Know your tenant rights!

Got landlord problems? It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

apartment for rent sign

First, your rights as a tenant depend on what kind of tenant you are considered to be under Ontario lawThe Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) covers tenants who rent in places such as rooms, mobile home parks, apartments and retirement residences.

People who are not covered by the RTA include:

  • People who live in a space that’s shared with the property owner (for example, you share a kitchen with the owner of the property)
  • People who live in a space that’s designated for businesses
  • People who live in accommodation that’s considered ‘temporary’
  • If you live in another tenant’s home

If you are not covered by the RTA, Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) has information on your rights here and also lists places where you can get legal advice here.

delapitated rooming house

Highlights of your rights as a tenant under the RTA:

  • Landlords have the right to file a notice a “Notice to terminate for nonpayment of rent” if your rent is late by one day. After receiving this notice, you have 14-days to pay up. (If you are a daily or weekly renter, you only have seven days to pay). If you haven’t paid your rent within that time, the landlord can file an application with the Landlord and Tenant Board to get their payment. In Ontario, most evictions are because of rent arrears.
  • If your landlord is trying to evict you, they need to follow the steps outlined by the Landlord and Tenant Board. During this time, you should receive three notices with information as to when your landlord wants you to leave your home and why, confirmation that your landlord has applied to the Board in order to evict you, and a notice of when your hearing will take place.
  • As a tenant, you are not allowed to stop paying rent because your landlord hasn’t done repairs.
  • The landlord is responsible for repairing your unit, you are responsible for the daily cleaning of your unit.
  • If there is a ‘no pet’ clause in your rental agreement, and you have a pet, you can not be evicted on the basis of having that pet. But if your pet damages the property, this may be a reason to evict you.
  • Your landlord can enter your unit as long as they give you 24-hours notice. However, there may be specific circumstances where your landlord can enter your unit, which are covered under your rental agreement. A landlord can also enter your unit without notice in an emergency situation.
old apartment building in Regent Park

Where to get help

If you are having a legal issue with your landlord, the best thing to do is to contact your local community legal clinic. You can also call the Tenant Hotline at 416-921-9494.

If you feel your human rights have been violated or you’ve been discriminated against in a housing situation, you can call the Centre for Equality Rights in Accomodation (CERA) at 1-800-263-1139 ext. 1.

For more information:

        • The Federation of Metro Tenant Associations has a ‘Tenant Survival Manual’ here
        • CLEO has information about the RTA here
        • CERA has this video about human rights and housing:

To speak to someone about your rights as a tenant,

call the Tenant Hotline at 416 921-9494,

8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday to Friday

Sources: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Centre for Equality Rights in AccomodationCLEO, Community Advocacy and Legal Centre, Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations