Frequently Asked Questions

Starting a Tenancy
Q. Who is covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA)?

A. The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA) covers most residential rental units in Ontario including mobile homes, care homes and rooming and boarding houses. However, there are situations where a rental unit is not covered.

For example, the RTA does not apply if:

  • the tenant must share a kitchen or bathroom with the owner, or the owner’s family members
  • the unit is used on a seasonal or temporary basis

Many of the provisions and protections in the RTA about rent do not apply to:

  • rental buildings first occupied for residential purposes after November 1, 1991
  • non-profit and public housing
  • university and college residences

Most of the other provisions and protections, like the ones about maintenance and the reasons for eviction, do apply. The RTA does not apply to commercial tenancies.

Q. Can a landlord ask a person applying for a rental unit to provide information about their income, credit references and rental history?
A. Yes. A landlord can ask the person applying for the rental unit to provide information such as: current residence, rental history, employment history, references and income information. However,Regulation 290/98 of the Human Rights Code has rules that landlords must follow when asking for information about the income of a prospective tenant.
Q. What information does a landlord have to give to a new tenant?

A. A landlord must give all new tenants the brochure: Information for New Tenants, which includes information about the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, the role of the LTB and how to contact the LTB. The landlord must give the tenant the brochure on or before the day the tenancy begins, even if the tenant does not move in on that date. The landlord has 21 days after the tenant has signed and returned the tenancy agreement to give the tenant a copy with the signatures of both the tenant and the landlord.

Where there is no written tenancy agreement, the landlord must provide the tenant with his or her legal name and address within 21 days of the start of the tenancy.

If the landlord does not give the tenant a copy of the signed tenancy agreement within 21 days or, if there is no written agreement and the landlord doesn’t provide the tenant with their legal name and address within 21 days, the tenant can refuse to pay some or all the rent.

However, once the landlord provides the tenant with the document(s), the tenant must immediately pay all the rent that they withheld. If the tenant refuses, the landlord could apply to evict the tenant for non-payment of rent

Q. Can a landlord collect a rent deposit?

A. Yes. A landlord can collect a rent deposit as long as they ask for it on or before the day that the landlord and tenant enter into the tenancy agreement.

The rent deposit cannot equal more than one month’s rent or the rent for one rental period, whichever is less. For example, if rent payments are made weekly, the deposit cannot be more than one week’s rent; if rent payments are made monthly, the deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent.

The rent deposit must be used for the rent for the last month before the tenancy ends. It cannot be used for anything else, such as to pay for damages.

Q. How often can the rent be increased?
A. The landlord can increase the rent once every 12 months.
Q. When can a landlord apply for a rent increase above the guideline?

A. A landlord can apply for a rent increase above the guideline for any of the following reasons:

  • The landlord’s costs for municipal taxes and/or utilities (heat, water and electricity combined) have increased by an extraordinary amount.
  • The landlord did extraordinary or significant renovations, repairs, replacements or new additions to the building or to individual units. This type of work is called a “capital expenditure”.
  • The landlord’s costs for security services increased, or the landlord began providing security services for the first time.

The terms “extraordinary” and “capital expenditures” are defined in the brochure: Information about Applications for a Rent Increase above the Guideline.

Q. Does a landlord have to notify a tenant of a rent increase?
A. Yes. The landlord must give the tenant written notice of rent increase at least 90 days before the day the rent increase starts. The notice must tell the tenant how much the new rent will be and when to begin paying the new rent. If the tenant thinks that the new rent is too high, the tenant can give the landlord written notice of termination and move out before the rent increase begins.
Q. If a tenant is late with their rent, what can the landlord do?

A. If a tenant does not pay rent on the date that it is due, the landlord can give the tenant a Notice to End a Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent the day after the rent was due. If a tenant pays rent monthly, this notice gives the tenant 14 days to pay the rent due or to move out. If the rent is not paid, and the tenant does not move, the landlord can apply to the LTB for an order that:

  • requires the tenant to pay the rent that is owing, and
  • evicts the tenant if they do not make the entire payment by a deadline

If a tenant is often late with the rent, the landlord can give a Notice to Terminate a Tenancy at the End of Term. Daily or weekly tenants must be given notice 28 days before the end of their lease or rental period. In all other cases, the tenant must be given notice 60 days before the end of their lease or rental period.

The landlord can apply to the LTB for an order evicting the tenant right after giving the tenant the Notice to Terminate a Tenancy at the End of Term. A hearing will be held and both sides will have a chance to give their side of the story.

For more information, see the brochure: If a Tenant Does Not Pay Rent.

Rent Deposits and Other Charges
Q. Can a landlord collect a rent deposit?

A. A landlord can collect a rent deposit as long as they ask for it on or before the day that the landlord and tenant enter into the tenancy agreement. The rent deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent or the rent for one rental period, whichever is less. For example, if rent payments are made weekly, the deposit cannot be more than one week’s rent; if rent payments are made monthly, the deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent.

The rent deposit must be used for the rent for the last month before the tenancy ends. It cannot be used for anything else, such as to pay for damages.

Q. Can a landlord ask for a deposit for keys?

A. Yes, but only if:

  • the deposit is refundable, and
  • the amount of the deposit is not more than the expected cost of replacing the key(s) if they are not returned to the landlord.

The landlord must give the deposit back when the tenant turns in their key(s) at the end of their tenancy.

Q. Can the landlord charge for additional or replacement keys?
A. The landlord can charge a tenant for additional keys that the tenant requests (for example, if the tenant wants an extra key or if the tenant has lost their key), but the charge cannot be more than the actual cost of the keys.
Q. Can the landlord charge the tenant a damage deposit?

A. No. A landlord cannot collect a damage deposit to pay for damage done to the unit. Also, a landlord cannot use the last month’s rent deposit to cover damages in the unit. The rent deposit can only be used for last month’s rent before the tenancy ends.

If the landlord finds that a tenant has damaged the unit or caused damage to the building, the landlord can give the tenant a notice of termination and/or ask them to pay for the damages. If the tenant doesn’t pay, the landlord can apply to have the LTB determine if there are damages and what should be done about them.

Q. Can a landlord charge a fee if a tenant’s rent cheque is returned NSF?
A. If a tenant’s rent cheque is returned NSF, a landlord can ask the tenant to pay for the charges the landlord has to pay to the bank, plus an administrative charge of up to $20. Landlords can also claim any NSF cheque charges if they apply to the LTB for arrears of rent.
Q. Can I withhold rent because my landlord isn’t properly maintaining my building or unit?
A. No. If you withhold rent, the landlord can give you a notice of termination for non-payment of rent and then file an application to evict you.
Q. What should I do if repairs are needed to my building or unit?

A. 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, see the brochure: Maintenance and Repairs.

Q. Can I pay my rent to the LTB if my landlord isn’t properly maintaining my building or unit?

A. If you file a Tenant Application about Maintenance with the LTB, you can ask to pay some or all of your rent to the LTB instead of the landlord until your application has been decided.

Complete theRequest to Pay Rent to the Board on a Tenant Application about Maintenance. You will have to justify why you are not paying the landlord directly. The LTB will decide whether to grant your request.

Q. What can I do if my landlord does not turn on the heat?

A. If the landlord is responsible for providing heat and the landlord does not keep the unit heated to at least to 20 degrees Celsius from September 1 to June 15, you can call the Investigation and Enforcement Unit (IEU), of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing at 1-888-772-9277 or 416-585-7214. By not providing a vital service, the landlord may be committing an offence.

The IEU can:

  • arrange for an inspection of the property for any maintenance standard violations, and
  • issue a provincial work order that requires the landlord to make repairs by a deadline.

For more information, see the brochure: Maintenance and Repairs.

Q. My landlord applied to evict me for not paying my rent, but I have maintenance issues I want to raise. What can I do?

A. You can raise your maintenance issues at the hearing. The LTB can make an order to get the issue fixed.

Before the hearing, you should let your landlord know that you are going to raise these issues. You can do this in writing, or by talking to the landlord in person or by phone.

At the hearing, bring any people you want to use as witnesses plus three copies of any evidence (for example, receipts or pictures).

For more information, see the brochure Issues a Tenant Can Raise at a Hearing about a Landlord’s Application for Non-payment of Rent.

Tenants who have maintenance issues can also file a Tenant Application about Maintenance.

Entering a Tenant’s Unit
Q. Can a landlord enter a tenant’s unit?
A. A landlord can only enter a tenant’s unit in specific circumstances. In most cases, the landlord must first give the tenant 24 hours written notice, stating when they will enter and for what reason. There are some exceptions to this requirement, for example, in case of emergency. For more information see the brochure: A Guide to the Residential Tenancies Act.
Q. Can I refuse to let the landlord in if the landlord wants to enter my unit?
A. If the landlord has a valid reason (as allowed by the RTA) for entering your unit, you cannot refuse to let the landlord in. If you don’t let the landlord in, the landlord can give you a notice of termination claiming that you are interfering with their lawful rights and you could be evicted. Also, interfering with a landlord’s lawful right is an offence under the RTA.
Q. What if my landlord enters my unit illegally?
A. If your landlord enters your unit illegally, you can file an Application about Tenant Rights with the LTB. If the LTB decides that the landlord entered the unit illegally, the member could order that you receive a rent reduction, that the landlord pay a fine, or some other remedy.
Ending a Tenancy (How a tenant can end a tenancy)
Q. How much notice does a tenant have to give if they want to move out?

A. When a tenant decides to move, they must provide a written notice to the landlord. In most cases, the notice provided to the landlord must be at least 60 days before the last day of the rental period, or their lease.

For example, if it is a monthly tenancy that begins on the first day of each month and the tenant gives the landlord notice on June 15, the termination date would be August 31.

In the case of a weekly or daily tenancy, the tenant must give the landlord at least 28 days’ notice before the last day of the final week of the tenancy.

For more information see the brochure: How a Tenant Can End Their Tenancy.

Q. Can a tenant break a lease?

A. “Breaking a lease” means that a tenant wants to leave their unit before their tenancy agreement is over. For example, a tenant who signed a one year lease might want to move out after eight months.

A tenant and landlord can agree to break a lease. It is best if this agreement is in writing and signed by the landlord and the tenant. If the landlord is not willing to break the lease, the tenant can assign the unit to a new tenant with the landlord’s consent.

For more information see the brochure: How a Tenant Can End Their Tenancy.

Q. What is the difference between assigning and subletting a unit?

A. Assigning a unit means that the tenant moves out of the unit permanently and transfers their tenancy to another person. All the terms of the original rental agreement stay the same – for example, the amount of the rent and what services are included.

Subletting a unit means that the tenant moves out of the unit for a period of time but plans to move back in before the end of the tenancy. The person who moves in is known as a subtenant. That person pays the rent to the original tenant who then pays it to the landlord.

A tenant must have the landlord’s approval to assign or sublet the unit, but the landlord must have a good reason to refuse.

For more information see the brochure: How a Tenant Can End Their Tenancy.

Q. What happens if a tenant assigns or sublets their unit without the landlord’s consent?
A. If a tenant assigns or sublets their unit without their landlord’s consent, it is an unauthorized assignment or sublet. A landlord can file an Application about a Sublet or an Assignment to evict both the tenant and the unauthorized occupant. However, if the landlord does not file the application within 60 days of discovering the unauthorized occupant, the unauthorized occupant becomes a tenant.
Ending a Tenancy (How a landlord can evict a tenant)
Q. What is the process for evicting a tenant?

A. In most situations, before a landlord can apply to the LTB to evict the tenant, they must first give the tenant a notice of termination that tells the tenant the reason they are being evicted. For some termination notices, the landlord must wait a specific number of days to see if the tenant corrects the problem before they can file an application with the LTB. The number of days the tenant has to correct the problem is included in the notice.

If the tenant does not correct the problem and/or does not move out, the landlord can file an application with the LTB. In most situations a hearing will be scheduled. At the hearing, the member listens to the landlord and the tenant and then makes a decision.

If an eviction order is issued, it tells the tenant when they must be out of the unit. If they do not move out, then the landlord can file this order with the Court Enforcement Office (also called the Sheriff). Only the Court Enforcement Office can evict a tenant.

Q. Can a tenant be evicted without a hearing?

A. Yes, for L3 and L4 applications, an order can be issued without holding a hearing. This is called an ex parte order. If an eviction order is issued, it tells the tenant when they must be out of the unit. If they do not move out, then the landlord can file this order with the Court Enforcement Office (also called the Sheriff). Only the Court Enforcement Office can evict a tenant.

Q. Can a tenant be evicted in the winter?

A. Yes. There is nothing in the RTA that prevents a tenant from being evicted during the winter.

Q. Can a landlord evict a tenant in the middle of their lease?

A. A landlord can evict a tenant in the middle of their tenancy agreement in certain situations– usually where the tenant or someone the tenant let into their building, has done something wrong. For example, the tenant has not paid their rent or has damaged the rental property.

The reasons for evicting a tenant are explained in the brochure: A Guide to the Residential Tenancies Act.

Q. Can a landlord evict a tenant for having a pet?

A. A tenant can be evicted for having a pet in their unit only if:

  • the pet is making too much noise, damaging the unit, or causing other residents to have an allergic reaction
  • the animal or species is considered to be inherently dangerous.

This is true even if the tenancy agreement has a “no pets” rule.

Q. Can a tenant be evicted for having a roommate?

A. No, a tenant cannot be evicted simply for having a roommate. However, a tenant may be evicted if the roommate is causing a problem for the landlord or for other tenants. For example, if the roommate is making a lot of noise, damaging the unit, or there are too many roommates (overcrowding), the landlord can serve a notice of termination and apply to evict the tenant and any other occupants of the unit.

Q. Can a tenant be evicted if the landlord wants to use the unit themselves?

A. Yes, a tenant can be evicted if a landlord requires the unit for:

  • their own use
  • the use of an immediate family member
  • the use of a person who will provide care services to the landlord or a member of the landlord’s immediate family, who is living in the same building or complex

Once the landlord gives the tenant a notice terminating the tenancy for one of these reasons, they can apply to the LTB for an order evicting the tenant. However, a tenant can only be evicted at the end of their tenancy and only if the LTB issues an eviction order.

Q. Can a tenant be evicted if the landlord sells the house or building and the person who bought it wants to move in?

A. Yes, but only if the building has 1-3 units and the person buying the building needs the rental unit for:

  • their own use
  • the use of an immediate family member
  • the use of a person who will provide care services to the landlord or a member of the landlord’s immediate family, who is living in the same building or complex

Once the landlord gives the tenant a notice terminating the tenancy for one of these reasons, they can apply to the LTB for an order evicting the tenant. The tenant can only be evicted if the LTB issues an eviction order.

Q. What can I do if my landlord gives me a Notice of Termination?

A. Read the notice to see why and when the landlord is asking you to leave. You may want to:

  • talk to the landlord about the notice and correct any problems, if possible.
  • leave the unit.
  • stay in the unit and see if the landlord files an application with the LTB. You will have a chance to explain the situation at a hearing.

You have the right to stay in your unit until the LTB issues an eviction order.