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Landlord and Tenant Matters
Residential Tenancies Act

  • Explains the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants who rent residential (not commercial) properties in Ontario
  • Protects tenants from illegal rent increases and evictions, and tries to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants

    Landlords and tenants of most rental units are covered by most of the rules in the Act. A rental unit can be an apartment, a house, or a room in a rooming or boarding house. The Act also applies to care homes, retirement homes, and sites in a mobile home park or land lease community.

    The Ontario Human Rights Code makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants because of race, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, colour, nationality, religion, or the country where you were born.

    Landlords cannot discriminate against tenants with a disability, if tenants are receiving public assistance, or have children living with them.

    Tenancy Agreements
    A written agreement (also called a tenancy agreement or a lease) is a contract between a landlord and tenant in which the tenant agrees to pay rent for the right to live in a rental unit provided by the landlord. In the agreement, the landlord and tenant may also promise to do certain things for each other and to follow certain rules.

    Not all landlords and tenants have to have a written agreement or lease. A tenancy agreement can be a written one or an oral one (that is, verbal, not written).

    Once the tenant signs and hands the agreement to the landlord, the landlord must, within 21 days after receiving the signed agreement from the tenant, give a copy of it to the tenant.

    If there is no signed agreement between the tenant and the landlord, the landlord must, within 21 days after the tenancy begins, give to the tenant a written notice with the landord's legal name and address.

    The landlord cannot increase the rent for a new tenant until 12 months after the tenancy started. Then, the landlord is allowed to increase the rent once every 12 months.

    In most cases, a landlord can only increase a tenant's rent by the guideline set each year by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Each year the Ontario government announces the province's rent increase guideline for the following year.

    Call the Landlord and Tenant Board (1-888-332-3234) or the Elgin-Oxford Legal Clinic (1-866-611-2311) for more information on the Guideline.

    The tenant must be given proper written notice of the rental increase at least 90 days before the rent increase takes effect. The notice must tell the tenant how much the new rent will be and when to begin paying the new rent.

    A tenant can ask for a receipt for any payment or deposit the tenant gives to the landlord. It is an offence for a landlord to fail to provide a rent receipt when one is requested by a tenant.

    Rent Deposits and other Charges
    A landlord can collect a rent deposit if it is requested on or before the day that the landlord and tenant enter into the tenancy agreement, or lease. The rent deposit cannot be more than one month's rent or the rent for one rental period, whichever is less.

    The rent deposit must be used for the rent for the last month before the tenancy ends. It cannot be used for anything else, such as to pay for damages.

    The landlord must pay the tenant interest on the rent deposit every 12 months. The amount of interest that a landlord must pay is the same as the rent increase guideline that is in effect when the interest payment is due.

    Maintenance and Repair
    It is the landlord's responsibility to take care of the unit and ensure that it is in a good state of repair, even if:

  • the tenant knew of problems in the unit before they moved into it, or,
  • the landlord puts into the written agreement or lease that the tenant is responsible for maintenance.

    However, the tenant is responsible for keeping the unit clean. The tenant is also responsible for repairing or paying for any damage caused by the tenant, a guest or anyone else living there.

    If there is maintenance problem, a tenant should:
  • First talk to the landlord and let the landlord know what the problems are.
  • The tenant should also put all the problems in writing and give this to the landlord or the person that takes care of these problems (for example, the superintendent or property manager).

    If the landlord refuses to do the repairs or the tenant thinks that the landlord is taking too long to deal with them, the tenant can do two things:
  • report the problem to the local government OR the Investigation and Enforcement Unit (IEU)
  • file an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board (for more information on this and other applications, please call the Board or the Elgin-Oxford Legal Clinic)

    Below are the Elgin and Oxford Counties municipalities with a local number to call:

    Elgin County
    Aylmer (Town of) 519-773-3164
    Bayham (Municipality)519-866-5521
    Central Elgin (Municipality of) 519-631-4860
    Dutton/Dunwich (Municipality of) 519-762-2204
    Malahide (Township of) 519-773-5344
    Southwold (Township of) 519-769-2010
    St. Thomas (City of) 519-631-1680 ext. 4160
    West-Elgin (Municipality of) 519-785-0560

    Oxford County
    Blandford-Blenheim (Township of) 519-463-5347
    Ingersoll (Town of) 519-485-0120
    Norwich (Township of) 519-863-2709
    South-West Oxford (Township of) 519-485-0477
    Tillsonburg (Town of) 519-842-9200 ext. 2235
    Woodstock (City of) 519-539-2382 ext. 3161 or 3160
    Zorra (Township of) 519-485-2490
    Zorra-East-Tavistock (Township of) 519-462-2697

    If the community does not have a maintenance, property or housing standards bylaw, than the tenant should report the problem to The Investigation and Enforcement Unit (IEU) of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. You can call the IEU toll-free at 1-888-772-9277

    Entering the Rental Unit
    A landlord CAN enter a tenant's rental unit without a written notice if:

  • there is an emergency such as a fire
  • the tenant agrees to let the landlord in
  • a care home tenant has agreed in writing that the landlord can come in to check on their condition at regular intervals.

  • A landlord CAN enter a rental unit without a written notice, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. if:
  • the rental agreement requires the landlord to clean the unit unless the agreement allows different hours for cleaning
  • the landlord or tenant has given a notice of termination, or they have an agreement to end the tenancy, and the landlord wants to show the unit to a potential new tenant (in this case, although notice is not required, the landlord must try to tell the tenant before entering for this reason).

  • A landlord can enter the rental unit between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and only if they have given the tenant 24 hours written notice:
  • to fix or inspect the unit
  • to allow a potential mortgagee or insurer of the complex to view the unit
  • to allow a potential buyer to view the rental unit
  • to allow an engineer, architect or other similar professional to make an inspection for a proposed conversion under the Condominium Act; or for any reason allowed by the rental agreement.

  • A tenant CANNOT change the locks unless the landlord agrees. Also, the tenant CANNOT add locks that might stop a landlord from entering the unit if there is an emergency or if the landlord has a good reason for entering the rental unit and the landlord has given the tenant proper notice to enter.

    Ending a Tenancy
    When a tenant decides to move, they must provide a written notice of termination to the landlord. In most cases, this is a 60-day notice. The termination date must be the last day of their rental period or their lease, even if this is more than 60 days.

    A tenant and landlord can agree to break a lease. It is best for both parties if this agreement is in writing and is signed by the landlord and the tenant. If the landlord does not want to end the lease, the tenant has the right to assign or sublet the unit to a new tenant with the landlord's permission.

    A landlord can only evict a tenant for legitimate reasons found under the Act, such as rent arrears and damage to the rental unit. An eviction can be carried out only by the Sherriff's Office and only after the receiving an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board.

    You must be aware of the following information regarding evictions:

  • It is illegal for your landlord to lock you out or evict you without first getting an eviction order from the Landlord and Tenant Board.
  • If you have received a NOTICE TO TERMINATE A TENACY, you do not have to leave if you do not agree with the reason , Get legal advice right away.
  • If you have received an APPLICATION TO TERMINATE A TENACY , you will be required to appear before the Board and provide evidence against your eviction.
  • If you do not attend the hearing, the Board will likely make an order for your eviction.
  • If the Board orders your eviction and you do not move out, only the Sheriff can make you leave. After a Sheriff evicts you, you have 72 hours to claim your belongings from the unit.
  • The landlord must make him- or herself available for contact before the 72 hours elapse.

  • Contact Information

    Elgin Oxford Legal Clinic
    PO Box 517
    98 Centre St.
    St. Thomas, Ontario
    N5P 3V6
    Phone: (519) 633-2638
    Toll Free: 1-866-611-2311
    Fax: (519) 633-7624

    Landlord and Tenant Board
    Toll Free: 1-800-332-3242
    Web Site:

    The Board can be contacted for application forms and general information about landlord and tenant issues. The Board cannot and does not give legal advice.

    Investigation and Enforcement Unit
    Toll Free: 1-888-772-9277

    Legal Aid Ontario
    Web Site:

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