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Housing Frequently Asked Questions

The Kingston Community Legal Clinic thanks the Queen’s Law Pro Bono Students Canada chapter 2011 for creating the following frequently asked questions.

What is the Residential Tenancies Act?

The landlord and tenant relationship is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act. It is the law that describes the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords in Ontario.

Is everyone covered by the Residential Tenancies Act?

There are certain situations which are excluded from the Residential Tenancies Act. This means that the same rights and responsibilities may not apply to certain kinds of tenancies. This is a complex legal question and tenants should contact the legal clinic to determine if their tenancy is protected.

Does a landlord have to give notice to enter an apartment?

A landlord must give proper notice to enter an apartment, unless it is an emergency. For maintenance and inspections, a landlord must provide 24 hour written notice to enter. The notice must state the date and time of entry and the purpose of the entry.

In certain circumstances, the landlord does not have to give 24 hour written notice. These include: showing the property to a prospective purchaser or, to a prospective tenant if you gave notice that you are moving.

What is a Notice of Termination 

A Notice of Termination is a form that a landlord gives to a tenant if they would like to start an eviction process. It can list a number of reasons for eviction, including non-payment of rent, damage, illegal act or disruptive behaviour. There are also a number of “no-fault” notices of termination such as the owner of the property or a purchaser of the property want to move into the unit. A tenant may dispute the Notice of Termination and remain in the unit. The landlord may then file for an eviction hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board. The Board will then decide if the tenancy is to be terminated. If you receive a Notice of Termination or have an upcoming eviction hearing, contact the Legal Clinic for legal advice.

Does a landlord have to provide a tenant with contact information?

A landlord must provide a tenant with their legal name and address.

Can a landlord ask a tenant to pay a rent deposit?

A landlord is allowed to ask a tenant to pay a rent deposit that is no greater than one month’s rent or the rent for one rental period, whichever is less.

Does a tenant have to pay a damage deposit when moving into a new unit?

A landlord cannot ask for a damage deposit.

Can a landlord ask for a key deposit?

A landlord can ask for a key deposit only if it is refundable and is equal to the expected cost of replacing the keys.

Can a landlord increase the rent while a tenant lives in the unit?

A landlord is allowed to increase rent once every 12 months while a tenant lives in the unit. The amount of increase is decided by the government and is different each year. The landlord must give 90 days written notice of a future rent increase.

Does a landlord have to pay interest on a rent deposit?

A tenant is entitled to interest each year if they paid a last month’s rent deposit. The amount of interest is decided by the government and is different each year.

Does a landlord have to provide rent receipts?

Yes, a landlord must provide receipts for any payment that a tenant makes, if the tenant requests it. It is an offence for a landlord to refuse to provide a receipt.

Can a tenant change the locks on their rental unit? Can a landlord change the locks on a rental unit?

If a tenant changes the locks on their rental unit, they must provide a copy of the key to their landlord.

A landlord must also provide a copy of the key to their tenant if they change the locks.

Can a tenant withhold the rent if the landlord does not maintain the unit?

No, a tenant cannot withhold the rent. The landlord will be entitled to serve the tenant with an eviction notice if rent is not paid. If you are concerned that your landlord is not maintaining the rental unit, contact the Legal Clinic.

Can a tenant be evicted because of the bad behaviour of their guest?

Yes, a landlord is allowed to try and evict a tenant for something their guest did in their rental unit. For example, if a guest causes a large disturbance, the landlord may give the tenant a termination notice for this disturbance.

What are my rights if I did not sign a lease?

Landlords and tenants do not have to sign a written lease. A verbal agreement is still valid. With or without a lease agreement, the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords are governed by the Residential Tenancies Act.

How much notice must a tenant give to move?

A tenant has to give 60 days written notice to terminate their tenancy. The termination date must be the last day of the rental period or the lease.

Can a tenant be evicted in the winter-time?

Yes.

Is a tenant allowed to have a roommate?

Yes, a tenant is allowed to have a roommate. However, a landlord may be able to evict a tenant because of their roommate’s behaviour or because of overcrowding.

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