It is important that you keep all records, particularly financial ones, because if there is ever trouble between you and the landlord, you have to be able to prove your position. Also, if the dispute goes further to the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board, commonly known as the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal, these documents will make or break your case.
Under the current “Residential Tenancies Act 2007” rent control only applies to tenants after the tenant has moved in, which means that landlords can charge a new tenant any amount of money. The landlord and tenant must decide how much the rent will be for a unit and which services will be included in the rent. The low vacancy rate for the GTA is making negotiating a lower rent more of a challenge.
Most of the time, the landlord cannot increase rent until after a year has passed from the time the tenant moves in. From that time, the landlord can increase your rent annually following the Annual Rent Increase Guideline. The guideline is set each year by the Ontario Government, and announced by August 31. The Annual Rent Increase Guideline is based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index and has been set at 2.0 percent for 2016. The 2016 guidelines apply to rent increases between January 1 and December 31, 2016.
A landlord cannot increase the rent more than by this amount without having to apply for approval from the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal.
The landlord can charge a rent deposit on or before the start of the rental agreement. If the rental period is less than a month, the rental deposit shall be the amount of payment for one rental period. For example, if rent is paid every two weeks, the rental deposit shall be two weeks rent. If the rental period is one month or more, the rental deposit shall be one month’s rent.
The rental deposit must only be used as payment for the last month or week period before the tenant moves out. It cannot be used for repairs and other services. If the rent goes up lawfully, the landlord can also request a larger rental deposit to remain consistent with the rent amount. The landlord must pay the tenant interest on the rent deposit each year equal to the rent increase guideline.
Post dated cheques and automatic payments
A landlord cannot require a tenant to pay by post-dated cheques or automatic payments, such as payments, which come out automatically from a debit account or credit card.
The landlord and tenant will agree upon a form of payment at the beginning of the tenancy agreement and this cannot change unless both the landlord and tenant agree.
By law, if you request, the Landlord must give you receipts for rent paid. In particular, if you are paying cash, you must get a receipt, as it is your only proof of payment. Landlords must provide the receipt for free.
Former tenants are entitled to a receipt before 12 months have passed from the ending of the rental agreement.
If you have signed a one-year lease then legally you are committed for that period. Unless you come to a mutual agreement with the Landlord to end your tenancy early, you are responsible for the rent for the duration of the lease, regardless of whether or not you are living there.
Though legally the Landlord cannot fine you for breaking a lease, generally if it means that the landlord will be agreeable to an early termination, it is cheaper to pay a small “administrative fee” than to pay for the duration of the lease. For tenants who do not have a lease, you are considered to have a “month-to-month” tenancy, and by law you still need to give 60 days notice before the end of the last month you live there.
Notice to Enter
When your landlord intends to enter your apartment, they must give you 24 hours notice as well as a reason for entering your unit. In cases of emergencies, if there is a written agreement specifying check ins on regular intervals, or when a notice to terminate a lease has been given, a landlord does not have to give any notice. If the landlord has given the tenant correct notice for a visit, they may enter even if the tenant is not home.
Once you have verbally requested repairs in your unit, request it again in writing, in the form of a letter with a date and signature. If your landlord still refuses, or avoids making the repairs, call your City Building Inspectors Office.
The following are some grounds that a landlord can legally use to serve an eviction notice:
- If your landlord personally needs the apartment to live in (this generally applies to single rooms in houses, or basement apartments);
- If the landlord plans to demolish, convert or extensively renovate the unit;
- If you did not pay your rent on time even after the landlord has given you a Notice of Termination, then landlord applies for an eviction notice from the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal;
- If you persistently pay your rent late, and have received a Notice of Termination;
- If you and/or your guests cause damage, and have not repaired or paid for those damages.
- If you and/or your guests impair the safety, or substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the building for other tenants.
- If your apartment is overcrowded breaking municipal by-laws, or health standards.
- If you and/or your guests partake in illegal acts or allow someone else to partake in illegal acts on the landlord’s property.
*All evictions will go to a hearing of The Landlord and Tenant Board