I recently had a less than pleasant email exchange with my landlord over new lease agreements and a pet in the building. I would like to share my tale as well as offer advice and support to anyone who may not understand their legal rights as a tenant in Ontario.
Recently this year Canada took in 25,000 Syrian refugees.
986 Syrian people were welcomed to Hamilton, Ontario. But not all of them received a warm reception. Several families struggled to find landlords willing to rent to them. Others were subject to rent hikes and illegal requests for deposits. These Syrian arrivals also fell victim to gentrification which has been plaguing the residents of many areas in Hamilton. Low income housing has been steadily demolished to make way for large condominiums to be sold to the Torontonians who are also being priced out of their homes in Toronto.
Before I let this spiral into a rant about greed and inflation and begin fear mongering let me reign in this article. You as a tenant have many rights over your landlord.
Firstly: Your landlord needs to give you at least 24hour notice before entering the premises. This can be done via email, texting or in person. Violation of this agreement means that the tenant can file a T2 with the Landlord Tenancy Board or LTB.
This is a link to that form:
Notice as well this form can be used should you feel your landlord:
“entered your rental unit illegally, • changed the locks to your rental unit or building without giving you replacement keys, • substantially interfered with your reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit or complex or with the reasonable enjoyment of a member of your household, • harassed, coerced, obstructed, threatened or interfered with you, • withheld or interfered with vital services, care services or meals”
Filing a T2 could result in your landlord repaying you the years rent, as well as the court and filing fees. In my case when I mentioned to my Landlord that I had legal reason to file both a T2 for illegal entrance, and a T6 for his refusal to clean and maintain the property he immediately backed down.
Breaking a Lease:
Many landlords will try and intimidate students and foreigners to be afraid to ever break a lease. The law in Ontario states you may give your landlord two months notice should you wish to break a lease. I had an experience during my university days in Ottawa.
Four of us were renting a house together but had all began to hate each other. We decided to go our separate ways and we gave the landlord three months notice and the promise to find people to sublet or take over the house for the duration of the lease. The landlord flipped and began making threats of litigation should we even consider to break the lease. I did some research and discovered that should your landlord refuse to offer and adequate reason for you to assign your lease to another party then you may file a Tenant’s Notice to Terminate the Tenancy (Form N9)no late than 30 days after your original request.
After confronting the landlord with this bit of knowledge they also backed down. People often attempt to bully or ignore the law with those they assume to be ignorant of it. It is systemic since it is one of the ways many police officers act, but again I will not stray with this article.
In the current email exchange I had with my current landlord He hinted at attempting to raise my rent from 400$-450$.
Now the max in Ontario for a rent increase is 2%. And a rent increase can only be done once every 12 months. Since my rent is 400$ it would be an 8$ increase max legally allowed in Ontario. I could wave that law though if I were to believe that my landlord would do renovations which would raise the value of the property. However after living here 8 months I doubt he will suddenly turn my humble abode into a castle.
This is the LTB’s rent increase guide for 2016:
Also for my Landlord to legally raise my rent he would need to give me 90 days written notice of his intention.
My biggest stress however was not the rent increase, but that my landlord seemed to take insult with my beautiful new rescue cat; Sushi. I had consulted my lease before adopting her, and there was nothing mentioned about animals. However my landlord seemed adamant that she needed to be out for September 1st, whether or not I chose to extend my lease. In doing some more research on the LTB I found that even if your lease specifies no animals, your landlord must prove that the animal is damaging property, or making life uncomfortable for the other tenants. Since my cat is well trained and never leaves my floor, he would be hard pressed to get me evicted over my cat.
During the whole situation I knew I was in the legal right, but I was still stressed. Your home is your castle and when people make threats on the safety or security of it, even the toughest souls worry. I can imagine being a refugee fleeing a war torn country to then deal with the bullying and greed of some slum lord in Hamilton.Thankfully I know and am willing to fight for my rights, but many people have been bullied and cheated out of their own homes. Please share this and educate yourself on all of your rights to security, safety and your property. If you continue to wave or ignore your rights, there will be no point in having them.