Frequently Asked Questions
small font medium font large font Adjust Font Size printer iconPrinter Friendly

FAQ's

Should I call ACTO if I'm having a problem with my landlord?

ACTO does not provide individual service to tenants. If you are a low-income tenant, contact your local legal clinic to see if they can provide free legal advice. To find your nearest legal clinic, go to the clinic page on Legal Aid Ontario’s website.

My landlord wants me to start paying the electricity bill for my apartment.  Can he force me to do this?

Most tenants in Ontario pay for the electricity they use as part of their rent.  This arrangement is made at the beginning of the tenancy and cannot be changed unless you sign an agreement with your landlord that says you will start paying for it separately.  New technology, new regulations and rising prices are encouraging landlords to get tenants to agree to this change.  You must receive a rent reduction as part of this agreement and there are other requirements that a landlord must meet.  See our tip sheet on this issue here before you agree to this or if you need more information.

Can I be evicted in winter?

Yes. There are no seasonal restrictions on when a landlord can apply to the Landlord & Tenant Board to evict a tenant.

My landlord gave me a "Notice to Terminate a Tenancy Early." Do I have to leave?

No. That is just the first step of the eviction process. In most cases, a landlord must first give you notice, then apply to evict you at the Landlord & Tenant Board, receive an order to evict you from the Board, and then take that order to the Sheriff to enforce the eviction. Only the Sheriff is able to evict you from your unit. For more information about the eviction process, see materials provided by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) including their rental housing guide.

I'm new to Canada and having a hard time finding housing. Are there particular resources for new immigrants?

The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) has a helpful website called http://www.settlement.org/topics.asp?section=HO . You can also visit the Centre of Equality Rights and Accommodation's website and/or the Housing Help Association's website http://www.findhousinghelp.ca/

I'm looking for an apartment and several landlords have told me that they don't rent to people on welfare. Can they do that?

No. It is against the Ontario Human Rights Code to discriminate against a person in respect of their housing simply because they receive social assistance. You can contact:

(1) your local legal clinic,

(2) the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, and/or

(3) the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation

My landlord told me she's going to raise my rent next month. Can she do that?

There is an annual guideline set by the provincial government. In most cases your landlord can only increase your rent once every twelve months by the guideline amount. In most cases, your landlord must give you 90 days written notice of the annual rent increase (unless you specifically agreed to a rent increase in writing or have accepted an additional service and agreed to the increased cost). Landlords can also apply to the Landlord & Tenant Board for an increase above the guideline, based on items like increased utilities costs or renovations. The increase above the guideline must be approved by the Board. See the Landlord & Tenant Board's rent increase guideline document at: http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/en/Key_Information/STDPROD_098894.htm

I'm not a low-income tenant, but do need some legal advice on a landlord and tenant matter. How do I find a lawyer or paralegal to help me?

There is a free service called the Law Society Referral Service, operated by the Law Society of Upper Canada. The service will provide the name of a lawyer or licensed paralegal who will provide up to 30 minutes free consultation to help you determine your rights and options. You can access the service by calling 1-800-268-8326 or going to their website.  You could also contact JusticeNet, a not-for-profit service helping people connect with lawyers who have agreed to work for low- and moderate-income people for fees based on your income. They can be reached at www.justicenet.ca

My landlord won't make some really important repairs to my unit, and I keep asking. What should I do?

It's best to keep records of your requests for maintenance, especially in writing. Take pictures if possible. It is the landlord's responsibility to provide and maintain the unit in good repair. In some cases you may want to contact your local property standards inspectors who can order the landlord to carry out repairs.  In many places they can be reached by calling 311 or call your town or city government office. In some areas of the province there are provincial inspectors who can order the landlord to make repairs if you file a written complaint with them.  See their website at http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page1181.aspx

You may want to make an application to the Landlord & Tenant Board to ask them to order the landlord to make repairs and refund part of your rent. See our tip sheet about these applications here and the information from Community Legal Education Ontario at http://www.cleo.on.ca/en/publications/mainreps about how to do this.

These steps also apply to concerns about lack of heat, appliances that do not work and bug or rodent infestations.

My landlord shut the heat off because I haven't paid my rent. Can she do that?

No. It is an offense under the Residential Tenancies Act to interfere with vital service (fuel, hydro and/or water), and is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000. Contact your local legal clinic and/or call the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Investigation and Enforcement Unit at 1-888-772-9277 or visit http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page142.aspx

My landlord says he needs to come over to do something in my unit. Can he just show up?

In most cases, the landlord must provide a tenant with 24 hours written notice of entry. Entry must be between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. The notice must specify the reason, day and time of entry. The landlord is not required to provide the tenant with 24 hours written notice in certain situations, including where:

  • there is an emergency;
  • the tenant lets the landlord in; or
  • the landlord is showing the unit to prospective tenants after notice of termination has been given

Where can I find a cheap apartment?

It is difficult to find an affordable place to live if you are living on a low income.  Most communities have "Housing Help Centres" that try to help low-income people find accommodation in private rental housing. You can find one that serves your community at https://findhousinghelp.ca/ A number of communities provide affordable rental housing to their residents, but the waiting lists can be very long. To find out how to apply, see the information from the Ontario Non Profit Housing Association at Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. Information about other housing options is available from Settlement.org 

Is there financial help just to tide me over until I can pay my rental arrears?

Most communities in Ontario have "rent banks" that lend tenants money to pay their rental arrears. These rent banks are administered by different agencies in every community, and often have strict criteria about lending money. To find out about them visit http://www.ontariorentbank.net.  If you are on social assistance, you should start by discussing the problem with your worker.

My landlord pays the city directly for water service for my rental unit and I agreed to reimburse him for the cost of this service as part of my monthly rent.  Do I have a right to ask for a copy of the bill for proof of the actual cost?

You should ask the landlord for a copy of any utility bill for which you are reimbursing her.  If she declines to provide proof of the actual cost, you can file an application at the Landlord and Tenant Board and request a refund of any unlawful rent for your unit, including the utility services.  You have to file this application with one year of your first reimbursement payment to your landlord in order to have Board order an adjustment in what you are paying.

Some municipalities, such as the City of Toronto, allow the property owner to have the utility bill mailed to their tenant, provided certain terms and certain conditions are met, e.g. the property owner still remains liable for payment.  There may be a fee charged for this “duplicate billing” service.  If this option is available, you should request that the landlord agree to have a copy of the actual bill mailed to you.  

In the Region of Durham, a landlord can request that the water bill be mailed directly to the tenant in their name, but the landlord is still responsible for making the payment to the municipality.  The landlord can contact the municipality at any time by phone or E-mail to verify any amount owing on the water bill.

How do I form a tenants' association?

There are a number of ways to bring tenants together for short-term projects or longer term organizing. The Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations in Toronto has published a Tenant Organizing Manual that you can find here. Another tenant organizing manual has been prepared by R.E.N.T. in Waterloo and can be found here.

I live in a housing co-op. Does the Residential Tenancies Act apply?

Yes. However, that law only applies to allow the co-operative to seek an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board after they have made an internal decision to evict you. The rules that apply to these applications are different from the rules that apply to tenants, although the principles are the same.  However, you cannot apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to address problems that you are having with your co-op unit or your co-op community.  Those issues are dealt with under the rules in your Occupancy Agreement and the Co-op’s by-laws.   For more information about Ontario’s housing co-operatives, go to the website of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada .

I live in non-profit housing. Does the Residential Tenancies Act apply?

Yes. However, the parts of that Act that regulate rents do not apply.  You are also covered by the Housing Services Act which sets out rules for setting subsidized rents and getting access to subsidized housing.  That Act allows each of the 47 local service managers to set some of their own rules. The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association has information for its landlord members and their tenants about these issues at http://www.onpha.on.ca/.

I'm a landlord. Where can I get help?

The Landlord's Self-Help Centre is a non-profit organization that provides information, assistance and educational programs to Ontario's small-scale landlords free of charge. For information about them go to  http://www.landlordselfhelp.com/frontpage.asp