This article offers information on a variety of most important things that Ontario landlords must know about. Some of them have been introduced lately and landlords might not have heard about them. To the best of our knowledge, we’ve tried to help small landlords better understand their rights and responsibilities and navigate the regulatory environment to which they are subject. The links to major governmental resources available for Ontario’s landlords are listed below.
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, and the Rental Fairness Act, 2017
In Ontario, there are approximately 1.2 million private rental households, meaning 1.2 million individual landlords. The Rental Fairness Act, 2017, amends the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006. It expands rent control to all private rental units, including those first occupied on or after November 1, 1991. The legislation also introduces additional protections for tenants, including enabling a standard lease and protecting tenants from eviction due to abuse of the “landlord’s own use” provision.
A tenant can raise any issue at a hearing if a landlord applied for eviction for non-payment of rent
It is a new provision that every landlord in Ontario has to know about if they want to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent. Be prepared to unexpected surprises that can generate more problems, very well prepared.
According to the Rental Fairness Act, 2017, a tenant can raise any issues at the hearing about a landlord’s application for non-payment of rent.
When a landlord applies to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent (Form L1 or L9) a hearing is scheduled. At the hearing, the tenant can raise any issues that they could have raised had they filed their own application with the Landlord and Tenant Board. This means that if the tenant has concerns about maintenance issues such as disrepair, harassment or the lawfulness of their rent, they can raise them at the hearing. The Board can make an order to get the issue fixed, if appropriate.
The Residential Tenancies Act does not require tenants to let their landlord know about the issues they want to bring up at the hearing ahead of time.
What a landlord can do to avoid delaying the hearing
In two words – get prepared. Here are some good ideas to address the issues that a tenant may raise at the hearing:
- Do a routine maintenance inspection of the rental unit.
- Take pictures of whatever you think is appropriate to support your statements.
- Review the original lease, and any changes to the rent and/or services.
- Make three copies of all evidences that you might present at the hearing.
- Talk to people who might be a witness at the hearing.
Landlords may also want to bring the following to the hearing:
- Copies of the lease, or other written agreements
- Copies of any complaint letters or requests for repair from the tenant, as well as copies of any responses the landlord has given them,
- Details about what has been done to address any problems and the timelines for doing so
- Any witnesses they may need to assist them in responding to any issues that may arise at the hearing.
Then again, be prepared to avoid wasting time, money and nerves.
Standard tenancy agreement
If a tenancy agreement is first entered into on or after April 30, 2018, it must be in writing using a standard lease form developed by the Ministry of Housing. This form is called Residential Tenancy Agreement (Standard Form of Lease)
The standard lease form
A tenancy agreement (lease) is a contract between a landlord and tenant. In the contract, the tenant agrees to pay rent to live in a rental unit provided by the landlord.
An easy-to-understand standard lease form is designed to help prevent disputes between tenants and landlords. It provides a template to gather basic information such as names and addresses, the total rent and when it is due, and any rules or terms about the rental unit or building. This includes tenancies in single and semi-detached houses, apartment buildings, rented condominiums and secondary units, such as basement apartments.
Landlords have to use the standard lease form
If a landlord does not use the standard lease for tenancies that are entered into on or after April 30, 2018, a tenant can ask for one.
If the landlord doesn’t provide it within 21 days, the tenant can withhold one month’s rent.
Please note, a tenant cannot withhold more than one month’s rent and they must continue paying the rent, even if the landlord never gives them the standard lease. However, if a standard lease is not provided, special rules allow tenants to end their fixed-term lease early.
Get the standard rental agreement form online
The standard lease form is available on the Ministry of Housing’s website at www.mah.gov.on.ca.
Evicting a tenant for “landlord’s own use”
The ‘landlord’s own use’ provision is a new requirement that was introduced in September 2017. Three major things Ontario landlords must know about:
- The landlord or family member must intend to live in the unit for at least one year.
- Landlords can no longer evict tenants without compensation.
- It is an offence under the Residential Tenancies Act for a landlord to knowingly end a tenancy by giving notice in bad faith. If the landlord advertises, re-rents or demolishes/converts the unit within one year, she or he will be considered to have acted in bad faith unless they can prove otherwise, and could face a fine of up to $25,000 for an individual landlord.
Under the new rental legislation, Ontario landlords must either give the tenant the equivalent of one month’s rent or offer the tenant another unit that the tenant accepts.
Landlords have to use the following Ontario Landlord and Tenant board forms:
- N12: Notice to End your Tenancy Because the Landlord, a Purchaser or a Family Member Requires the Rental Unit
- N13: Notice to End your Tenancy Because the Landlord Wants to Demolish the Rental Unit, Repair it or Convert it to Another Use
- L2: Application to End a Tenancy and Evict a Tenant
Once the landlord gives the tenant a notice terminating the tenancy for one of these reasons, they can apply to the Landlord and Tenant board for an order evicting the tenant. However, a tenant can only be evicted at the end of their tenancy and only if the Board issues an eviction order.
If a tenant wants to break a lease
If a tenant wants to move out BEFORE the end of the tenancy, they can ask their landlord for consent to assign or sublet the unit.
- Assigning a unit means that the tenant moves out of the unit permanently and transfers their tenancy to another person. All the terms (the amount of the rent and etc.) of the original rental agreement stay the same.
- Subletting a unit means that the tenant moves out of the unit for a certain period of time but they want to return to it before the end of the tenancy. The person who moves in (subtenant) pays the rent to the original tenant who then pays it to the landlord.
The landlord must have a good reason for refusing a sublet or assign. If the tenant thinks that the landlord is being unreasonable in withholding their consent, they can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order ending the tenancy agreement early.
If a tenant assigns or sublets the unit without the landlord’s consent
A landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (Application about a Sublet or an Assignment) to evict both the tenant and the unauthorized occupant.
ATTENTION LANDLORDS: If the landlord does not file the application within 60 days of discovering the unauthorized occupant, the unauthorized occupant becomes a tenant.
Once the tenancy begins and the rent amount is agreed, the rules about rent increase outlined in the in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, apply.
In most cases, a landlord can usually increase the rent once every 12 months in accordance with the guideline set each year by the Ministry of Housing. A landlord can only increase the rent by the percentage allowed in that year, no matter how much the landlord increased the rent in previous years or didn’t increase at all.
The landlord has to give the tenant a 90 day written notice of the increase.
When a term of the lease is void
If a term conflicts with the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, the term is void (not valid) and it cannot be enforced. Some examples of void and unenforceable terms include those that:
- Do not allow pets (however, the landlord can require the tenant to comply with condominium rules, which may prohibit certain pets),
- Do not allow guests, roommates, any additional occupants,
- Require the tenant to pay deposits, fees or penalties that are not permitted under the Residential Tenancies Act 2006
- Require the tenant to pay for all or part of the repairs that are the responsibility of the landlord.
Reasons to evict a tenant
In Ontario, a landlord can evict a tenant only for the reasons allowed by the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, and the Rental Fairness Act, 2017.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant simply for heaving a pet or roommate or smoking
However, if the pet or roommate is causing a problem (for example, making a lot of noise, damaging the unit, or there are too many roommates), the landlord can apply to evict the tenant.
Also, the landlord may apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to end the tenancy if the smoking interferes with reasonable enjoyment, lawful right, privilege or interest of the landlord or other tenants, causes undue damage and impairs safety.
A landlord can charge a fee for a tenant’s NSF cheque
If a tenant’s rent cheque is returned NSF, a landlord can ask the tenant to pay for the charges the landlord has to pay to the bank, plus an administrative charge of up to $20. Landlords can also claim any NSF cheque charges if they apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for arrears of rent.
A landlord cannot interfere with vital services no matter what
A landlord cannot disconnect or interfere with any vital services that they are required to supply, such as electricity, heat, fuel, gas or water (hot or cold). By not providing a vital service, the landlord may be found guilty of an offence.
If a landlord provides heat, they need to keep a rental unit heated to at least 20 degrees Celsius from September 1 to June 15.
Tenants can call the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Housing at 1-888-772-9277 or 416-585-7214.
Be very careful with applications
If you are not sure which application to file, go to the Help for Landlords page of the Landlord and Tenant Board: http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/help-for-landlords/
Each form has a guide that you have to follow. Be very careful with the dates to avoid dismissal of your application. For example: If the rental agreement requires the tenant to pay rent on the first day of each month, and the tenant does not give you the full rent payment on March 1st, the earliest day that you can give N4 (Notice to End a Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent) is March 2nd.
The Landlord and Tenant Board contacts
For more information, or to obtain copies of forms and publications:
- Toll free: 1-888-332-3234
- Toronto area: 416-645-8080
- TTY: Bell Relay Service at 1-800-268-9242
- Website: sjto.ca/ltb
- You can visit your local Landlord and Tenant Board office. A list of Board office locations can be found on the website.