About licensed retirement homes

Ontario is home to nearly 780 licensed retirement homes. Retirement homes are regulated by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA).

Retirement homes are typically privately owned. They rent housing to seniors and offer services like meals and assistance with dressing.

Residents pay for the full cost of their accommodation. There may be other costs for services at the home, including any care services that the resident may choose to purchase through the home.

Residents have full access to Ontario’s publicly funded health care system and may arrange to receive publicly funded care. Residents may also pay an external provider for care services.

Difference from long-term care homes

Retirement homes and long-term care homes both offer supported living but have some key differences.

You apply directly to a retirement home, but you apply to long-term care through Home and Community Care Support Services organizations.

Residents in retirement homes are usually more independent and need less medical care than residents in long-term care, who need nursing care on-site 24 hours a day and help with daily living.

Laws and regulations

The Retirement Homes Act, 2010 and Ontario Regulation 166/11 protect seniors living in Ontario retirement homes.

Retirement home residents also have protections under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, which governs the tenancy relationship between the retirement home (landlord) and the resident (tenant).

The Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority regulates all retirement homes in Ontario, enforces care and safety standards, and protects residents through:

  • licensing retirement homes
  • conducting inspections
  • handling complaints


There are no eligibility criteria for living in a retirement home.

Residents select the retirement home they prefer, and the resident and retirement home enter into a tenancy agreement.

How to choose a retirement home

1. Find homes in the area you want to live in

You can contact the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) to help you find a list of homes.

The RHRA provides:

2. Research and compare homes

Narrow down your list of homes through research. Check the RHRA retirement home database to:

  • confirm the home is licensed
  • review recent inspection reports

The home should have an itemized list of the types of accommodation and care services with prices readily available. The list should be provided to anyone who requests it and can be provided in print or electronic form.

It is important to understand your care service options before you commit to a home and enter into an agreement.

What to consider

Call the home or visit its website to find out:

  • if the home offers the type and level of service that you want
  • what services are included with your accommodation
  • what services will cost you extra, and how much it costs
  • when you can you move in
  • if there is a wait list, and how long it is
  • if you can you talk to people who live there now and what others have to say about this home

Get more tips on questions to ask potential homes.

3. Visit the homes

Visiting different homes lets you check out the facilities and observe how staff interact with residents. By visiting more than one home, you can compare which home best fits with your needs.

Call the home directly to set up an appointment.

4. Apply

Ask the home(s) for an application form. Send your application directly to the retirement home.

There may be a wait list, so it’s a good idea to apply to more than one home.

Services and facilities

The type and level of care provided by retirement homes can vary. Residents choose which care services to purchase from the home. They can also arrange for external care providers, including private-pay or publicly funded care.

Each retirement home is different, but most offer:

  • your own room or apartment
  • shared dining rooms and common areas or lounges
  • full wheelchair access
  • housekeeping and laundry (for a fee)
  • social and recreational programs

Many homes offer flexibility — you may choose to opt in or out of paid meal plans or other services as your needs change. You may also leave for extended periods of time (for example, vacation) and keep your residence, as long as you continue paying for rent and service fees.

Care services

Residents have varying care needs. They may range from seniors who are highly independent, to those who require more extensive care.

Retirement homes may offer a range of care services for purchase, including:

  • meals
  • assistance with:
    • bathing
    • dressing
    • personal hygiene
    • ambulation (for example, moving or walking)
    • feeding
  • continence care
  • skin and wound care
  • administration of a drug
  • pharmacy service
  • nursing care
  • medical care
  • dementia care

Find health services in your community through the Health811 search tool.


The government does not fund retirement homes.

Residents are responsible for the full cost of their:

  • rent
  • meals
  • care services purchased through the home
  • external care services that are not publicly funded

How to report harm or make a complaint

Report harm

If you see or suspect a retirement home resident is being harmed or is at risk, call the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) at 1‐855‐275‐7472.

Anyone who sees or suspects a situation that harms or puts a resident at risk of harm must report it to the RHRA. These situations include:

  • abuse or neglect of a resident
  • improper or incompetent treatment or care of a resident
  • unlawful conduct
  • misuse or misappropriation of a resident’s money

These are known as “mandatory reports.” This mandatory reporting obligation applies to everyone, including:

  • family members
  • substitute decision makers
  • retirement home staff and operators
  • regulated health professionals such as doctors, nurses and social workers

The only exception is that residents are not required to make a report, but may choose to do so.

Learn more about making a report.

File a complaint

You may file a formal complaint with the RHRA if you believe a retirement home is not following the Retirement Homes Act.

Submit a complaint in writing through one of these options:

  • online complaint form
  • email to info@rhra.ca
  • fax to 1-855-631-0170
  • mail to:
    Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority
    55 York Street, Suite 700
    Toronto, ON M5J 1R7
    Attention: Complaints Intake

If you need help submitting a complaint or have any questions about the process, contact the RHRA at 1-855-ASK-RHRA (1‐855‐275‐7472).

Learn more about the complaints process.

Tenancy complaints

Contact the Landlord and Tenant Board at 1-888-332-3234 for concerns related to tenancy, including:

  • changes in charges for rent
  • termination of rental agreements
  • changes to services offered