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Rights and responsibilities

As a tenant, what do you have a right to?
  • A safe home: Your home must be safe and in good repair. This is true even if you knew about the problems before you agreed to rent the home.

  • Vital services: You must have access to heat, hot and cold water, electricity, and fuel (such as natural gas). Your landlord cannot shut off these services under any circumstances other than a brief period of time to make repairs. Your landlord might pay for all or some vital services, or you might pay for them.

  • Heat: Your landlord must heat your home from September 1st to June 15th. In Toronto, the landlord has to keep the heat at 21°C minimum. There are no legal rules about cooling in the summer.

  • Privacy: Your landlord can enter your home only for certain reasons. For example, your landlord can enter your home to make repairs or show the home to possible tenants or in an emergency.

  • Controlled rent increases: Your landlord may raise your rent once in a 12-month period, to an amount within legal limits.

  • Protection from unlawful eviction: You can be evicted for certain reasons only. If your landlord tries to evict you, you have the right to a hearing with the Landlord and Tenant Board.

  • Children in the home: You have the right to have children living in your home. Your children and family have the right to make a "reasonable" amount of noise.
  • Documents: You have a right to a written copy of your tenancy agreement, written notice of your landlord's legal name and address, and rent receipts.

What is required of your landlord?
  • S/he must give you their name and contact information that s/he can be reached at in case of emergency, maintenance problems, etc. We encourage you to put all requests in writing.

  • S/he must give you a signed copy of the lease within 21 days of signing the lease; otherwise you can withhold your rent until you receive it. Once you get a copy of the lease, you must pay any outstanding rent.

  • S/he is responsible for ensuring the rental unit complies with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards which have been established to ensure rental units meet minimum standards. You do not have to take an apartment “as is” — you can request maintenance and your landlord is responsible for making repairs to bring it up to standard.

  • S/he may not withhold or deliberately interfere with any vital services that s/he is obligated to provide, including hydro, gas, heat and water

  • S/he cannot make you sign a lease after you have moved in. If you do not have to sign one before you move in, then they cannot insist you sign one later on.

  • S/he is legally required to give you a document entitled “Information for New Tenants” on or before your new tenancy begins. This document is issued by the Landlord and Tenant Board (L&TB) and outlines your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and contact info for the L&TB.

  • S/he may not ask for a security deposits or damage deposit (they are not legal in Ontario). If you pay a deposit, it may only be applied as last month’s rent.

  • Ensure that you know when you will be receiving the keys to the unit. The landlord should turn over the key to your unit when you pay the deposit and/or sign the lease. Always test the key in the door.

What are you responsible for as a tenant?
  • Keeping your home clean. You have to keep your home in a way that most people think is clean.

  • Repairing damage that you cause. Fix anything that you or your guests damage or break.

  • Being reasonably quiet. Do not disturb others who live in your building.

  • Obeying the law. For example, you must follow the by-laws your city has about over-crowding. This means you cannot have more people living in your unit than is allowed.

  • Honouring your lease agreement. Follow the terms in your lease. If your lease has conditions that break the rules in the Residential Tenancies Act, you do not have to follow those conditions.

  • Paying your rent on-time. Pay the full amount of your rent by the day that you agreed to in your lease.

    • Landlords cannot require that you pay rent by post-dated cheques, but you may choose to do so as it is an easy option. Landlords must accept if you choose to pay your rent in cash on the day it is due.

    • Landlords cannot require you to pay your rent in advance, excepting first and last month’s rent.