As a renter in Ontario, you have rights and protections under the law. Sometimes landlords, or even scammers, will take advantage of renters not fully understanding their rights. It’s so important to understand what your rights are and how to exercise them. Here’s some key rights as a renter in Ontario that you need to know.
You can file a complaint if you faced discrimination even before becoming a renter
Did you know that the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) can review issues that started as early as the application process, even if you never lived in the unit? Ontario law states that everyone has the right to rent and live in a rental home. A landlord cannot refuse to rent to you based on your race, gender, sexuality, or religion. This can also apply if you have a disability or have children. These, among many others, are protected under the Human Rights Code in Ontario. You can use the Human Rights Legal Support Centre’s online questionnaire to help you determine whether you were discriminated against.
Not all rent deposits are legal
You may have heard of paying first and last month’s rent upfront, or giving a key deposit, but there is a lot of nuance when it comes to what deposits your landlord can require. Key deposits aren’t legal, with the exception of:
- Payment for additional keys, remote entry devices or cards requested by the tenant, not greater than the direct costs.
- Payment for replacement keys, remote entry devices or cards, not greater than the direct replacement costs, unless the replacement keys, remote entry devices or cards are required because the landlord, on the landlord’s initiative, changed the locks.
- Payment of a refundable key, remote entry device or card deposit, not greater than the expected direct replacement costs.
If your landlord is asking for: a pet deposit, a damage deposit, or post-dated cheques, you have the right to refuse to provide these. These types of deposits are not legal. Always do your research before providing a deposit or any money upfront. If you paid a deposit to your landlord that you later found out was illegal, and your landlord refuses to return the money, you can file a complaint with the LTB to get your deposit back.
When your landlord can and cannot enter the unit
Your landlord is not allowed to enter your unit without written notice, with a few notable
exceptions, which are:
- In cases of emergency
- With your consent
- If they are showing the unit to prospective tenants after a notice or agreement has been made to end your tenancy.
Your landlord can only conduct a showing during the hours of 8:00am to 8:00pm, and should give some kind of advance notice. Otherwise, your landlord must give you at least a 24 hour written notice before entering, along with providing an exact time and reason for entering. Your landlord needs to provide the notice in writing, and the time of entry must fall between 8:00am and 8:00pm. There are several reasons your landlord may need to enter your unit, the most common being for inspection, to conduct maintenance and/or repair, or to have the unit inspected by a licensed city official. You can find out more about under what circumstances your landlord may enter your unit here.
Under no circumstances can your landlord cut off a vital service
These vital services may include hot or cold water, fuel, electricity, natural gas, and/or heat. Your landlord can not cut off these services from you for any reason, even if you owe rent, or have done anything to breach your lease. It is also illegal for your landlord to threaten to cut off any of these services. However, if the energy account for the unit is under your name, your landlord is not responsible for you not paying your bill. If you are in this situation and are not financially able to pay your energy bills, you can look into The Low-Income Energy Network for resources. If your landlord has threatened to or withheld vital services, you can file a complaint to the LTB.
As a renter, it is vital to know your rights! Do you have specific questions? ACTO has developed a number of tip sheets and guides, which can be accessed here.