On January 31, 2007, the Government of Ontario brought into effect the new Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), replacing the old Tenant Protection Act that had been in effect since 1998. As a renter, perhaps the most important thing you can do is to simply know your rights by understanding what the RTA is all about and how it affects you as a tenant.
The new legislation applies to most types of residential rental properties in the province and outlines exactly how landlord-tenant relations will be governed. This includes protecting residential tenants from unlawful rent increases and evictions, establishing a framework for the regulation of residential rents and balancing the rights and responsibilities of residential landlords and tenants in order to better resolve disputes.
First, it is important to know that anything in your tenancy agreement that conflicts with the RTA is not valid. All limits and stipulations outlined in the RTA for areas such as rent increases and eviction procedures must be followed, even if your tenancy agreement says otherwise. For example, it is illegal for a landlord to require post-dated cheques from a tenant, even if the rental agreement says they are required.
The Landlord and Tenant Board is the new name for the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal, the governing body that settles disputes between landlords and tenants and enforces their rights. Both tenants and landlords can make applications to the Board, and if you and your landlord cannot agree on how to work out a problem, the Board will hold a hearing to resolve the situation.
Although rent increases are carefully controlled by the RTA, before a tenant moves in, landlords can charge whatever they want for a vacant unit. However, after you move in, your landlord must wait at least 12 months before raising your rent, and any increases after that must be at least 12 months apart. Your landlord must also give you at least 90 days written notice before your rent increases.
These rent increases must follow the annual rent guidelines established by the provincial government. For 2007, the government determined that landlords can increase the rent by a maximum of 2.6 percent. To raise your rent by more than this guideline, your landlord must apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for permission. The Board can allow an above-guideline increase only for:
According to the RTA, your landlord can enter your home without telling you ahead of time only if there is an emergency or if your landlord gives you cleaning services. Otherwise, your landlord must give you notice in writing 24 hours ahead of time and can only enter your place between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., even if it is to do repairs or inspections.
Once you have given notice to move out or agreed to terminate your rental agreement, your landlord can enter your place to show it to a new tenant as long as your landlord makes a reasonable effort to let you know when the showing will take place.
Believe it or not, you do not have to move out just because your lease expires – your tenancy automatically continues on a month-to-month basis until you or your landlord does something to end it. Not renewing your lease at the end of the agreement can actually be ideal if you know you want to stay in the place you are renting but you’re not sure if you want to stay there for another full year.
If you want to move out, you can provide your landlord written notice giving the exact date you want your tenancy to end. If you pay your rent by the month, you must give your landlord at least 60 days written notice.
Explaining the reasons why your landlord wants you to leave. Among the reasons your landlord might cite include:
It also contains detailed rules about subletting, maintenance and eviction hearings, as well as outlining exactly how the legislation applies to non-traditional rental units such as mobile home parks, subsidized housing and care homes.
This article is not intended to give tenants or landlords concrete legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns about the Residential Tenancies Act, or if you would like a copy of the Act, please contact the Landlord and Tenant Board.
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