste. Marie under bylaw 3627 is 20C (68F) year round.
St. Catharines is 20C from September 15 to May 31 under By-law #66-48 "A By-law to require adequate heat for rented dwelling accomocadation" from 1966 and amended in 1983
Sudbury is 21C (70F) year round, under By-law #2001-200.
Thunder Bay it is 21C (70F) year round. Property Maintenance - Chapter 831 Heat in Rented Dwellings a 730k Adobe PDF file
Timmins is 21C (70F) year round under Section 2.7 of the Maintenance and Occupancy By-Law 98-5118.
Waterloo is 21C (70F) under the Heating Systems section of the Property Standards By-law 94-16 If there is not sufficient heat you can call Standards enforcement at (519) 747-8557, or contact your City Councillor.
Windsor is 21.11C (70F) from September 15 to June 15 under by-law 1152.
If you need to contact your city/town or your city councillor about this you can find their web page at my Government home pages
In Toronto the
temperature must be a minimum of 21C (70 Fahrenheit) from September 15 to June
1 according to Chapter 497-2 of the Toronto Municipal Code under bylaw 499-2000
Heating - Rented Accommodations - Minimum Temperature. The numbers to
call are: 338-0338 (Access Toronto)
East York 416-397-4590
North York 416-395-7000
Etobicoke and York 416-394-8002
(Source: City of Toronto, Telephone Directory, January 2004, Directory of Services, page 291)
A10 : If the landlord does not make repairs on your verbal request, or has a history of not making repairs, put your request in writing, including the date of the letter, and keep a copy.
If the landlord still hasn't done the repairs in a reasonable time, for serious maintenance issues you may want to call your city Building Inspector to make an appointment for them to come out and look at the problem. If the inspector won't come then ask to speak to their supervisor. Get a copy of the inspectors report to save for your records. See "Apartment Standard" at the external link of the menu of this website.
You can get the problem solved quickly by simply filing a claim against your landlord with the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal of your location. Remember your rent is the sum of several services provided by your landlord. When you pay your rent you are paying for all those services. Nothing is free. Some landlord would like to make you believe that the hydro is free (sales trick). That is not true for it is included already in your rent. When your landlord is collecting rent without fixing the maintenance issues in your living space, he is get money for services he has not provided in another word, he is scaming you from your money. That's why for any negligence in maintenance by your landlord, you deserve to get some money back. And filing a claim to the Tribunal against your landlord is the only way to get compensated. Do not let your landlord get away with negligence for he will no longer take you seriously.
Contact your lawyer or Legal Clinic for advice, but before and most importantly read all about your rights first in this website to prevent either your lawyer or the tribunal from taking you for granted. You may apply for a rent reduction or abatement on the basis of lack of repair in your apartment.
A11 : Yes, you can. It is not mandatory to hire a lawyer if you read and understand the Tenant Protection Act in this website. If you are comfortable speaking in public, you can even represent yourself in court in order to save money. Remember the lawyer is not the deciding person in court matters. The judge or the member of the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal is. The lawyer is supposedly knowledgeable of all procedures of the law and knows how to interprete the law that's why he can represent you if you need it. (Read about the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal(ORHT) in the "Tenant Protection Act" to understand procedures in the Tribunal so you can feel comfortable representing yourself). When your read the "Tenant Protection Act", you will find that the procedures are not as formal as the regular court. The judge is not a real judge. He is called "the Member" and can also be a member of your community without a legal background. However all procedures are carried on as in a regular court of law and orders can be reinforced by the sheriff as in regular court. This set up has been made to accomodate everybody in the community so that allow fairness for all.
A12 : Yes it is. The Mediation is encouraged by the member of the Court before even calling the cases. It is organized so that the Landlord and Tenant can reach an amicable agreement to settle their differences without a court order. There are mediators appointed by the court present in the Tribunal to assist in the mediation process. The Landlord and Tenant have the right to refuse such mediation and go ahead with the hearing in order to get a court order if either of them feel uncomfortable doing so. Don't forget that the purpose of the mediation is to find an amicable compromise to settle the case and prevent an eviction order or any order requested by either parties.
A13 : Very often the mediation in the Tribunal happens in the case of Application by the landlord to terminate a tenancy. The interest of the landlord in this mediation is to keep the tenant while making sure the arrears are paid according to a payment arrangement. Consequently, you the tenant can avoid eviction and retain your apartment. The general understanding here is that the Mediation prevents the eviction order. The terms of the mediation must be written and signed the same day by the landlord and the tenant with the mediator as a witness. Do not leave the court without a written agreement on the terms of the mediation. If the landlord demand an order from the court make sure that the order contains the terms of the mediation if not the mediation will make no sens at all and most importantly the Landlord gets full control of the situation on your detriment and this is not something you want. If the landlord insists on getting a standard eviction order while agreeing on the mediation, it is a legal trap; Do not accept it. Do not allow your landlord to get it both ways because of your ignorance of the law. You might as well take your chances with the hearing and prepare your defense. For your defense feel free to bring up any maintenance issues that the landlord did not attend to. Don't forget you have rights too. And if the landlord is found negligent in any case the arrears may be reduced or annulled depending on the level of negligence found and the landlord may not get the eviction order he or she requested. If you wish to file an application against the landlord for lack of maintenance, you may ask for an adjournment in order to prepare your case while denying owing arrears to the landlord. Don't forget that the landlord and his or her lawyer will use any tricks in the book to deny your claim. Experience has shown that the landlord will never admit to any claim of negligence by the tenant for their own defense, so level the playing field by using their own strategies. Don't ever allow your landlord to think that he or she is better than you or over powering you in any way. Don't forget you are a client and must be treated with respect by any service provider. Your landlord is not doing you any favors. He or she is selling a service that you the client is paying for. It's that simple. If you allow your landlord to abuse you, he or she will not stop and most likely the landlord will end up saving money on maintenance cost on your detriment. You are a client, you are paying for a service and the rent is a sum of several services. When you pay for a service that has not been provided, you deserve to get your money back. Don't let your landlord scam you out of your money.
A14 : The Member or adjudicator act as a sitting juge to preside over cases brought to the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal by by either the Tenant or the Landlord or both at once. The Member adjudicate all applications filed in the Tribunal. For more information regarding the organisation in the Tribunal please visite the external link in this website or go to the menue and click on "The Tenant Protection Act".
A15 : If no order has been issued because the hearing is still on going, you may write a letter to the Vice Chair of the Tribunal to explain the situation. You will most likely receive a letter from him or her telling you that he or she can't get involved until an order is issued by the Member. When the order is issued you can file an application to review the order. While this application is filed the order is stayed and cannot be executed. If you are not satisfied with the way you are treated in the tribunal because of any reasons includingt "bigotry", you can file an appeal with the Divisional Court of Ontario in your district. If you file an appeal, the order is stayed and cannot be reinforced. To learn more about how to file an appeal with the Divisional Court of Ontario in your district click here. Remember when you are a newcomer or a minority in Canada, the law is your best friend. No discrimination regardless of where it comes from can go unpunished unless you allow it to happen. And allowing it to happen is promoting it therefore contributing to the problem.
A9 : If you have been given a Notice of Termination by the landlord, you should immediately contact your lawyer or the local Legal Clinic in all cases. For a listing of Legal Aid Ontario community legal clinics which provide free services to lower-income people and families check the external links on the menue of this website.
And yes, you can be evicted any time, even in the middle of winter.
The landlord can evict you for the following grounds:
You must be given time in the Notice of Termination to correct these situations, but will not be given this chance in the case of impairing safety, committing illegal acts, or misrepresentation of income in public/subsidized housing.
There are other grounds for eviction, such as if the landlord personally needs the apartment to live in, if they are demolishing the building, converting the building (such as to a condominium) or doing such major repairs or renovations that they need your unit vacated. As unscrupulous landlords could falsely use these other situations as an excuse for eviction, contact your legal advisor or legal clinic immediately, as well as your local tenants' association.
A17 : First, the landlord must serve you with a "Notice of Termination", which is commonly called an eviction notice. The notice must: be signed by the landlord or the landlord's representative, give the address you are being evicted from, the date you are being asked to leave by, and give the reasons and details of why the landlord claims you should be evicted. The notice must also inform the tenant that if they do not vacate the premises, the landlord may apply to the Tribunal for an Order terminating the tenancy and evicting the tenant, and that the tenant can file a dispute of such an application with the Tribunal. Contact your lawyer or local Legal Clinic immediately.
The landlord must then fill out an "Application to Terminate a Tenancy" and file this with the governments' Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal. The landlord is legally responsible to give you a copy of this application as well as a "Notice of Hearing" which gives you the date of the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal hearing.
Unless you wish to move out, you must file a written dispute. This should be done as soon as your receive a copy of the "Application to Terminate a Tenancy" but must be filed with the Tribunal within 5 days of receiving the "Notice of Hearing" from the landlord. If you do not file the dispute within this time it will be assumed that you agree with the application, no hearing will be held, and the Tribunal will write an "Eviction Order" against you even before the hearing date on the Notice. If you did intend to dispute the eviction you can still do something about it but you must contact legal counsel quickly to set aside the eviction.
If an "Eviction Order" has been issued, a copy will be given to the municipal Sheriff's Office. An Eviction Order will take effect in 11 days. Your landlord can not physically remove you from your apartment nor can the police, only the Sheriff who is an officer of the Court can do that.
A18 : If no "Eviction Order" has been issued by the Tribunal, no. If an "Eviction Order" has been issued, then the Sheriff can have the locks changed but the landlord can not do it themselves.
Unscrupulous landlords may break the law and lock you out. You must immediately contact the police and get legal advice from your lawyer or local legal clinic.
A19 : Under the Harris government's new Tenant "Protection" Act, the landlord may charge a new tenant in a unit anything they wish. Even if you moved into a different unit in the same building you are considered a new tenant. This is often referred to as "Vacancy Decontrol". If you think the rent being asked for is too high, it is up to you to try to negotiate something lower with the landlord before you move in, if you can.
A20 : Rent Controls now only apply once you are living in the apartment because of the Harris government's new law. Rent-Geared-To-Income housing and nursing homes do not have Rent Controls.
Under Rent Controls you need to know about "Maximum Legal Rent" and the "Annual Guideline Increase".
A21 : If you moved into your present apartment after June 17, 1998 there is no "Maximum Legal Rent" as defined under this law. Landlords are able to charge you whatever they want. But once you start paying rent, then Rent Controls apply.
If you were living in your present apartment on June 17, 1998, there is "Maximum Legal Rent" for your apartment. If you need to find out what the "Maximum Legal Rent" is, you can call the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal at 1-888-332-3234.
If there is a "Maximum Legal Rent" for your apartment, and the landlord has been charging you less than this, they may raise the rent to the "Maximum Legal Rent" as long as they give you 90 days written notice of the increase, and it is at least 12 months since your last rent increase.
A22 : The landlord can raise the rent only once every 12 months for as long as you remain in that unit. The landlord must give you at least 90 days' notice in writing of any rent increase, or you do not have to pay the increase, but you still have to pay the rent.
A23 : The "Annual Guideline Increase" is an amount set each year by the government. If you are already paying the "Maximum Legal Rent" or you moved in after June 17, 1998, the "Annual Guideline Increase" is the maximum the landlord may raise your rent without applying to the government's Tribunal for a larger increase. The "Annual Guideline Increase" is 2.9% for 2003, 3.9% for 2002. For previous years see the: Ontario Rent Increase Guidelines
The landlord can apply to the Tribunal for an above-guideline rent increase. They can get annual increases of up to 4% above the "Annual Guideline Increase" amount for things such as repairs or renovations or new security measures. They can also get increases with no maximums for increases in municipal property taxes or increased utility costs.
The landlord can not charge you above the "Annual Guideline Increase" without first getting approval from the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal. Under the law, the landlord must give you a copy of their "Application For An Above Guideline Increase" and inform you of the date for the hearing. You can challenge the landlord's application if you have good reasons; get advice from your legal clinic and your local tenants' association on what to do. If you do wish to challenge the landlord's application it is usually wise to do it as a group, and the easiest way to do this is to form a building tenants' association.
A24 : They can ask you, but they can not make you sign such an agreement. Be very careful what you agree to! If you do sign such an agreement, you have 5 days to inform the landlord in writing if you have changed your mind.
You may want to sign an agreement for an added service the landlord has offered such as a dishwasher put into your unit and may want to agree to pay more for that, but check the price, you will likely find it is cheaper to buy it yourself.
Some landlords may ask tenants to sign an agreement for an increase in rent to replace faulty refrigerators or stoves. Remember that if your apartment came with these appliances, it is the landlord's responsibility to make sure you have working ones; the landlord does not have to provide you with new appliances, only working ones. So don't offer to pay extra for what is the landlord's responsibility to provide!
A25 : Under the law, the landlord must give you a receipt for paying the rent if you request it. If you pay with cash or the landlord has a bad reputation it is a good idea to demand a receipt. If you can not get a receipt, you should not only get legal advice but probably set up a tenants' association in your building to fight the landlord on this.
A26 : Under the Tenant Protection Act, if the landlord requested it when you applied for the apartment, you must provide such a deposit. Once you are a tenant, you do not need to provide one, unless you agreed to do so before getting the apartment.
I have often seen that if a new landlord buys a building they often try to get the tenants to pay another deposit. Since you already paid it to the previous landlord you do not have to pay another one, but get legal advice and contact the your local tenant association about this.
landlords must pay you 6% annually on your rent deposit.
A27 : Any fees or deposits, except "last month's rent" deposit, Non-sufficient fund charges or key-deposit/key-replacement fees, are illegal. See this article evidence of landlord's abuses.
Refundable Key deposits are legal if not greater than the expected direct replacement costs. Similarly, replacement or additional keys, should not be greater that the direct cost, but there are no fees for keys needed because the landlord replaced the lock.
Where the tenant has provided a cheque that bounced due to insufficient funds in the account, the landlord may not charge more than any NSF charge the landlord had to pay to the financial institution plus up to an additional $20 "administrative charge". (Part VII regulations)
Landlords and their employees are breaking the law if they demand that you buy furniture, carpeting or draperies in an apartment, or demand that you pay painting fees, damage deposits, locker or parking space registration fees, finder's fees, or application or registration fees to get the apartment.
If parking or a locker are not included in the rent, though they can not charge you a registration fee for getting them, they can charge you a monthly fee for those services.
A28 : You should immediately contact your lawyer, community legal clinic, or OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty). Visit the external link on the menue of this website
A landlord shall not harass, obstruct, coerce, threaten the tenant or interfere with the tenant's reasonable enjoyment of his apartment.
Q29 - More answers to your questions to come ...
Q30 - More answers to your questions to come ...