What does the LAW say - Current and Important Points to Consider
- Not every rental situation is covered by the Tenant Protection Act. If you share kitchen or washroom facilities with your landlord, you may only have what is called a license. There may be nothing wrong with such an arrangement, but you should not assume that the sections of the Act that most protect tenants necessarily apply to you.
- Whatever arrangement you make, get it in writing. Make sure that everything you think you have agreed to is in the written document, even if you have to add it in handwriting (and if you do, make sure you and the landlord both initial all handwritten terms). For instance, if the landlord tells you there are no cockroaches, make that promise a term of the lease or you probably won't be able to do anything about it if your landlord is lying.
- Be very careful whom you select as a roommate. Make sure all roommates sign the agreement with the landlord, and have a separate written agreement between the roommates about how you will share expenses.
- A landlord may require the first and last months' rent in advance, but may not request any other payments from a new tenant, and may not require a tenant to give post-dated cheques.
- A landlord may make reasonable rules, but must advise a tenant of them and of any changes as they occur, and if the rules contradict the tenant's lease, it is the lease that is followed. Ask a landlord for rules in writing before signing any rental agreement. They can be added to the written agreement if you and the landlord prefer, and if there aren't any, put that in the agreement.
- You should arrange tenants' insurance to cover your personal property and your liability for injuries suffered by guests, since a landlord's insurance usually does not cover these things.
- If your tenancy is covered by the Tenant Protection Act, your landlord may only enter at your invitation, in case of emergency, or on 24 hours' written notice to you, and he can be charged if he enters otherwise.
- If you have any complaints or need repairs done, notify the landlord in writing and keep a copy. If such problems are not resolved satisfactorily, you may apply for reduction from the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal, provided that you do so within one year after the problems arose. If you believe the problem may constitute a violation of municipal requirements such as by-laws, fire codes or building codes, call City Hall and arrange an inspection. If you are right, the city may terminate your lease and can leave without further liability.
- You may end a tenancy to which the Tenant Protection Act applies at the end of a fixed term or later by giving sixty-day's written notice to your landlord. You may be able to leave sooner if the Rental Housing Tribunal finds that your landlord has violated the Act. Your landlord can force you to leave if you do not pay your rent or persist in breaking rules, or by giving you notice that he intends to renovate the premises or that he or his family have decided to live there.
A landlord must keep belongings you leave behind for 30 days, but may then dispose of them. He must be able to account for any money that he receives from your belongings, but only for six months, after which he will have no liability to you.