Your Rights and Responsibilities

Residential Tenancies Act
Discrimination
Rent, Leases and Deposits
Repairs and Safety
Eviction

Once you have rented a place to live, you become a tenant. You have rights and responsibilities and so does your landlord. All materials provided are for information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

Residential Tenancies Act

The rules about your relationship with your landlord are mostly covered in the Residential Tenancies ActLink to external site . Some rental situations are not covered by the Act, such as if you share the rental unit with the owner of the building or a member of his/her family; if you pay rent to another tenant; or if you live in a housing co-op Link to external site.

If you are unsure about your rights, call a community legal clinic Link to external site for legal advice. Contact information for legal services in Halton is listed in the Who to Call for Help section.

Discrimination

The law says that a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because of your race, colour, creed, sex, nationality, ancestry, marital status, source of income, ethnic origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, family status, place of origin or receipt of social assistance. It can be difficult to prove discrimination, but if you feel you have been denied housing for any of these reasons, call a local community legal clinic Link to external site or the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation Link to external site (CERA).  CERA is an organization dedicated to ending discrimination in housing and promoting human rights in housing. It provides information on evictions and the Residential Tenancies Act Link to external site.

A landlord may ask you for credit references, rental history information or how much money you make. The landlord can refuse to rent to you on the basis of this information.

Rent, Leases and Deposits

Rent

  • This is money that a tenant pays a landlord for the right to live in a rental unit.
  • It can be paid weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, depending on the agreement a tenant has made with the landlord.
  • Usually you pay rent on the first day of the month, but not always - check your lease to make sure.
  • If you do not pay on the day promised, your rent is overdue the next day.

The law says that a landlord may only ask for up to one month’s rent in advance before you move in. Your first month’s rent is paid when you move in. Once you move in, any money you have paid the landlord in advance will usually be used for your last month’s rent.

Landlords are supposed to pay you interest on your last month’s rent. Once you have moved in, the landlord cannot ask you for the last month’s rent if he/she has not already done so. If you cannot afford both the first and last month’s rent at the time you agree to take the unit, some landlords may let you make payments towards the last month's rent over a few months.

Lease

When you rent a place to live, you make a legal agreement with the landlord. The agreement is often a written contract, commonly called a lease, which you and the landlord sign.

  • Before you sign a lease make sure you understand everything it says.
  • Bring someone to help you read it, or call a community legal clinic Link to external site.
  • You must be given a copy of the lease.
  • The landlord must give you his/her address and full name. Ask the landlord for his/her contact information.

The lease states that you have agreed to rent a particular place and to pay a certain amount of rent on a certain date. Your lease could say you pay monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly. The usual length of a lease is for one year.

The lease should also state what utilities and services are included in the rent and what you will pay for in addition to the rent. It should also list the appliances which are included in the unit.

Deposits

This is money given to a landlord to hold a rental unit.

  • It is common for landlords to require a deposit when you are filling out a rental application.
  • Do not give the landlord money unless you are sure you want to take the unit.
  • Make sure you get a receipt from the landlord for the deposit.
  • The receipt should state the amount of the deposit and reason for receipt.
  • Once you have agreed with the landlord to rent the apartment, your deposit is put towards your rent.

Getting a deposit back can be very difficult and you should seek legal advice if this becomes a problem. For assistance contact Halton Housing Help who can refer you to a community legal clinic.

Form of Payment

  • You may pay your rent by cash, cheque, money order, direct deposit or bank draft.
  • Always get a receipt that clearly indicates your address, the amount, the time period for which you are paying and who received the payment.
  • Never pay cash unless a proper receipt is given to you at the time you pay.

A landlord cannot require a particular method of payment. You may choose to give post-dated cheques or pay your rent by direct deposit for convenience; however there are also potential risks if you do so. Collecting payments is often a way for you to ensure that the landlord remains in regular contact.

Repairs and Safety

Landlords are responsible for keeping units in good repair and for meeting of all Halton and local municipal health, safety and property standards as applicable. You should make sure the landlord has installed a fully operational smoke detector in your rental unit. This is a requirement of provincial law.

As a tenant, you are responsible for keeping the unit clean and for any damage done to the unit caused by either yourself or anyone you allow into your unit or the building.

Eviction

The Residential Tenancies Act Link to external site allows a landlord to evict you for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons include:

  • not paying the rent or often paying the rent late
  • damaging the unit or committing illegal acts in your unit or on the building’s premises
  • making too much noise or disturbing other tenants
  • or the landlord wants to use the apartment for themselves or their family

A landlord is not allowed to evict you even if there is a valid reason unless he/she gives you written notice of the complaint and follows certain steps. If you get a notice and need assistance, you may with to call a community legal clinic Link to external site for legal advice.

Fighting an Eviction

To evict you, your landlord must follow certain steps set out in the Residential Tenancies Act Link to external site. If you do not want to move out, your landlord will have to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board Link to external site. The Board is like a court but less formal. It deals with conflicts between landlords and tenants.

If you receive an eviction notice, you do not have to move out. Contact a community legal clinic Link to external site immediately for help with the matter.

Legal Services

Halton Community Legal Services Link to external site is a community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario to provide legal aid services to low income residents in Halton. Halton Community Legal Services provides free legal information and advice regarding the following:

  • Ontario Works
  • Human Rights
  • Tenants' Rights
  • Disability Benefits
  • Government Pensions
  • Employment Insurance and Employment Standards.

Services can be found in both North and South Halton.

You may also refer to the Tenant Law Series (external) through CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario).

Housing Stability Fund

If you are struggling to pay housing costs and are at risk of being evicted, the Housing Stability Fund may be able to provide one-time assistance with last month’s rent, energy bills, or moving costs. Dial 311 to discuss your situation and apply for this program.