Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act & Student Housing - Your Rights As a Tenant

Monday, March 13, 2017
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The Ontario Residential Tenancies Act can be a pretty intimidating document for a student renter to try and understand. If you thought a lease was full of legal jargon, try comprehending the RTA! Nonetheless, the RTA is a document that every student renter should have a basic understanding of. Here is a translation of some key sections of the RTA and how they apply to student renters in Ontario.

Please note that we are not legal professionals at Places4Students.com and cannot provide legal advice. The following information is a basic overview and interpretation of the RTA, highlighting some important sections that relate to student renters.

1. Is it legal for a landlord in Ontario to use a “no-pets” clause?

The short answer is no. No-pets clauses or provisions are void in Ontario.

14. A provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void. 2006, c. 17, s. 14.

There are a few exceptions to this section. For example, in the case where a pet was causing substantial damage to a property and the tenant failed to prevent it or the pet was interfering with the peaceful enjoyment of other tenants in the accommodation. Another case would be where other tenants had severe allergic reactions to the pet.

2. Is a landlord required to give receipts for rent payments?

On request, landlords are required to supply rent receipts free of charge.

109. (1) A landlord shall provide free of charge to a tenant or former tenant, on request, a receipt for the payment of any rent, rent deposit, arrears of rent or any other amount paid to the landlord. 2006, c. 17, s. 109 (1).

3. What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can ask for?

Security deposits are not allowed in Ontario; only rent deposits are allowed. The rules regarding rent deposits are as follows:

106. (2) The amount of a rent deposit shall not be more than the lesser of the amount of rent for one rent period and the amount of rent for one month. 2006, c. 17, s. 106 (2).

4. Can a landlord prohibit or restrict tenants from having guests over?

Assuming this is a rental unit where there are no shared common areas between the landlord and the tenant, the landlord would not be able to prohibit a tenant from having guests over, as long as it didn’t interfere with other tenants' reasonable enjoyment.

22. A landlord shall not at any time during a tenant’s occupancy of a rental unit and before the day on which an order evicting the tenant is executed substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit or the residential complex in which it is located for all usual purposes by a tenant or members of his or her household. 2006, c. 17, s. 22.

5. Can a landlord prohibit a tenant's boyfriend or girlfriend from visiting or staying the night? 

Assuming the same as #4, a landlord cannot prohibit a boyfriend or girlfriend from coming over or staying the night. This pertains to the same section of the RTA in regards to reasonable enjoyment.

6. Can a landlord require a tenant to provide post-dated rent cheques? 

A landlord cannot require post-dated cheques as part of a tenancy agreement.

108. Neither a landlord nor a tenancy agreement shall require a tenant or prospective tenant to,
(a) provide post-dated cheques or other negotiable instruments for payment of rent; or
(b) permit automatic debiting of the tenant’s or prospective tenant’s account at a financial institution, automatic charging of a credit card or any other form of automatic payment for the payment of rent. 2006, c. 17, s. 108; 2009, c. 33, Sched. 21, s. 11 (3, 4).

7. Does the Residential Tenancies Act apply to on-campus housing, or housing owned and operated by a college or university?

The RTA does not apply to living accommodations provided by educational institutions.

Exemptions from Act:

5. This Act does not apply with respect to,
(g) living accommodation provided by an educational institution to its students or staff where,

(i) the living accommodation is provided primarily to persons under the age of majority, or all major questions related to the living accommodation are decided after consultation with a council or association representing the residents, and

(ii) the living accommodation does not have its own self-contained bathroom and kitchen facilities or is not intended for year-round occupancy by full-time students or staff and members of their households;

8. Does the Residential Tenancies Act apply to rental housing where there are shared areas with the property owner or landlord? 

If a student shares the rental accommodation with a landlord or the landlord’s immediate family member and there are shared bathroom or kitchen facilities, the RTA does not apply.

5. This Act does not apply with respect to,

(i) living accommodation whose occupant or occupants are required to share a bathroom or kitchen facility with the owner,the owner’s spouse, child or parent or the spouse’s child or parent, and where the owner, spouse, child or parent lives in the building in which the living accommodation is located;

9. How much notice must a landlord provide before entering a rental unit?

Generally speaking, a landlord must provide at least 24 hours of notice to the tenant(s) before entering a rental property, unless it’s one of the situations listed below in #10.

27. (1) A landlord may enter a rental unit in accordance with written notice given to the tenant at least 24 hours before the time of entry…

10. Under what circumstances can a landlord enter a rental property without providing proper notice?

There are only a few situations in which a landlord is legally allowed to enter a rental unit without providing notice. The three ones outlined in the RTA are for emergency purposes (i.e. fire), housekeeping and to show the rental to prospective tenants.

Entry without notice, emergency, consent:

26. (1) A landlord may enter a rental unit at any time without written notice,
(a) in cases of emergency; or
(b) if the tenant consents to the entry at the time of entry. 2006, c. 17, s. 26 (1).

Same, housekeeping:

(2) A landlord may enter a rental unit without written notice to clean it if the tenancy agreement requires the landlord to clean the rental unit at regular intervals and,
(a) the landlord enters the unit at the times specified in the tenancy agreement; or
(b) if no times are specified, the landlord enters the unit between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. 2006, c. 17, s. 26 (2).

Entry to show rental unit to prospective tenants:

(3) A landlord may enter the rental unit without written notice to show the unit to prospective tenants if,
(a) the landlord and tenant have agreed that the tenancy will be terminated or one of them has given notice of termination to the other;
(b) the landlord enters the unit between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.; and
(c) before entering, the landlord informs or makes a reasonable effort to inform the tenant of the intention to do so. 2006, c. 17, s. 26 (3).


11. If a tenant sublets the rental, is the original tenant still responsible for that rental (i.e. damages or rent payments)?

The original tenant is still responsible, even if the accommodation is subletted.

(4) If a tenant has sublet a rental unit to another person,

(a) the tenant remains entitled to the benefits, and is liable to the landlord for the breaches, of the tenant’s obligations under the tenancy agreement or this Act during the subtenancy; and

(b) the subtenant is entitled to the benefits, and is liable to the tenant for the breaches, of the subtenant’s obligations under the subletting agreement or this Act during the subtenancy. 2006, c. 17, s. 97 (4).

12. When something is broken within a rental unit, is the tenant or landlord responsible to fix it? 

This depends on who was at fault. If the tenant, or one of the tenant's guests, was directly responsible for the damage, then the tenant would have to pay for the repairs. If the damage wasn’t caused by the tenant or a guest, then the landlord would be responsible for the repairs.

34. The tenant is responsible for the repair of undue damage to the rental unit or residential complex caused by the wilful or negligent conduct of the tenant, another occupant of the rental unit or a person permitted in the residential complex by the tenant. 2006, c. 17, s. 34.

13. How much notice must a tenant provide to the landlord before terminating or ending a lease?

A tenant must provide at least 28 days notice.

(3) A notice under subsection (1) shall be given at least 28 days before the date the termination is specified to be effective. 2016, c. 2, Sched. 6, s. 1.

SEE ALSO: The Down-low on Basement Apartments in Ontario

The Places4Students.com Team

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