Tenant’s Rights in Ontario: What Can I Expect?
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As a tenant, you are entitled to certain rights both before you sign the lease, and while you are renting from the landlord. What should you expect during the rental process?

If you are a renter, you may wonder what a tenant’s rights in Ontario actually are, what you can expect before you rent and after you move in, and what resources are available to you. Here’s a quick summary.

Before You Rent

In Ontario, it is illegal for a landlord to discriminate against you because of the following factors:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability

The landlord does have the right to request rental history, credit references and/or credit checks. The landlord may also request information about your current income; however, that information should be limited to a confirmation that you have a sufficient regular income to pay rent.

While You Are Renting

As a tenant, you have certain rights while you are renting from your landlord, including:

  • The right to live in a home that is safe and in good repair. In other words, your living quarters must meet certain government-mandated standards of health, safety, and maintenance.
  • The right to vital services, such as water, heat, and electricity. It is illegal for your landlord to shut off these services, even if you have not paid rent.
  • The right to heat. Your landlord is required to ensure that your residence is heated from September 1st to June 15th, at a threshold of at least 20 degrees Celsius.
  • The right to privacy. Your landlord can only enter your home for certain reasons.
  • The right to pay reasonable rent. Your landlord can only raise your rent once in a 12-month period, and only within certain legally established limits.
  • The right to raise a family. Your children have the same rights to live in your home as you do.
  • The right to certain documents. You have the right to receive a copy of your rental contract or agreement, your landlord’s contact information, and receipts from rent payments.

Entering a rental unit and physical distancing

A landlord can only enter a tenant’s unit in specific circumstances. In most cases, the landlord must:

  • give the tenant 24 hours written notice
  • state what day and time they will enter (between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.)
  • state the reason for entering the unit

There are some exceptions to this requirement, for example, in case of emergency. If the landlord has a valid reason for entering the unit, a tenant cannot refuse to let the landlord in.

Available Resources

If any issues arise between you and your landlord, it is important to document everything carefully. Also, there are many resources available to you that can assist you in securing your rights as a tenant, such as your City Councillor, or community legal clinics.

What to do if you’re locked out

It is illegal for a landlord to change the locks to a rental unit or the building, without giving the tenant a key for the new locks. If you are a tenant and a landlord has locked you out, or is threatening to lock you out, contact the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit:

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