Neighbourhood Legal Services offers information, advice and representation to low income tenants with their housing issues. If you are having a problem with your rental unit or your landlord, we can help explain your rights and obligations under the law. We can also advise you when to get help from another service and how to take legal action to deal with your issue. In some cases we will represent you.
We offer free summary advice for tenants as part of our Tenant Duty Counsel program. This service is generally available on Wednesday mornings from 9am-12pm, and all day Thursdays and Fridays.
Tenant Duty Counsel is a walk-in service that assists tenants on a first come, first served basis. There is no guarantee that Tenant Duty Counsel will be available to speak with you. If you have to make special arrangements in order to attend our office, please call us the morning of to see if Tenant Duty Counsel is available that day. We can be reached at 519-438-2890.
Recent Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006
The Rental Fairness Act, 2017 expands rent control to all private rental units, including those occupied on or after November 1, 1991. Effective April 20, 2017, landlords cannot raise rents more than the rent increase guideline, which is 1.5 per cent in 2017. Any rent increase notices above this amount given on or after April 20 must be reduced to 1.5 per cent.
The legislation also introduces additional protections for tenants, including:
- Enabling a standard lease to help both tenants and landlords know their rights and responsibilities, while reducing the number of disputes
- Protecting tenants from eviction due to abuse of the “landlord’s own use” provision
- Ensuring landlords can’t pursue former tenants for unauthorized charges
- Prohibiting above-guideline rent increases in buildings where elevator maintenance orders have not been addressed
- Removing above-guideline rent increases for utilities, to protect tenants from carbon costs and encourage landlords to make their buildings more energy efficient.
Landlords can continue to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for above-guideline rent
increases where permitted, and can also determine rent levels for new tenants.
What to do if you have a problem as a tenant
There are various laws that impact your rights as a tenant:
- The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (“RTA”) deals with most landlord and tenant disputes.
- The Housing Services Act, 2011 (“HSA”) also applies to you if you live in subsidized or social housing.
- If you live in a non -profit co-op, the Co-operative Corporations Act applies along with the RTA and HSA.
Not paying your rent on time is the most common legal problem tenants have to deal with. Causing damage or a disturbance at your rental complex is also a common legal problem for tenants. In these types of situations, the landlord may try to evict you at the Landlord and Tenant Board (“LTB”).
The LTB also helps tenants enforce their rights, e.g. when the landlord refuses to do necessary repairs.
A tenant or a landlord can go to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) if they have a dispute. The LTB is like a court and involves filling an application which may cost money.
Members of our staff are at the LTB to give advice and information on the day of your hearing. This is called “duty counsel.” Ask to talk with us – it’s free.
A tenant and landlord can try to settle a case using a mediator at the LTB if an application has been started. If the issue doesn’t settle, you will have the opportunity to speak with an adjudicator who will listen to both sides and make a decision at a hearing.
It is possible to appeal an LTB decision to court if there is a serious error in it, but legal advice is necessary to take that step.
Social housing tenants deal with rent subsidy disputes directly with their landlord. The process is called a “review”. The tenant asks for the review and explains why the decision is wrong. This should be done before you get to the LTB if possible. There is no appeal to the court if an unfavourable review decision is made. Tenants should get legal advice from our office right away when faced with a subsidy problem.
Landlords cannot take action against you unless they have given you the proper paperwork. Usually you will get a letter or a notice that tells you what the problems is and what the landlord is going to do. Often you can do something to stop any further action. If the landlord wants to evict you, they must first file an application to the LTB, then the LTB will send you a notice in the mail telling you when to show up for a hearing. Call us for information and advice if you get any paperwork from your landlord.
If you need to get repairs done, first ask the landlord to fix the problem. If nothing is done, write a letter and ask the landlord to do the repair by a certain date. Keep a copy of the letter. If nothing is done, call the City and ask them to send a property standards inspector to your unit. The property standards office may be able to get the landlord to make the repair. If there is a health concern about your repair issue, contact the health unit. If your problem still isn’t fixed, you will have to take the landlord to the LTB. Call us if you are having repairs problems.
What if you’re a landlord?
If you are a landlord seeking information about your legal rights and obligations, check out the Landlord’s Self-Help Centre. The Landlord’s Self-Help Centre is a specialized legal clinic that provides information, summary advice and referrals exclusively to small-scale landlords.
Get to Know
The Landlord and Tenant Board resolves disputes between residential landlords and tenants and eviction applications filed by non-profit housing co-operatives.
The LTB also provides information about its practices and procedures and the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act.
The Property Standards By-laws address different scenarios, both in rental and owner occupied properties.
If you’re a tenant, they might be able to help you with maintenance and repair problems like safety and structural problems in your building, pests such as cockroaches, issues with vital services (e.g. lack of heat/hydro/water) and interior/exterior property maintenance.
The health unit watches out for, identifies and addresses public health issues that can affect you, your family and your neighbours. They can provide information and assistance with health issues affecting your unit such as beg bugs and mould.
The Housing Stability Bank offers financial assistance to low income Londoners to obtain and retain their housing and offers financial assistance to those at risk of homelessness to remain housed.
They can provide rental assistance, emergency utility assistance, help completing the application to Ontario Electricity Support Program, and provide connections and referrals to community resources.
Last updated September 29, 2017