The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) is an Ontario law that gives landlords and tenants specific rights and responsibilities. It provides rules for increasing the rent, evicting a tenant, maintenance, etc. Under the RTA, the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) was created to solve disputes between tenants and their landlords.

The RTA covers people living in rental housing. It does not apply to people living in:

  • emergency shelters
  • hospitals or nursing homes (long-term care facilities)
  • prison
  • student residents or dormitories
  • temporary or seasonal use units
  • units that share a kitchen or bathroom with their landlord or a member of their immediate family
  • people not on a lease

A landlord has the right to choose a tenant using income information, credit checks, credit references, rental history, guarantees. A landlord can ask:

  • what your income is
  • if you work, and where you work
  • how many people will be living with you
  • the names of people who will be living with you
  • if you have pets
  • if you smoke
  • permission to do a credit check (requiring: full name, date of birth, current address)
  • references from past landlords
  • in some cases, if you have a guarantor or co-signer

Landlords can decline a prospective tenant based on the answers to the above questions. For example: poor rental history (including rental arrears), having pets, or if your landlord is not confident your income is sufficient to cover the rent.

A landlord is not allowed to ask:

  • if you are pregnant or have children
  • if you plan to have children, or if you plan to have more children
  • if you are married, single, or divorced
  • your religion or ethnic background
  • your sexual orientation
  • if you get welfare or other public assistance
  • if you have a disability
  • your age (even if you are 16 or 17 as long as you are living away from your parents)
  • if you are a Canadian citizen

A landlord must not discriminate against potential tenants.

Leases and tenancy agreements are contracts between a property owner and a tenant. They usually indicate:

  • the length of a tenancy (e.g., 12 months)
  • the amount of rent
  • services that will be included in the rent (e.g., parking, cable, heat, electricity, air conditioning)

Landlords

Most landlords must use the standard lease template.

The lease must contain the legal name and address of the landlord.

The landlord must provide a copy of a signed tenancy agreement to the tenant within 21 days of the tenancy beginning.

Tenants

Read your lease carefully before you sign it and ask for help if you do not understand it (you can call the Tenant Hotline at 416-921-9494).

Tenants do not have to renew the lease when it expires, you automatically become a month-to-month tenant. All the terms of your original lease continue even if you do not sign a new lease.

If you want to move out, you must give the property owner 60 days (two full months) written notice before the end of your tenancy if on a fixed term lease. 28 days if on a weekly or daily tenancy. You may owe your landlord more rent if you do not give notice in proper time.

Landlords

Landlords are entitled to collect rent, in full, on the day that it is due.

The landlord must provide tenants with a receipt for rent paid upon request.

The landlord or tenancy agreement cannot require post‐dated cheques or require automatic debit.

Tenants

Tenants are responsible for paying rent in full on the day that it is due.

Upon signing a new lease or tenancy agreement, the landlord may collect a rent deposit. The maximum amount of this deposit is the same as the rent for one rental period (e.g., one month or one week). This deposit will be used as the tenant’s final rent payment for the last month or week living in the rental unit.

A landlord may also ask for a key deposit, but it cannot be more than the cost of replacing the key.

It is illegal for a property owner to charge a damage deposit or other additional charges.

Guideline Increases

The landlord is allowed to raise the rent by a guideline amount once per year. This can happen 12 months after:

  • a tenant first moves in, or
  • the last rent increase

The annual rent increase guideline amount is set by the Ontario government every year (e.g., between January 1 and December 31, 2020, rent increases up to 2.2 per cent may be applied).

The landlord must provide the tenant with written notice of a rent increase at least 90 days before it takes effect.

This guideline does not apply to new buildings, additions to existing buildings and most new basement apartments that are occupied for the first time for residential purposes after November 15, 2018.

Above Guideline Increases (AGI)

If the landlord wants to increase your rent above the guideline amount, they must first apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board and notify you 90 days before the increase. A landlord may apply for an AGI if:

  • there has been an extraordinary increase in municipal taxes or costs associated with the residential complex,
  • the landlord has eligible capital expenses related to significant renovations or repairs, or
  • the landlord has additional operating costs related to security of the residential complex.

Tenants

If you have any questions or concerns after receiving a notice for an Above Guideline Increase, please call the Tenant Hotline at 416-921-9494 (the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations also works with tenants facing Above Guideline Increases).

A landlord must provide 24 hours written notice to enter a unit and can only enter an occupied rental unit:

  • if something needs to be fixed
  • to do a maintenance inspection
  • if you have given notice to move out, and the property owner is showing your apartment to new tenants

Landlords

Landlords are required to give 24 hours written notice to enter the rental unit. A landlord can only enter a unit without written notice if it is an emergency situation (e.g., a fire or flood) or if the tenant agrees to it.

The written notice has to detail the reason for the entry, the day of entry and the time of entry, which must fall between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. (a tenant does not have to be home for the landlord to enter).

The landlord must have a reasonable reason to do a maintenance inspection – unreasonable entries may interfere with reasonable enjoyment and/or be considered harassment.

If the landlord and tenant have agreed to end the tenancy, the landlord may enter the unit to show prospective renters between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and must make a reasonable effort to inform or notify the tenant before entry.

A landlord can only enter a unit without written notice if it is an emergency situation (like a fire or flood) or if the tenant agrees to it.

Landlords

The landlord must keep the building and the rental units in a good state of repair complying with all health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. Landlords are responsible for repairs even if the tenant knew about problems before agreeing to rent the home.

The landlord is responsible for fixing anything that breaks or does not work properly (e.g., a broken refrigerator, a clogged drain or leaking pipes).

The landlord is responsible for getting rid of pests (e.g., cockroaches and mice). Tenants should work cooperatively with landlords and abide by any treatment plans to achieve pest removal.

Tenants

Tenants are responsible for fixing any damage that they or their guests cause.

If you are facing maintenance issues that your landlord has not dealt with, do not withhold rent. If you withhold your rent to get repairs done, the property owner may apply to evict you.

If the property owner has filed an eviction application against you, you may bring up any repair and maintenance issues at the hearing.

Learn more about rental housing standards and enforcement.

Landlords

The landlord is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the common or shared areas of the building, such as hallways and yards. The landlord is also responsible for removing snow from driveways, walkways, etc.

Landlords

The landlord must provide heat between September 15th and May 31st so that the temperature in the rental units is at least 21˚Celsius according to City of Toronto bylaws.

If the building has air conditioning, the landlord is required to turn it on between June 2nd and September 14th to maintain a maximum temperature of not more than 26°C.

Tenants

If you are experiencing indoor temperature issues in your apartment, learn more about rental housing standards and enforcement.

Landlords

The landlord must provide access to hot and cold water, electricity, heat and fuel (e.g. natural gas). The landlord cannot shut-off these services, even if the tenant has not paid rent.

Vital services may be temporarily shut off for the minimum period necessary in order to make repairs. Landlords must notify tenants of the interruption of vital services.

The landlord and tenant can agree in the lease that the tenant will pay for these services as a standard fee each month (i.e. utilities are included in the rent) or based on what the tenant uses.

Learn more about rental housing standards and enforcement.

Landlords

Landlords have the right to refuse tenants if they suspect they will move in with pets. However, once a landlord accepts a tenant, in spite of any verbal agreements or contract stipulations, landlords cannot evict tenants for pet ownership under most circumstances.

Tenants

A tenant cannot be legally evicted because they have a pet in violation of a “no pets” clause in the rental agreement.

A landlord may have a valid reason to apply to evict a tenant for having a pet if the pet:

  • damages the property
  • disturbs the reasonable enjoyment of other tenants or infringes on the rights of other tenants
  • is dangerous or an illegal breed (e.g. Pit Bull)
  • contravenes municipal law (e.g. too many pets)
  • if you don’t clean up after your pet

Landlords

A landlord must adhere to the Human Rights Code and cannot select or refuse tenants based on:

  • race
  • place of origin
  • ethnic origin
  • religion
  • sex
  • age
  • sexual orientation,
  • marital status
  • family status (e.g. children)
  • disability

For example, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because you are a newcomer to Canada or because you have children.

Tenants

If you are experiencing discrimination, find legal help.

There is a legal process under the Residential Tenancies Act which a landlord must follow in order to evict a tenant. There are many points in this process at which a tenant can try to fix the situation and/or pay arrears and have the eviction stopped.

Landlords

A landlord cannot change the locks or cut off vital services to evict a tenant. This can only be done by the Court Enforcement Office (the Sheriff) on the basis of an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).

Tenants

You do not have to move out upon receiving a notice of eviction (any LTB form that begins with an “N” or an informal letter notifying you of eviction). This is just a notice. If you do not want to move out, your landlord must then file an application to evict with the LTB. It will be determined at your LTB hearing whether or not the eviction will proceed.

Visit Understand & Fight Evictions to learn more about the eviction process and your options.

If your landlord changes your locks, cuts off any vital services or is harassing you by telling you to leave your apartment, contact the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit (Toll Free: 1-888-772-9277 or 416-585-7214) to address this issue. Find Legal Help right away. You may be eligible for free legal services or, if you are not eligible, learn about your options.

You may also file a T2 form: Application about Tenant Rights with the LTB.

Landlords

Every rental apartment building with three or more storeys and 10 or more units must register with RentSafeTO: Apartment Building Standards. Once registered, owners are required to renew their registration every year by July 31.

Learn how to register or renew.