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Posted on February 21st 2006 in Legal Articles

Landlord and Tenant Law 101

Landlord and Tenant Law 101

Many of our clients are either landlords or tenants and therefore we thought it would be helpful to put together an overview of the key aspects of the law respecting this relationship.

The Tenant Protection Act sets out the rules that regulate the relationship of residential landlords and tenants. In addition to the legislation, the lease sets out terms and conditions of the tenancy. If a provision of the lease conflicts with the Tenant Protection Act, the Act will override that portion of the lease. However, if the unit is a condominium unit, then the Corporation’s declaration will override the Act.

While it may be stating the obvious, it is important to remember that a lease is just another word for contract between a landlord and a tenant.

A landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the lease within 21 days of the parties signing the agreement.

At the end of the lease term, usually 12 months, a lease automatically renews on a month to month basis. A tenant is not required to sign a new lease.
A landlord cannot require post-dated cheques.

A landlord must pay the tenant 6 per cent per year on a tenant’s security deposit.

If a tenant was living in his or her unit prior to the Tenant Protection Act coming into force (June 1, 1998), then the lawful rent is the rent charged on the day before the Act came into force. In the case of a new tenant, the lawful rent is the rent first charged to that tenant. In other words, a landlord, in the latter case, can set the rent at the rate that the market will bear.

A landlord may increase a tenant’s rent once every 12 months. A written notice must be provided to the tenant 90 days prior to the increase. Generally, the increase may not exceed the annual guideline which is determined by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. (The guideline for 2001 is 2.9%.)

A landlord may increase the rent at any time, if the landlord and tenant agree that additional services will be added, such as a parking space, cable television, storage space, an air conditioner, etc.

A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining the rented premises and common areas in a good state of repair. The tenant is responsible for repairing any damage caused by the tenant or his or her guests.

Entry by Landlord
A landlord may enter a tenant’s unit in order to affect repairs. The landlord must provide a written notice at least 24 hours before the entry. The notice must specify the date and time of the entry. The entry must take place between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. The landlord is entitled to enter the unit regardless of whether the tenant is home.

A landlord may enter a tenant’s unit at any time and without written notice, in the case of an emergency.

If a tenant has given notice to vacate, the landlord may enter the unit without written notice in order to show the unit to a prospective tenant. However, the landlord must make a reasonable effort to inform the tenant of the intention to enter the unit. The entry must be between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Tenants are allowed to keep pets in their unit. Lease provisions to the contrary are void.

Termination by Tenant
If a tenant wishes to vacate the unit, he or she must provide the landlord with a written notice, 60 days before the date of termination. During the first year, the earliest a tenant can give this notice is 60 days prior to the end of the lease, unless the landlord agrees otherwise.

If a tenant must leave prior to the end of the lease, the tenant must find someone to take over the balance of the lease. This is referred to as an assignment of a lease. In order to assign the lease, the tenant must obtain the landlord’s consent. If the landlord withholds consent, the tenant may give a notice of termination within 30 days after the date the request was made. Except for the landlord’s reasonable out of pocket expenses, the landlord cannot charge for the consent.

Termination by Landlord
The landlord cannot terminate the lease except for the reasons listed in the Act. These reasons include:
– nonpayment of rent;
– persistent late payment of rent;
– wilful damage to the unit or building;
– substantial interference by the tenant with the enjoyment of other tenants;
– impairment of the safety of other tenants;
– the landlord requires the unit for his or his family’s own occupancy (this applies only to single family homes and three-unit (or less) buildings);
– the landlord intends to demolish, convert to another use or make extensive renovations to the unit.

If the tenant does not voluntarily leave, the landlord must make an application to the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal. The sheriff, not the landlord, is the only person entitled to physically evict a tenant.

In addition to the above, the Tenant Protection Act sets out the procedures for eviction, additional rent increases as well as rent abatements. For further information about the Act tenants may wish to consult the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations at (416) 921-9494 or torontotenants.org. Landlords can call (416) 504-5190 or can go online at landlordselfhelp.com.