Rental housing offences
Learn about the rules of the Residential Tenancies Act to find out if your landlord or tenant has broken the law.
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The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 is an Ontario law that sets out rules for landlords and tenants. It is an offence to break certain rules. This page summarizes the offences in the act and explains how they apply to:
- rental units
- care homes
- mobile home parks and land lease communities
- non-profit housing co-operative member units (co-ops)
If you believe your landlord or tenant has broken any of these rules, contact the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit (RHEU) for help.
- A rental unit refers to any house, apartment or place of residence that is offered for rent. All the offences covered in this section apply to rental units. This includes rental units in care homes and mobile home parks and land lease communities.
Under the act, it is an offence to:
- take back possession of a rental unit without following the process set out in the act
- take a tenant’s belongings without following the rules
- make a tenant move out of a rental unit by giving a notice of termination to a tenant for a reason known to be untrue
- change the locks to a rental unit or building without giving the tenant a new key
- give notice to end the tenancy of a rental unit so that the landlord can convert it to a condominium where it is not permitted
- evict a tenant so that major repairs or renovations can be made to the rental unit without compensating the tenant or offering them another acceptable place to live
- fail to offer a tenant the right of first refusal after major repairs or renovations or when the building is changed to a condominium
- stop a tenant from getting their belongings within 72 hours of an eviction enforced by the sheriff
It is an offence to withhold or interfere with the supply of a vital service including:
- hot or cold water
- natural gas
Air conditioning, parking and storage are not vital services.
A suite meter records electricity consumption for an individual apartment suite or condo unit in a multi-residential building. It is an offence to:
- charge a tenant a portion of the utility cost without their consent
- stop taking responsibility for supplying electricity without the tenant’s consent
Entering a rental unit
A landlord may only enter a rental unit for certain reasons. With some exceptions, a landlord must give a tenant 24 hours written notice before entering the rental unit. In most cases, the landlord may only enter between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Under the act, it is an offence to enter a rental unit:
- for a reason that is not allowed under the act
- without giving the tenant the required notice
- at a time that is not allowed under the act
It is an offence for a tenant to stop the landlord from entering the unit when a proper notice has been given. It is also an offence for a tenant to change the locks without the landlord’s consent.
Landlords are encouraged to limit notices to enter, work collaboratively with their tenants, and to follow public health guidelines.
Rent and extra fees
It is an offence to:
- charge more rent than is allowed under the act
- charge additional rent after the tenancy has ended and the tenant has moved out
- force a tenant to pay an above guideline rent increase before it has been approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB)
- make a tenant or potential tenant buy anything from the landlord or an existing tenant to secure or keep a rental unit (for example, requiring a potential tenant to buy window coverings or furniture if they want to rent the space)
- refuse to give a tenant or former tenant a rent receipt on request
- charge a tenant, sub-tenant or potential tenant additional fees, such as a damage deposit or charging for air conditioning when it is already included in the lease
- fail to return a rent deposit to a tenant if the landlord cannot give the tenant possession of the rental unit
- use a tenant’s rent deposit for something other than the last month’s rent
- not pay the tenant annual interest on their rent deposit
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 it is an offence:
- for a landlord (or someone acting on behalf of a landlord) to do things that would interfere with a tenant’s ability to enjoy living in their rental unit
- to threaten, interfere with, or harass a tenant to move out of a rental unit
- to try to stop a tenant from forming or taking part in a tenants’ association
It is an offence to interfere with or try to stop a landlord or tenant from:
- taking part in a hearing
- filing an application under the act
- exercising their rights under the act
It is an offence under the act:
- to disobey a LTB order requiring the landlord to do specific repairs or stop doing certain things.
- to stop political candidates or their agents from canvassing on the property
- to stop an investigator from entering a building to carry out a search warrant
- for an agent representing a landlord or tenant at the LTB to charge a contingency fee that is higher than 10%
Care homes provide housing for people who need care services, such as health care, rehabilitation, or assistance with daily living. The following offences are specific to landlords of care homes. All other offences in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 also apply.
It is an offence to:
- withhold or interfere with the reasonable supply of a care service or food
- interfere with additional services provided to a tenant by an external care provider (for example, healthcare provider)
- prevent a tenant from getting additional care services from a person of their choice
- increase the cost of care services or meals without giving 90 days’ notice of the increase
- give notice of a rent increase or a notice of increase for a charge without giving the tenant an information package first
Mobile home parks and land lease communities
Mobile home parks are land on which one or more mobile homes are located and used as permanent residence. A land lease home is a permanent dwelling that is owned by the tenant but is built on land rented from the landlord.
The following offences are specific to landlords of mobile home parks and land lease communities. All other offences in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 also apply.
It is an offence to:
- stop a tenant from buying goods or services from any person
- interfere with a tenant trying to sell or lease a mobile home or land lease home
- force a tenant to sign an agency agreement for selling or leasing their mobile home or land lease home
Non-profit housing co-operative member units
Non-profit housing co-operatives (co-ops) are managed by the residents. Member-elected boards are responsible for management. The co-op sets their own rules and responsibilities by creating by-laws according to the Co-operative Corporations Act (CCA).
Non-profit housing co-operative units may be occupied by:
For non-member units, most of the common rules under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 apply. However, these units are exempt from some of the rent rules.
Offences for member occupied units are covered by Section 94.17 of the act. Under this section, it is an offence:
- to stop a member from filing an application under the act or from taking part in a hearing
- to prevent a member from belonging to, taking part in or forming a members’ association
- for a member to interfere with or prevent a non-profit housing cooperative from filing an application under the act, exercising their rights, or from taking part in a hearing
- to take possession of a member unit without following the rules under the act or the Co-operative Corporations Act (illegal lock out)
Ending tenancy because of domestic or sexual violence
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 has a special provision that allows a tenant to break their lease early if they have experienced domestic or sexual violence. When a tenant uses the special provision, it is an offence for the landlord to:
- advertise the availability of the rental unit before the tenant moves out
- fail to keep the special provision notice and any supporting documentation confidential
It is an offence under the act for anyone to give a document with false or misleading information to:
- the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit
- the Landlord and Tenant Board
If you are convicted of an offence under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, the penalty is:
- a fine of up to $50,000 for an individual
- up to $250,000 for a corporation