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Landlord and Tenant Myths Debunked
Canada and the USA have specific laws governing residential tenancies which outline the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. The following information is based on the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act which is enforced by the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board.
For information specific to your province/territory or state, please Click Here .
Myths vs. Facts
Myth: The law only protects you if you have a signed lease or rental agreement.
Fact: Although it is advisable for your own protection to have your rental agreement in writing to outline the specifics of your tenancy, it is not mandatory. The laws regarding landlord and tenant responsibilities apply to every residential tenancy.
Myth: Landlords can refuse to rent because the tenant has a pet.
Fact: Tenants are responsible for paying for any damages caused by their pet, however a “no pet provision” in a lease is invalid. The landlord can terminate a tenancy if the pet causes serious problems for other tenants.
Note: A landlord also cannot discriminate based on gender, age (as long as you are legally able to sign a lease), race, cultural background, family situation, or marital status.
Myth: Tenants can withhold rent if the landlord does not make necessary repairs OR Tenants can make repairs themselves and present the landlord with a bill/deduction from rent.
Fact: Tenants must pay the rent or face eviction. If your landlord is refusing to make repairs, you can file a Maintenance and Repair application with the Landlord and Tenant Board and make your rent payments to the Board in trust.
Note: It is advisable to make repair requests to your landlord in writing and keep a copy of each letter. Providing dated photos of the damage will also better enforce your position.
Myth: Tenants cannot be evicted during winter months.
Fact: The law does not provide distinction between winter and any other time of the year for evictions.
Myth: Tenants must provide post-dated checks if your landlord asks for them.
Fact: The law states that tenants do not have to provide post-dated checks.
Myth: Landlords can enter a rental unit whenever they want.
Fact: Only in cases of emergency or when the tenant has given written consent. Otherwise, a landlord must give at least 24 hours written notice that they (or another person on their behalf) will be entering your unit. The notice must provide a valid reason and reasonable times between 8 AM and 8 PM.
Myth: Landlords can increase rent at any time by any amount.
Fact: The rent can only be increased once every 12 months as long as proper legal notice is given and it is within the percentage allowed by law.
Myth: Tenants must sign a lease renewal if the landlord requests it.
Fact: This is not required. If a renewal is not signed at the end of a lease term, the tenancy will be on a monthly.
Myth: Tenants can cancel their lease at any time, so long as they give 30 days notice.
Fact: A lease which indicates a specific period of time that the tenant will rent the unit (ie. 6 months, one year, etc.) means the tenant is legally responsible for the unit until the end of that time period. However, the tenant can find someone else to take over their lease and the landlord cannot “unreasonably or arbitrarily” refuse.
A monthly rental agreement requires 60 days notice with the exception of termination effective for the last day of February or March.
Weekly rentals are required to give a minimum of 28 days notice.
Myth: Tenants are not responsible for any damage or disturbance that their guests may cause.
Fact: If a guest purposely or accidentally damages the rental property, the tenant is legally responsible for repairing it. If a guest substantially interferes with other tenants, the landlord can terminate the tenancy.
Myth: Landlords can lock a tenant out of a rental unit.
Fact: A landlord cannot change the locks to keep a tenant out. The locks can be changed only by the Sheriff if an Eviction Order has been issued by the Landlord and Tenant Board (“the Tribunal”).
Myth: Landlords can seize a tenants belongings to pay for damages or rent owing.
Fact: Unless the Landlord and Tenant Board has found the tenant’s belongings to be abandoned, the landlord cannot lay claim to them.
Myth: Landlords don’t have to turn the heat on until the first snowfall.
Fact: Each municipality has its own by-laws regarding temperatures and when it is turned on. In general the heat must be turned on either September the 1st or 15th with a minimum setting of either 20 C (68 F) or 21 C (70 F), depending on the municipality. Please check the by-laws of your municipality for exact dates and temperatures.
Myth: Landlords don’t have to keep walkways and driveway clear of snow if the rental unit is in a house instead of an apartment building.
Fact: Each municipality has its own by-laws regarding this issue. Generally speaking, it is the landlord’s responsibility to keep the property maintained. This often includes keeping a path clear from each entrance to the sidewalk or road, as well as keep the driveway(s) clear of snow.
© 2011 I Am Rosa