Does renting your property in Ontario come with different responsibilities than in other provinces? The short answer is yes, and understanding these nuances is the key to a smooth, legal, and stress-free rental operation.
Before we get to our comprehensive guide for landlords in Ontario, let’s touch on Ontario’s Residential Tenancy Act.
Familiarize yourself with Ontario’s Residential Tenancy Act
If there’s one resource that Ontario residential landlords should familiarise themselves with, it’s the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) of Ontario. The RTA is the law in the province of Ontario that governs landlord and tenant relations in residential rental accommodations.
Based on the law set out in this RTA, here are the main responsibilities of landlords in Ontario.
Note: Learn more by checking out our list of helpful resources for Canadian property owners.
It's important to keep in mind landlords are responsible for finding and screening tenants in a fair and indiscriminate way.
Here’s what you can ask when screening applicants:
- Rental history (although if a person does not have a history of renting, this legally cannot be used against them).
- Permission to run credit checks and credit references.
- Their name, address, and date of birth (in order to conduct a credit check).
- Information surrounding their passport, driver’s license, source of income, and expenses for the purposes of:
- obtaining a more detailed credit report.
- ensuring the credit check is being done on the correct person and not someone with the same name and date of birth.
Conversely, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to a tenant based on their:
- Place of origin
- Marital status
- Family status
- Physical or mental disability
- Sexual orientation
- Lawful source of income
For a deeper dive into proper tenant screening, read the Ultimate Canadian Tenant Screening Checklist.
Provide and sign the lease
In terms of must-haves, leases are mostly similar across Canadian provinces, but knowing exactly what to include for Ontario is key.
In Ontario, leases need to include:
- Parties to the agreement: This section has the names of the landlord(s) and tenant(s) who are agreeing to the tenancy.
- Rental unit: This section describes the rental unit that is being rented and the address.
- Contact information: This section has the landlord’s address where notices must be sent.
- Term of tenancy agreement: This section has the date that the tenant will have the right to move into the rental unit and the length of time (term) of the tenancy.
- Rent: This section sets out the total rent (also called the lawful rent).
- Services and utilities: This section sets out what services are included or not included in the total rent.
- Rent discounts: This section allows a landlord to offer a rent discount.
- Rent deposit: In this section, the landlord and tenant agree on whether a rent deposit is required and the amount.
- Key deposit: In this section, the landlord and tenant agree on whether a key deposit is required and the amount.
- Smoking: In this section, a landlord and tenant can agree to rules about smoking in the rental unit.
- Tenants insurance: In this section, a landlord and tenant can agree on whether the tenant must have liability insurance.
- Changes to the rental units: This section explains that the tenant can install decorative items such as pictures or window coverings, but that they must have the landlord’s permission to make other changes to the rental unit
- Maintenance and repairs: This section explains that the landlord must maintain the rental unit and property, but the tenant must repair or pay for any undue damage caused by the tenant or their guests.
- Assignment and subletting: This section explains that the tenant needs the landlord’s permission to assign or sublet the unit to someone else and that the landlord cannot arbitrarily or unreasonably withhold consent.
- Additional terms: The landlord and tenant can agree to additional terms that are specific to the tenancy.
- Changes to this agreement: This section explains that any changes to the agreement must be agreed to in writing.
- Signatures: In this section, the landlord and the tenant indicate that they agree to follow the terms of the agreement.
Beyond including all of this in your lease, it’s important to also make sure your tenants understand what they’re signing and provide clarification if needed. Learn more about standard leases in Ontario.
For access to digital lease agreements that you and your renters can easily sign from anywhere, sign up for Rhenti.
Adhere to proper rent increase
There are exceptions, but the current maximum amount that rent can increase in Ontario for most private residential rental units per year is 2.5%.
In most cases, the rent for a residential unit can be increased 12 months after either:
- the last rent increase
- the date the tenancy begins
For example, if you increase rent on January 1st, 2023, you would only be able to increase rent again on or after January 1st, 2024. You also have to notify tenants of the increase at least 90 days before it happens.
Read more about rent increase guidelines in Ontario.
Conduct maintenance and repairs
Make sure that property maintenance responsibilities are clearly listed in your lease agreement, and that all parties understand who is responsible for what.
This includes to what degree tenants are responsible for keeping your unit clean and damage-free, and your responsibility as the landlord to maintain the property and make or arrange repairs.
If you don’t plan on being the one making the repairs, you can also leave your tenants with the contact information of the individuals or companies that will be. Otherwise, you will need to be the middle person.
Read more about landlord maintenance obligations in Ontario.
Make sure your units are safe
Rental units need to be outfitted with necessary safety equipment which can include:
- Smoke detectors
- Fire extinguishers
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Adequate locks on doors and windows
- At least two escape routes
- Up-to-code electrical safety
- Up-to-code plumbing and water
Refer to the Residential Tenancy Act’s Maintenance Standards to learn more about what safety protocols apply to your rental units.
Serve notice to enter the property
In most cases, property owners can only enter rented units between the hours of 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM for the following reasons:
- Repairs and Maintenance: A landlord may enter the rental unit to carry out repairs and maintenance. However, the landlord must provide reasonable notice before entering the unit, except in emergency situations.
- Showing the Unit to Prospective Tenants: A landlord may enter the unit to show it to prospective tenants, but only after giving reasonable notice to the current tenant and obtaining their consent.
- Inspection: A landlord may enter the unit to inspect it, but only with the tenant's consent or after providing reasonable notice.
You also have to provide at least 24 hours written notice to the occupying tenants when entering for these reasons. In the case of an emergency such as a gas leak or court order, these restrictions may not apply.
Learn more about when you can enter an occupied rental unit in Ontario.
Serve notice to end tenancy
The process you follow can also depend on whether you’re evicting for a “for cause” or “no cause” reason.
For cause reasons include:
- Not paying the rent in full
- Causing damage to the rental property
- Disturbing other tenants or the landlord
- Illegal activity in the rental unit or residential complex
No cause reasons include:
- The landlord plans to do major repairs or renovations that require a building permit and the work cannot be done unless the rental unit is empty
- The landlord requires the rental unit because the landlord, a member of the landlord’s immediate family, or their caregiver wishes to move into the unit
- The landlord has agreed to sell the property and the purchaser requires all or part of the property because the purchaser, a member of the purchaser’s immediate family, or their caregiver wishes to move into the unit. (This reason for eviction only applies in rental buildings with three or fewer units or condominium units)
Check out our property owner’s guide to evictions in Ontario to learn more about what steps to take during an eviction.
Like anything, the first step to resolving a dispute is discussion. Sitting down with your tenants, hearing them out, and working together to come to a solution is often the fastest way to resolve disputes.
If this doesn’t work, the next step is filing a complaint with the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit, which will assess whether your issue is an offence under the Residential Tenancy Act. If deemed an offence, they’ll work with both parties to resolve the dispute. ,
Learn more about dispute resolution in Ontario.
While these guidelines are a great first step to running a smooth and legal rental operation in Ontario, familiarising yourself with the province’s Residential Tenancy Act is the best path to a successful renting experience in Ontario.
The responsibility list of property owners seems to always be growing, but there are tools to make this list much more manageable. Offering a workload reduction of 4-6X, Rhenti makes the process of finding and signing the right renters fast and easier than any other way.
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The blog posts on this website are for the purpose of general introductory information. They can’t serve as an opinion or professional advice. Speak to a professional before making decisions related to your circumstances.