The information on this page outlines rules, renters’ rights and landlords’ responsibilities as laid out in Ontario housing laws such as the Residential Tenancies Act, the Human Rights Code and the Housing Services Act.
Can a landlord stop me from hosting guests?
Usually, a landlord cannot stop a tenant from hosting guests in their rental unit. In regular tenancies, a tenant has the right to welcome any guest that the tenant wants to visit them in their unit, and for any period of time. If a landlord tries to control which guests a tenant can invite into their home, this may be considered harassment or discrimination.
However, there are some limits to hosting guests. For example, a tenant is responsible for damage that their guests cause to the rental property or if their guests interfere with the landlord’s or other tenants’ interests in or enjoyment of the rental property. A tenant may also be responsible if they allow anyone to commit any illegal acts at the rental building. In these cases, a landlord will sometimes give a tenant’s guest a trespass notice. Although the tenant is still allowed to have that guest visit them in their own unit (if they want to), that guest is not allowed to go anywhere else in the rental property.
In subsidized or Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) housing, the guest policies vary but tenants are normally not allowed to have long-term guests and there is normally a limit on the number of days that a tenant can host a guest. For more information on guest policies in subsidized housing, a tenant should consult the policies set out by their landlord.
Can a landlord charge a rent increase or extra fees when I host guests?
Typically, a landlord cannot raise rent or charge extra fees when a tenant hosts a guest. Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) prohibits landlords from collecting any refundable or non-refundable fees, except for a previously agreed upon key deposit and/or last month’s rental deposit. However, if a guest damages property, the tenant who invited that guest may be responsible to pay for the damage.
The rules for tenants in Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) housing are different. Each RGI housing provider must have a guest policy which allows guests, but the policy will have limitations on how long a guest may visit. Violating a guest policy in RGI housing could result in a rent increase. For more information on guest policies in RGI housing, a tenant should consult their housing provider’s policies.
Roommates, occupants, and shared facilities
Can a landlord evict me or charge a rent increase or extra fees when I add a roommate or occupant?
A roommate or occupant is a person who has not signed a lease, but who lives in the rental unit with the permission of the tenant. Typically, a landlord cannot raise rent or charge extra fees when a tenant adds a roommate or occupant. Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) prohibits landlords from collecting any refundable or non-refundable fees, except for a previously agreed upon deposit for keys and/or one month’s rent. However, if a guest damages the rental property, the tenant who invited the guest may be responsible for the damage.
The rules for tenants in Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) housing are different. A tenant must inform their RGI housing provider if they would like to have a person staying with them for longer than the housing provider’s policies allow. If the RGI housing provider agrees to allow the tenant to add a roommate, the tenant will likely be required to provide information about the roommate to the RGI housing provider, and their rent will likely increase. Violating these policies in RGI housing could result in a rent increase. Tenants should consult their RGI housing provider’s policies for more information about guest policies.
Some municipalities set by-laws for the minimum amount of floor area required for each person living in one room. A landlord can apply to evict a tenant for overcrowding a unit if a rental unit has so many occupants that the unit is overcrowded. A tenant should consult their municipal by-laws for more information on what constitutes overcrowding.
What are my rights if I rent a bedroom and share all the other facilities of a unit?
The protections for tenants under Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act only apply to certain types of situations when the facilities of a unit are shared by multiple people.
Generally, RTA protections apply to a tenant who rents a bedroom and shares all other facilities of a unit with other tenants who all have their own leases.
RTA protections do not apply to a tenant who shares a kitchen or a bathroom with the person they rent from – which could include their landlord or another tenant who is the lease holder – or with an immediate family member of the landlord.
In any situation where a tenant shares facilities with other people, they should seek legal advice to confirm whether the protections of the RTA apply to them. Tenants can also consult Community Legal Education Ontario’s (CLEO) resource for more information about their rights in specific housing situations.
Tenants who rent a bedroom and share facilities – and who are protected by the RTA – should be aware that:
- Shared amenities like kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms are considered common areas. If a landlord would like to access these areas, they do not need to provide the tenants with a written notice at least 24 hours before would like to enter the unit. However, the landlord would have to provide 24 hours written notice to enter the tenant’s bedroom.
- If a landlord rents bedrooms within a unit to different tenants under separate leases, it is unlikely that the tenants will have input on who the landlord permits to live in the other bedrooms.
- These living arrangements are often called rooming houses. Rooming houses are not permitted in many municipalities. If the municipality learns about a rooming house, for example because someone makes a maintenance complaint to the municipality’s by-law enforcement office, the municipality may order the property owner to stop operating the property as a rooming house. This can put the tenants at risk of eviction. The LTB does not consider whether a unit is permitted, and maintenance complaints can be made to the LTB even when a unit is not permitted in a municipality.
What is a sublet?
In Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), subletting happens when a tenant transfers their entire rental unit to another person or group – known as a subtenant – for a specific period of time, and then the tenant later returns to resume living in their unit, and the subtenant moves out. The original lease agreement between the tenant and the landlord remains in effect. This means that the tenant remains responsible to the landlord for paying rent. Typically, a subtenant pays rent to the original tenant during the subtenancy. However, even if the subtenant pays the landlord directly, the tenant is still ultimately responsible for ensuring that the rent is paid to the landlord. The tenant is also responsible for any damage that the subtenant causes to the unit.
There are some restrictions on subletting a unit. For example, a sublet agreement must specify the time period for the subtenancy. This means that a subtenancy cannot go month-to-month like a tenancy can. Furthermore, a tenant must leave the rental unit while allowing a subtenant to live in the unit. There is no sublet relationship if a tenant does not leave the rental unit while allowing another person to live in the unit. If the tenant lives in the unit at the same time as another person, then that other person is an occupant or a roommate. Read more about the differences between a sublet, an occupant, and a roommate.
Can a landlord stop me from subletting my unit to someone else?
The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) requires a tenant to get their landlord’s permission to sublet their unit. However, a landlord is not allowed to “arbitrarily” or “unreasonably” stop a tenant from subletting the unit. If a landlord refuses to allow their tenant to sublet their unit, the tenant can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) to determine whether the landlord arbitrarily or unreasonably refused to allow them to sublet.
If a tenant gives possession of the rental unit to another person without the landlord’s consent, the sublet agreement is not valid at the LTB and the person who has taken possession could be evicted by the landlord.
Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) housing policies normally prevent a tenant from subletting their unit. If an RGI housing provider prohibits subletting, and a tenant sublets their unit anyway, the tenant could be evicted. Tenants who live in RGI housing should consult their housing provider’s policies for more information on subletting.
If I sublet my unit, what are my rights?
A tenant who sublets their unit is still entitled to all the benefits of their tenancy agreement, and they also still hold all the responsibilities of that agreement with their landlord. The tenant is also responsible to ensure that their subtenant upholds all the responsibilities of the tenancy agreement with the landlord. For example, this means that the tenant is responsible to ensure that the rent is paid to the landlord, and the tenant can apply to evict their subtenant if the subtenant fails to pay the rent.
If I am a subtenant, what are my rights?
During the subtenancy, the subtenant is entitled to the benefits outlined in the sublet agreement as well as in the RTA. The subtenant is also accountable for any responsibilities described in their sublet agreement that do not conflict with the RTA. Typically, landlords do not have any responsibilities towards the subtenant. However, the landlord continues to have responsibilities towards the tenant when that tenant sublets the rental unit. For example, a landlord should continue to maintain the unit and make repairs during a subtenancy. A subtenant can inform the tenant or the landlord of repairs that are needed.
What is an assignment of a tenancy?
A tenant can “assign” their lease to another person. When a lease is assigned to another person, the original lease agreement ends and a new lease agreement begins. The new lease agreement is between the new tenant (or “assignee”) and the landlord.
As a result, the original tenant (or “assignor”) will no longer have a right to occupy the unit. The original tenant will not owe any rent that is due after the date that the assignment begins. All of the rights to the unit and the obligations to the landlord become the responsibility of the new tenant. The details of the lease remain the same, including the type of lease (yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, or fixed-term), any included amenities or services, and the amount of rent owed.
How does assigning my lease differ from subletting my unit?
As noted above, if a tenant chooses to sublet their unit, the lease agreement between the original tenant and the landlord continues. The sublet agreement creates a relationship between the tenant and the subtenant. The tenant becomes the subtenant’s landlord. Often, the subtenant pays rent to the tenant and the tenant pays rent to the landlord. If the subtenant is late paying their rent, the tenant will still owe the landlord that rent.
If a tenant chooses to assign their lease, the new tenant’s lease agreement replaces the original tenant’s lease agreement. The original tenant will owe the landlord rent up until the day before the start date of the assigned lease. At the start date of the assigned lease, the new tenant will owe the landlord rent, and the original tenant will not owe any more. Once the new tenant’s lease begins, the original tenant has no remaining rights to the unit. For example, the original tenant cannot move back into the unit at the end of the new tenant’s assigned lease.
How do I assign my lease?
Section 95 of the RTA describes the rules about lease assignments.
A tenant must ask for their landlord’s approval to assign their lease. Usually, the tenant is also responsible for finding a new tenant (the assignee) to take over the lease. However, there are some circumstances where the landlord may want to choose the assignee, for example from their building’s waiting list.
It is up to the tenant to decide whether to ask for their landlord’s approval first and then try to find an assignee, or whether to find an assignee first and then ask for the landlord to approve the assignment and the potential assignee at the same time. Keep in mind that a landlord may refuse to allow the lease assignment and/or refuse to approve a particular assignee suggested by the tenant.
What are my options if my landlord refuses to consent to an assignment or does not reply to my request?
If a landlord refuses to allow a tenant to assign their lease, the tenant may choose to continue living in the unit and keep their original lease agreement. However, if the tenant would still like to move out, they may end their tenancy by giving the landlord an N9 form called “Tenant’s Notice to End the Tenancy”. The tenant must provide this notice within 30 days of the landlord’s refusal, and they must provide the landlord with at least 30 days’ notice before they intend to move out.
A landlord has seven days to respond to a tenant’s request to assign their lease. If the landlord has not replied within seven days, the tenant then has 30 days to give the landlord an N9 form to end their tenancy. The tenant must provide the landlord with at least 30 days’ notice before they intend to move out.
If a landlord consents to a tenant’s request to assign their lease but does not approve the specific assignee chosen by the tenant, the tenant can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). The landlord is not allowed to “unreasonably” or “arbitrarily” refuse an assignee chosen by the tenant. However, if the landlord has a good reason to refuse the request, the tenant will have to find a different assignee.
If the LTB agrees that the landlord “unreasonably” or “arbitrarily” refused to consent to a particular assignee, the LTB may order that the landlord agree to the assignee, that the landlord agree to a different assignment suggested by the tenant, or that the lease agreement between the tenant and landlord be terminated. If a tenant finds themselves in this situation, they should get legal advice about their options.
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