The Residential Tenancies Act Explained

If you are involved in a tenancy – either as a landlord or tenant – you may have heard about the Residential Tenancies Act. But what exactly is it and what does it do? We take a look and explain the details.

The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 came into effect on 31st January, 2007 after being introduced and passed in the Ontario legislature by Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal party. The opening paragraph of the act gives a clear and concise explanation of the aims of the act, stating:

“The purposes of this Act are to provide protection for residential tenants from unlawful rent increases and unlawful evictions, to establish a framework for the regulation of residential rents, to balance the rights and responsibilities of residential landlords and tenants and to provide for the adjudication of disputes and for other processes to informally resolve disputes.”

Essentially, it is there to protect the rights of tenants in Ontario and, as such, it is equally important for tenants and landlords to be aware of so that each are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

What does the Residential Tenancies Act do?

The Residential Tenancies Act covers most rental properties in Ontario, as well as care homes, retirement homes, and sites that are located in either a mobile home park or a land lease community.

An important part of the act is that it renamed the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal as the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) and then gave it “exclusive jurisdiction to determine all applications under [the] Act.” That means the LTB is defined as the body to turn to during disputes between landlords and tenants. Either side can apply to the LTB to assist in the conflict resolution and there are various steps that can be taken by the board, including mediation (where the two parties come together to find an agreement) and adjudication (where a hearing is held and then, afterwards, an LTB member issues a final order on the dispute based on the evidence heard).

The Residential Tenancies Act has several parts that are dedicated to specific elements of tenancies, including tenancy agreements, the responsibility of landlords and tenants, termination of occupancy, and rules relating to rent, among other things.

Tenancy Agreements and Rental Rules

For Tenancy Agreements, the act goes into detail about what a landlord can do in terms of vetting potential clients, explains various details that need to be included in a rental agreement, gives rulings on what is and isn’t allowed in a rental agreement, and covers some of the responsibilities of both parties while also determining what should happen in the event that one side does not meet their obligations.

There are two large sections that relate to the security and termination of rental agreements. They define when and under what circumstances a rental agreement can be terminated as well as how it should be terminated, provide details of the protections afforded to both tenants and landlords, and an explanation of recourses available with regards to disputes related to the potential termination of a tenancy.

For anyone entering into a rental agreement, especially as a landlord, it is worthwhile familiarizing yourself with these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act to ensure that you know your rights and obligations.

Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants

According to the Residential Tenancies Act, both landlords and tenants have clearly-defined responsibilities within a tenancy agreement. For landlords, some of the listed obligations relate to:

  • Keeping a rental unit in a good state of repair
  • Ensuring vital services are not withheld
  • Not harassing or interfering with the reasonable enjoyment of tenants
  • Not replacing locks without providing keys to the tenant
  • When and under what circumstances you can enter the property

Meanwhile, the act states that tenants also have legally-defined responsibilities, including:

  • Maintaining “ordinary cleanliness” of the property
  • Repairing undue damage
  • Not changing locks without the landlord’s consent
  • Not harassing, obstructing or threatening the landlord

What else?

With 18 distinct parts and 246 sections, the Residential Tenancies Act goes into great detail about many aspects of tenancy agreements. In addition to the elements listed above, there are important sections about terminating occupancy, subletting a property, rent increases or reductions, the Landlord and Tenant Board and its composition and duties, and more still.

With so much detail in the Residential Tenancies Act, it is well worth familiarizing yourself with the act. As a landlord, you need to make sure that the way you are structuring your tenancy agreements and managing your rental units is within the rules set out by the act. Likewise, as a tenant, it is worthwhile knowing some of the main points of the act to ensure that you know your responsibilities and to make you aware of what a landlord can and can’t do legally. Above all, the act gives both landlords and tenants a clear guideline of the rules and the options available to parties in the event of a dispute or a breach of the rules.

Want to know more about the Residential Tenancies Act and how it affects you? Contact us today and speak with one of our property managers, who have excellent knowledge of the act and other laws relating to residential tenancies.

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