Whether you’re a property manager or a renter, knowing your rights and responsibilities when it comes to your apartment is extremely important. While it’s not reasonable or expected for everyone to know everything about the Landlord Tenant Act in their particular province, being aware of the basics to some of the most commonly asked questions will make for a harmonious rental experience for all involved. Before we delve into these frequently asked-about issues, remember that the laws in your province may differ from those we discuss here (for ease of explanation, we will focus on Ontario). If you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact your provincial Landlord and Tenant Board for more details regarding your specific issue.
One of the biggest questions tenants have when it comes to the Landlord Tenant Act has to do with privacy. More specifically, when and how landlords can enter your suite and how much notice they are required to give. In Ontario, the Act states that a landlord must give a tenant 24-hour written notice before entering your suite. This notice must include the time (it can legally be anywhere between 8 am and 8 pm) and the reason that they need to enter your suite. Routine maintenance, like changing filters in your HVAC system, is just one of the reasons a landlord would need to enter your suite. If it is an emergency, such as a water leak coming from your suite, the landlord does not need to provide you with any notice to enter.
Another common question for many animal lovers is if they are allowed to have a pet in their apartment. Ontario’s Landlord Tenant Act ensures that “no pet” clauses in a lease are invalid. This means that a landlord cannot force you to get rid of your pet even if it is written into your lease that you are not allowed to have one. However, this doesn’t mean animals have free reign in your apartment. If your pet is dangerous, causes allergic reactions in other tenants or causes problems in the building, you must get rid of your pet or move elsewhere. In extreme cases, the Landlord and Tenant Board may issue a written order that you must get rid of your pet. But if your beloved furry friend is not causing a problem for anyone, you are free to live happily in your apartment with your animal companion.
Issue: Lease Agreement
The majority of leases signed in Ontario will be for a duration of one year. When you are ready to vacate, your lease most likely stipulates that you must give a written notice 60 days in advance. If your lease expires and you have not signed a new one, your tenancy is considered “month-to-month” and the 60 day notice period still applies. If you give your notice late, you will still be responsible for paying for the extra month of rent. Your lease will also include important information specific to your building and apartment, such as legal information about using an on-site gym, for example. It may be a dry read, but the information contained in your lease agreement is very important.
Now that you’ve signed your lease, you’re probably wondering if you even need to bother keeping a copy of it around. While the answer is technically no, it would be wise to have a copy on hand. You can refer to it throughout your tenancy, specifically if you have a question about what is allowed and what isn’t (like if you can paint the walls, for example). If there is ever a dispute between you and your landlord down the road, having signed documentation on hand will help to protect you. The same can be said for any written notices you may receive from your landlord, like warnings about late rent or information regarding when they will be entering your suite to perform maintenance work.
The amount you pay each month in rent will be written into your lease agreement. The Landlord Tenant Act in Ontario states that a landlord has the right to raise your rent every 12 months, but they must give you a written notice of 90 days before doing so. However, your rent won’t be raised to any number the landlord wants – the Annual Guideline Increase ensures that your rent can only be raised by a certain amount each year, as set out by the Government of Ontario. Your specific lease may have perks attached that will prevent you from being subject to a rent increase, such as signing a lease that is longer than the typical one year.
Finally, the issue of eviction can be a thorny one. Hopefully it is not one that you will ever have to deal with, but there are cases that can be grounds for your tenancy being terminated earlier than your lease stipulates. This can include non-payment of your monthly rent, the use of your apartment to conduct illegal activity or the impairment of the safety and enjoyment of other tenants in the building based on your actions or the actions of your guests. Quite simply, this issue has many variables and permutations. If you receive a Notice of Termination, it is imperative that you contact the Landlord and Tenant Board in your province immediately for guidance.
The RentSeeker.ca Team