Unscrupulous Landlords: What Ontario Tenants Need To Know
The increasing cost of home ownership in Canada means that many people cannot afford to buy a house. According to the International Monetary Fund, Canada is one of the most expensive places in the world to buy property and is 85 percent above the global average when comparing housing to rent. While many Ontario tenants have no problems with their lease, some people end up with a landlord who regularly breaks the rules. Learn more about your rights as a tenant in Ontario, and some of the key restrictions that the law places on landlords.
Landlords and tenants must have a formal agreement when a new tenancy commences. This agreement (known as a lease) is normally in writing, but you can also have a verbal agreement. If your landlord asks you to sign a written agreement, he or she must give you a copy, and, if your agreement is verbal, the landlord must still give you written notice of his or her legal name and address.
Verbal agreements can make it very difficult to deal with any disputes, so try to get a landlord to sign a written agreement with you. You should keep copies of all documents related to your lease, including bank statements (showing your payments) and any letters that the landlord sends you. These documents may become vital if you ever have a dispute with the landlord.
Once you have signed a lease, a landlord cannot enter your property without giving notice. He or she must give you at least 24 hours' written notice, and must also give a reasonable time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The landlord doesn't need to give you a good reason to come in, and can just ask to check the property. If there is an emergency, the landlord does not need to give notice.
If you and the landlord have agreed to terminate the tenancy, your landlord may enter the property without notice to show the unit to a prospective tenant. The landlord must make a reasonable attempt to contact you, and should still only visit at a reasonable time.
'No pets' clause
Some landlords will include a 'no pets' clause in the lease. These clauses are not valid under the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, even if you sign the agreement. The landlord can only give you notice to get rid of the pet or move out if the animal is dangerous, causes allergic reactions or causes a nuisance for other tenants.
Your landlord must make essential repairs to your property, within a reasonable timescale. Always put your request in writing, and keep a copy of the letter. If the landlord fails to make a repair, you can contact your local Building Inspector, who will issue a report to confirm the details of the necessary repair. In some cases, you may need to contact a lawyer to help you take the relevant action required to force your landlord to act.
Your landlord must issue a Notice of Termination if he or she wants you to leave the property. The landlord can evict you for many reasons, and may legally serve a notice if you:
- Fail to pay your rent on time (but the landlord must give you time to pay the rent before the date the notice takes effect)
- Provide false information for a subsidized property
- Commit an illegal act
- Damage the property on purpose
- Cause a nuisance for your neighbors
Landlords can also serve notice if they want to live in, demolish or convert the property. Unscrupulous landlords may use any of these reasons falsely to get somebody out of a property, so it's always important to seek legal advice as soon as you receive a Notice of Termination.
When you first enter into an agreement, the law does not limit how much a landlord can charge you for the rent. It is up to you if you decide to pay the amount requested. After this, he or she may only increase the rent once a year, and must give you 90 days' written notice of the change.
The Canadian government sets an Annual Guideline Increase, which limits any increase that your landlord makes. Landlords can apply for a special increase above this threshold if they need to make special repairs or renovations. They must also send you a written copy of their application for this increase to the Landlord and Tenancy Board.
Many people rent their homes for financial reasons, or simply because they only need a property for a short period. Most landlords act within the law, but it's important to understand your rights if your landlord tries to break the law.
For additional information on handling legal procedures, visit Cantini Law Group Accident and Disability Lawyers.