What tenants need to know about the law in Ontario?

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

Know your tenant rights and responsibilities, and understand how laws apply to you.

As a renter in Ontario, you have legal rights. And it’s important that you know and understand these rights. At the very least, you should have a basic understanding of the laws that apply to you and where to go if you need specific information.

Unless you are a lawyer, most legal acts, laws, regulations and documents aren’t the easiest to navigate, let alone, understand what they mean and how they apply to you.

So here is a simple breakdown of information on what you need to know as a renter in Ontario, where to find it, and what each of these documents and resources mean.

But first, do you know your rights and responsibilities?


If you are a tenant in Ontario, you have the right to:

  • Security of tenancy: you have the right to live in your rental unit until you provide your landlord with an official written notice that you intend to move out, you have reached a mutual agreement on your move, or your landlord has given you an end of tenancy notice.

  • Privacy: your landlord is allowed to enter your rental unit only for the reasons allowed by the Residential Tenancies Act.

Your responsibilities as a tenant are:

  • Paying your rent on time

  • Maintaining a clean unit

  • Repairing property damage caused by you or your guests


Established in 1962, the Human Rights Code applies to every single person, not just renters, in the province of Ontario. The code prohibits discrimination and harassment against people based on age, race, ethnic origins, disability, family status, marital status, sexual orientation, and many other grounds.

Essentially it gives equal rights and opportunities without discrimination to every citizen.

How does the Human Rights Code apply to tenants?

While the Human Rights Code applies to everyone, here are a few examples how it specifically applies to tenants in Ontario.

Tenant screening and lease applications

When it comes to tenant screening and lease applications, landlords can use income information, credit checks, credit references, rental history, guarantees and other common practices. But they have to do so in a way that aligns with the Code and its regulations.

The guide to your rights and responsibilities under the Human Rights Code states:

“Regulation 290/98 under the Code allows landlords to request income information from a prospective tenant only if the landlord also requests credit references, rental history, and credit checks. The landlord must consider income information together with all the other information obtained.”

Adult-only buildings

As of 2018, every single province in Canada has banned adult-only buildings. This means that you can’t be denied housing because you have children. Adult-only buildings aren’t permitted in Ontario. Exclusions apply to subsidized seniors’ residences and special care facilities.

For more information

For policies, guides, brochures and other information on human rights in Ontario, visit the Ontario Human Rights Commission website

To file a human rights claim, contact the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario at:

Toll Free: 1-866-598-0322

TTY: 416-326-2027 or Toll Free: 1-866-607-1240


The goal of the Residential Tenancies Act, that came into effect in 2007, is to create a rental housing system that protects tenants, helps landlords and promotes investment in Ontario’s rental housing market.

The act outlines specific guidelines that protect renting citizens against unfair rent increases and evictions, establishes a legal framework around regulating residential rent, and helps to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.

The act also explains the rights and responsibilities for tenants and landlords and sets out an enforcing guideline. As a result of establishing the Residential Tenancies Act, the Landlord and Tenant Board was also created to help resolve housing disputes, deal with eviction applications and provide information to landlords and tenants about their rights.

How does the Residential Tenancies Act help tenants?

The Landlord & Tenant Board, as part of the Residential Tenancies Act, helps resolve common tenancy challenges, such as:

  • Illegal entry to tenant’s unit

  • Illegal change of locks without providing a tenant with replacement keys

  • Illegal interference with tenants’ reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit

  • Harassment by the landlord

  • Improper maintenance of the tenant’s unit

  • Illegal rent charge

  • Failure to give back the rent deposit to the tenant

  • Refusal by the landlord to allow to sublet a unit to another person

For a more comprehensive list of concerns and applicable forms that would need to be filed, visit Landlord & Tenant Board website.  

For more information

To learn more about the Residential Tenancies Act, visit the Landlord & Tenant Board website.

Toll free: 1-888-332-3234

Toronto area: 416-645-8080

TTY: 1-800-268-9242


Established in 1974, CLEO is an independent, community-based, public legal education and information organization serving Ontario residents.

Think of it as a user-friendly hub of knowledge and information, packed with resources that remove the legal jargon and make it easy for you to understand the law and legislation.

While CLEO provides information in many legal areas, such as employment, immigration, consumer rights and many others, it is a great source for Ontario tenants, specifically.

How does Community Legal Education Ontario help tenants?

Essentially, CLEO provides access to resources and publications that address the tenant laws and regulations in clear and easy to follow language so you can understand your rights as a tenant.

Some of the topics that this organization provides answers for include:

  • Discrimination and human rights in housing

  • Eviction

  • Eviction process at the Landlord and Tenant Board

  • Getting legal help in Housing Law

  • Laws that protect tenants

  • Moving out

  • Paying rent

  • Privacy and harassment

  • Renting a new place to live

  • Repairs and maintenance

  • Tenant applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board

For more information:

To learn more about this organization, visit Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) website.

Phone: 416-408-4420

Fax: 416-408-4424

E-mail: info@cleo.on.ca


As a tenant, knowing your rights and responsibilities when it comes to law is your obligation not only because it gives you a peace of mind that you aren’t breaking any laws, but it also ensures you get fair treatment. Knowing how laws apply to you helps you make informed decisions and ups the chance to have a transparent, mutually-beneficial relationship with your landlord.

And if you are on the market for a rental property and not sure where to start, reach out to our Realtor team at OnlyWith.ca or call us at 647-490-9292. We take pride in how we treat our clients, by guiding you through the entire process of finding a great rental property, clearly explaining the intricacies involved in securing a home quickly and efficiently.

We are up to date on all market trends, provincial forms and legislation, and would be happy to provide you with any information relevant to the transaction. Here is a list of hot rental properties available today.

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