Renting? You Need to Know Your Rights
September 26, 2011
By: Krystal Yee
Whether you’re moving into your first apartment, or if you’re been renting for years, it is important for you to understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
Some landlords require a lease, but even without one, it is important to be aware of your rights. Landlords cannot discriminate against you because of race, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or disability. This means a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because you are of a certain ethnicity, or if you have children.
Here are 5 things to consider
Rental and security deposits
This varies by province. In Ontario, landlords can ask for first and last month's rent, but security deposits are not allowed. Last month’s rent may be collected as a deposit amount, but can never be used to apply to damages.
In British Columbia, landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit of up to ½ month’s rent, and can also ask an additional ½ month’s rent for a pet damage deposit. Landlords are also able to demand deposits for additional keys and garage door openers.
In genera, rent can only be increased once every 12 months, usually on the anniversary of your move-in date and the landlord must give you 90 days’ written notice.
Apartment must include at least a fridge and a stove. Most landlords will also allow you to have a microwave as well. However, some landlords may not allow you to have a dishwasher, or a clothes washer and dryer.
When a landlord can enter your residence
Your landlord may only enter your home if they have provided 24 hours written notice, as well as a date, time, and a good reason for entry. Unless you agree to something different, a landlord can only enter your apartment between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
If your landlord knocks on your door without providing sufficient notice, you have the right to refuse entry – unless it is in the case of an emergency, like a fire or flood.
Late rent payments
If you have encountered some temporary financial difficulty and know that you will not be able to pay your rent, speak to your landlord immediately. If you have a good history, and if you demonstrate that you understand the severity of the situation, there is a chance your landlord might extend you a one-time grace period.
In Ontario, if your rent remains unpaid the day after it is due, your landlord can give you a “notice to terminate for nonpayment of rent.” You will then have 14 days to pay. After those 14 days, if no rent has been paid, the landlord will be able to file an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board for rent arrears.
In British Columbia, rent is considered late if it is not paid before the first day of the rental period. Based on what your lease states, your landlord can request an administrative fee of no more than $25 for a late payment.
What you are responsible for as a renter:
1. Paying your rent in full and on time.
2. Keeping your home clean and well maintained.
3. Contacting your landlord if anything needs to be repaired.
4. Allowing your landlord to enter your home (with reasonable notice) to perform repair work, or to show the apartment to other tenants if you are moving out.
Tenant rights are not the same across Canada. Be sure to find out what your rights are in the province where you are residing to make sure that you are protecting yourself and not being taken advantage of.
For more information, please check out the CMHC Guide to Renting, as well as their Provincial and Territorial fact sheets.