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Renting a Place to Live in Ontario: Know Your Rights

If you are renting a room, apartment or house in Ontario, you have many rights.

First, there are some important words you should know to help you understand your housing rights:

1. Tenant

This is a person who is renting a room, apartment or house. If you are the one renting a place to stay, you are a tenant. You might live in a place with other tenants. They might be your family, your friends or strangers who live in the same unit as you.

2. Landlord

This is who owns or operates the place that you are renting. Sometimes a landlord is a private person who owns a house or building. Sometimes a landlord is a company who owns a building.

3. Lease

This is a legal document that you (the tenant) and the landlord sign. It includes the information about the place you are renting, the names of the tenant and the landlord, the things that you agree to, and your signatures.

A landlord cannot make up their own lease. The Government of Ontario made one lease that everyone has to use, called a “standard lease.” This it to make sure that your rights are respected.

Here is a guide to the standard lease. At the bottom of the webpage, you will find the guide in many different languages.

4. Residential Tenancies Act (RTA)

This is the group of laws in Ontario that are the rules for tenants and landlords. The RTA is important for you, because it makes sure that you have rights as a tenant. You also have responsibilities as a tenant. Landlords have rights and responsibilities too.

The RTA will not apply if you: live with the landlord and share a kitchen/bathroom, live in a hotel or motel, live in a shelter, live in non-profit/co-op housing or live in university/college housing.

These are some of the important rights that you have, because of the RTA:

To have necessary services in your home, like cold and hot water, electricity and heat (at least 21 degrees Celsius).

To live in a place that is healthy and not dangerous or in bad condition. For example, if your place is full of cockroaches, bedbugs or other bugs, your landlord has to get rid of them.

To be told 24 hours ahead of time if you landlord needs to come into your home for some reason, such as to fix something.

To get receipts for paying rent, if you ask for them.

To not be harassed or treated badly by your landlord.

Can I sign a lease and rent a place if I am under 18?

If you are 16 or 17 years old, you can sign a lease and rent a place in Ontario. You do not need an adult to sign it for you.

It is illegal for a landlord not to rent a place to you because you are only 16 or 17.

What should I do if my landlord does not use the standard lease?

Most landlords have to use the standard lease!

Some landlords do not. For example, landlords for public or subsidized housing, such as Toronto Community Housing.

To find out about the rules for standard leases and what you can do if you landlord does not use one, see this website.

Can my landlord raise my rent?



Your landlord can only raise your rent once a year and they can only raise it by the % that the RTA says they can.

Your landlord has to give you a letter saying they are going to raise the rent and telling you the amount. If you don’t know if it is correct, you can call a community legal clinic or a a refugee centre to check.

Can my landlord tell me I have to leave my apartment and find a new place to live?


Your landlord can only tell you to leave (this is called “evicting you”) if they follow the rules of the RTA. The rules are very strict.

When can they evict me?

The rules say that they can only evict you if you have done something wrong (like not paid your rent), if your landlord wants to move into your home themselves, or if your landlord wants to renovate your home.

How can they evict me?

If your landlord wants to evict you, they have to fill out an official form from the government website and give it to you explaining why they want you to leave.

Can an eviction be cancelled?

If the problem is that you didn’t pay your rent, you can pay your rent and then the problem is fixed and the eviction is cancelled.

You do not need to leave your home right away if you get an eviction letter, even if your landlord tells you that you do.

To read more about your housing rights, see this website.