What to expect when you are renting
Before moving into a rental unit, you will likely have to fill out a rental application. The rental application may ask you for:
- your employment information
- your income information
- your current address
- government identification
- next of kin and extended family members
When you rent a unit, the landlord will usually ask you to sign a rental agreement, commonly known as a "lease". The lease will outline the agreements of your tenancy. If there are clauses in your lease that you are not sure are legally binding, you can contact the Landlord and Tenant Board to verify whether or not the clauses are legal.
As a tenant in Ontario, you have legal rights and responsibilities. These rights and responsibilities are explained in the Residential Tenancies Act. It outlines landlord and tenant obligations for most residential properties in the province and includes rules about:
- How to terminate a lease
- When rent can be increased
- Repairs to rental units
- Rent receipts and deposits, subletting, having pets and changing locks
To help your rental experience go as smoothly as possible:
- Be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant
- Keep lines of communication open with your landlord to minimize disagreements
- As your landlord to agree to rental terms in writing
- Always keep copies of documents that you provide to your landlord
If you are unable to resolve a rental issue with your landlord, you can contact the Landlord and Tenant Board for more information. If you are facing immediate, serious issues, such as illegal eviction or disconnection of vital services, you can also contact the ministry's Rental Housing Enforcement Unit.
Here are some answers to common questions that tenants have:
What are my responsibilities as a tenant?
As a tenant, you have many legal responsibilities. Some of these responsibilities include:
- making sure you pay your full rent on time keeping your home clean to a standard that most people think is clean
- repairing damage that you or any of your guests cause
- not disturbing others who live in your building
Do I need to pay a last month's rent deposit?
A landlord can ask for a last month's rent deposit from a tenant before moving in. It is illegal for a landlord to collect a rent deposit for an amount more than the regular rent amount. A landlord cannot request a deposit once you have received the keys or taken possession of your unit.
How often can my landlord raise my rent?
The landlord can raise the rent only once every 12 months for as long as you remain in that unit. The landlord must give you at least 90 days’ notice in writing of any rent increase.
The Annual Guideline Increase is an amount set each year by the government. The Annual Guideline Increase is 1.5% for 2017.
Can a landlord evict me for having a pet?
You do not have to move or get rid of your pet unless the Landlord and Tenant Board issues you a written order to do so. A "no pets" clause in a lease is not enforceable. If your pet is dangerous, causes allergic reactions or causes problems for other tenants or the landlord, the Landlord and Tenant Board may then decide you must get rid of your pet. Please note, there are local municipal by-laws that determine the maximum number of allowable pets for each unit. The by-law varies across municipalities. For more information on the by-law, please contact the local municipal by-law office.
Who is responsible for maintaining the unit?
It is the landlord's responsibility to maintain the unit in a good state of repair, even if:
- you were aware of problems in the unit before your move in
- the lease says that you are responsible for maintenance
However, you are responsible for keeping the unit clean, up to the standard that most people consider normal cleanliness. You are also responsible for repairing or paying for any damage to the rental property caused by your or your guests or another person living in the rental unit.
What should I do if repairs are needed to my building or unit?
Talk to your landlord first about the problems. Put the problems in writing and give the list to the landlord or the person who takes care of maintenance (for example, to the superintendent or property manager).
If the landlord refuses to do the repairs or you think that the landlord is taking too long to deal with the problems, please refer to the Landlord and Tenant Board website for more information about repairs.
Who is responsible for providing vital services?
You must have access to heat, water, electricity, and fuel. Your landlord might pay for these services or you may be required to pay for them separate of your regular rent payment. Your landlord cannot shut off these services, even if you have not paid your rent.
Does the landlord have to give me a rent receipt?
The landlord must give you a receipt (at no charge) for paying the rent if you request it. If you pay with cash it is a good idea to ask for the receipt upon payment.
If you have additional questions, please contact the Landlord and Tenant Board. You can also contact the Durham Community Legal Clinic for more information on your rights and assistance on filing an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board.