Rent

— Do I have to serve a notice of rent increase? 

Yes. Any residential rent increase in Ontario can be deemed invalid if it is not served on the proper form, with the proper notice. (Form N1, 90 days notice) 

— What is “legal” rent? 

Rent that has been increased according to the guidelines, with proper notice served. 

— Do I have to pay tenants interest on their last month’s deposit? 

Yes. Landlords must pay interest to the tenant every year. The interest paid is the same as the province's cap on rental increases for that year. For 2016, the cap — and thus the interest payable — is 2.0%. Be sure to pay the interest by cheque and get the tenant to sign a receipt.

— Can I charge a damage deposit? 

No, you cannot charge a damage deposit. You can collect the last month's rent and hold it as a deposit, but it must be deducted from the rent due for the tenant's last month. If the tenant damages the premises, you have to ask them to pay for the damages or serve them a notice. If they do not pay, you have to make an application to the Landlord & Tenant Board.

Maintenance

— Who is responsible for maintaining the rental unit?

It is the landlord's responsibility to maintain the unit and ensure that it is in a good state of repair, even if:

  • the tenant was aware of problems in the unit before they moved into it, or,
  • the landlord puts into the lease that the tenant is responsible for maintenance.

However, the tenant is responsible for keeping the unit clean, up to the standard that most people consider ordinary or normal cleanliness. The tenant is also responsible for repairing or paying for any damage to the rental property caused by the tenant, their guests, or another person living in the rental unit.

— Can a tenant withhold rent because their landlord isn’t properly maintaining their building or unit?

No. If the tenant withholds rent, the landlord can give the tenant a notice of termination for non-payment of rent and then file an application to evict the tenant. There are other options for dealing with maintenance problems.

— What should a tenant do if repairs are needed to their building or unit?

A tenant should first talk to the landlord and let the landlord know what the problems are. The tenant should also put all the problems in writing and give this to the landlord or the person that takes care of these problems (e.g. the superintendent or property manager).

— Can a tenant pay their rent to the Landlord & Tenant Board if their landlord isn’t properly maintaining their building or unit?

If a tenant files a Tenant Application About Maintenance (Form T6) with the Board, the tenant may also ask to pay some or all of their rent into the Board until their application has been decided. The tenant will have to justify why they should pay into the Board and not pay the landlord directly. It will be up to the Board to determine whether or not to grant the tenant’s request. If the tenant has not filed a T6 application, the tenant cannot ask to pay their rent money into the Board.

Notices

— How do I evict my tenants?

It's very frustrating when tenants don't pay their rent, damage property, or otherwise interfere with your ability to earn income from your property. You can evict tenants, but there is a process to follow. The province of Ontario has prepared a document that explains the process. This is also something I can help you with. For legal advice, you should speak to your lawyer.

— How much notice do I need to give my tenants if I intend to sell?

There is no set notice period for informing tenants about an owner's plans to sell, but it's best to let your tenants know just before you start preparations for sale, and certainly before you list the property. 

Importantly, you, as the landlord, should not send your tenants the letter of notice, answer questions about potential buyers, or make any promises to extend leases or fixing rents. Instead, have your real estate agent do this work. I provide landlord-sellers with a letter for them to send to their tenants, then follow-up by introducing myself to the tenants and answering their questions. My clients refer all tenant inquiries to me.

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Other Resources

National Association of Home Builders, Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components (2007) - A bit dated, but still a valid overview of how often you should expect to carry out repairs or replace components in your property.

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