Every tenant in Ontario has rights. These rights are largely defined through the Residential Tenancies Act and Human Rights Code. The latter means that landlords cannot discriminate or refuse tenants based on race, place of origin, ethnic origin, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, marital status, family status (e.g. children) or disability. For example, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because you are a newcomer to Canada or because you have children.
Before you rent
You need to obtain a basic understanding of the rules surrounding residential tenancies before you start renting any property. Understand, all types of rental periods are permitted, they can be as flexible as you need as a tenant. The The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) governs the majority of residential tenancies in Ontario.
A signed lease is not required, but it does protect you as a tenant
When you move in
Ensure you have a signed move in/move out inspection report. Walk around the unit with the landlord or their representative. Do NOT rush. Before doing the inspection familiarise yourself with what to look out for, the good and bad aspects of residential tenancies. Think about your own safety and your well-being, it is as important for your rental unit as it is for every other part of your life.
When you check the overall condition of any rental property, think about whether it is livable or not. Check every part of the unit, look in cupboards etc. Look out for problems, such as holes in the ceiling or walls, poor ventilation, etc. Are the window sills damaged, can you open the windows? If there are problems with the unit then it is still possible to move ahead and rent the unit, ask the landlord or their representative to fix those issues you highlight.
Landlords are responsible for maintaining and repairing rental properties, but they cannot fix a problem if they don't know about it. This maintenance includes taking care of pests, appliances and common areas, such as parking lots, laundry rooms, elevators, hallways, driveways and garbage areas. However, if a tenant breaks something, they may be responsible for either fixing it themselves or paying for the repair. Remember tenants are responsible for keeping the apartment clean, and ensuring that there rubbish is removed, etc.
Tenants should know their rights in respect of:
- Maintenance and repairs
- Cockroaches, mice or other pests
- Heating issues
- Utilities and other vital services
If you need advice then a paralegal may be able to assist.