January 2009

for rent

Over the last year of blogging, I’ve noticed that I’ve received the MOST inquiries about tenant and landlord rights, so I thought it’d be a good time to go over some of the essential things you need to know.

Landlord and tenant rights in Brampton are governed by the Landlord & Tenant Act of Ontario.

I’ll list some of the most commonly asked questions and their answers, and then provide a link at the end for anyone who needs more information.  These questions are taken directly off the Landlord & Tenant Board website of Ontario.

Can the landlord refuse to rent to a person if they have a pet?

Yes, if a landlord has a “no pets” policy and they learn that a person applying to rent an apartment has a pet, the landlord may refuse to rent to that person.

Can a landlord ask a person applying for a rental unit to provide information about their Income, credit references and rental history?

Yes, when choosing a new tenant, a landlord can ask the person applying for the rental unit to provide information such as: current residence, rental history, employment history, personal references and income information (if credit references and rental history information are also requested).  However, the Ontario Human Rights Code has special rules about asking for information about the income of a prospective tenant.  Landlords must follow these rules.

Who is responsible for maintaining the 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.

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).

If the landlord refuses to do the repairs or the tenant thinks that the landlord is taking too long to deal with them, the tenant has several options.

See the Board’s brochure on “Maintenance & Repairs” for information about what a tenant might do.

When does a landlord have to turn the heat on?  What temperature does my landlord have to keep my apartment at?

If a landlord provides heat, the Act requires the landlord to keep the heat to at least 20 degrees Celsius from September 1 to June 15.  In addition, many municipalities have their own property standards or bylaws about heat.  You should contact you local municipal government to find out if your community has a bylaw that sets minimum standards for heat.

What can a tenant do if their landlord does not turn on the heat?

Heat is a vital service.  If the landlord is responsible for providing heat and the landlord does not provide heat to the standards identified in the previous question, the landlord may be committing an offence.  You may call the Investigations and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing at 416-585-7214.

Can a landlord enter a tenant’s unit?

The Residential Tenancies Act (the Act) allows a landlord to enter a tenant’s unit only under specific circumstances.  In most cases, the landlord must first give the tenant 24 hours written notice, stating when they will enter and for what reason.  There are some exceptions, however, such as in the case of an emergency or if the tenant agrees to allow the landlord to enter the unit.

For more information about when a landlord can enter a tenant’s rental unit, see A Guide to the Residential Tenancies Act.

Can a tenant refuse to let the landlord in if the landlord wants to enter their unit?

If the landlord enters the tenant’s unit as allowed by the Act, the tenant cannot refuse to let the landlord in. If the tenant does not let the landlord in, the landlord can give them a notice of termination claiming that the tenant is interfering with their lawful rights.  A Member could order the tenant’s eviction for this reason. Also, interfering with a landlord’s lawful right is an offence under the Act, and the tenant could be prosecuted.

For information about when a landlord can enter and how much notice a landlord is required to give before entering a tenant’s rental unit, see A Guide to the Residential Tenancies Act.

What can happen if a landlord enters a unit illegally?

If a landlord enters a tenant’s unit illegally, the tenant may file an application with the Board. If the Board finds that the landlord has entered the unit illegally, there are a number of things that the Board may order. For example, the tenant could receive an abatement of rent or the landlord could be ordered to pay a fine. What is ordered is up to the Member who hears the application.

For information about when a landlord can enter and how much notice a landlord is required to give before entering a tenant’s rental unit, see A Guide to the Residential Tenancies Act.

Can a tenant change the locks?

A tenant cannot change the locks unless the landlord agrees.  Also, the tenant cannot add locks that might stop a landlord from entering the unit if there is an emergency or if the landlord has a valid reason for entering the rental unit and the landlord has given the tenant proper notice to enter.  If the tenant does change the lock, a copy of the key should be given to the landlord immediately.

Can the landlord change the locks?

A landlord can change the locks while the tenant is living in the unit as long as they give the tenant a key for the new lock.

Note:  Once a tenant has been evicted from the unit, the landlord can change the locks, even if the tenant has left property in the unit. The landlord does not have to give the former tenant replacement keys in this case.

How often can the rent be increased?

The landlord cannot increase the rent for a new tenant until 12 months after the tenancy started.   Then, the landlord is allowed to increase the rent once every 12 months.

Does a landlord have to notify a tenant of a rent increase?

Yes.  In order for a landlord to increase the rent, the landlord must give a written notice of rent increase to the tenant at least 90 days before the day the rent increase is to start. The notice must tell the tenant how much the new rent will be and when to begin paying the new rent.  If the tenant thinks that the new rent is too high and they do not want to pay it, this allows the tenant enough time to give the landlord proper notice of termination and move out before the rent increase begins.

Does a landlord have to give rent receipts?

Yes, if a tenant asks for them.  The Act requires a landlord to provide rent receipts, free of charge, to a tenant when the tenant asks for them. A tenant can ask for a receipt for any payment or deposit the tenant gives to the landlord, including a payment for rent arrears.  It is an offence for a landlord to fail to provide a rent receipt when one is requested by a tenant.

This rule also applies to a former tenant – The landlord must provide a former tenant with receipts if they request it, as long as the former tenant makes their request within one year of the date they moved out.

What information must be provided in a receipt?

A rent receipt must include at least the following information:

  • the address of the rental unit;
  • the name of the tenant(s) to whom the receipt applies;
  • the amount and date for each payment received for any rent, rent deposit, arrears of rent, or any other amount paid to the landlord and shall set out what the payment was for;
  • the name of the landlord; and
  • the signature of the landlord or the landlord’s agent.

When is the rent considered late?

Rent is considered late if it is not paid by the day that it is due.  For example, if the rent is due on the 1st of the month and it is not paid by on that day, it is late.

If a tenant is late with their rent, what can the landlord do?

If a tenant does not pay rent on the date that it is due, the landlord can give the tenant a Notice to End a Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent (Form N4). This notice gives a tenant who pays rent monthly 14 days to pay the rent due or to move out. If the rent is not paid, and the tenant does not move, the landlord can make an application to the Board for an order:

  • requiring the tenant to pay the rent that is owing, and
  • evicting the tenant if they do not make the entire payment by a specified deadline

See the Board’s brochure on If a Tenant Does Not Pay Rent for more information.

If a tenant is often late with the rent, the landlord may give a Notice to Terminate a Tenancy at the End of Term (Form N8) for persistently paying rent late.  Daily or weekly tenants must be given 28 days notice and in all other cases, the tenant must be given 60 days notice.  In this case, the landlord can apply to the Board for an order evicting the tenant right after giving the tenant the notice.

Can a landlord charge a person a deposit or a fee to rent a unit?

Yes, a landlord can collect a rent deposit if it is requested on or before the day that the landlord and tenant enter into the tenancy agreement. The rent deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent or the rent for one rental period, whichever is less.   For example, if rent payments are made weekly, the deposit cannot be more than one week’s rent; if rent payments are made monthly or bi-monthly, the deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent.

The rent deposit must be used for the rent for the last month before the tenancy ends.  It cannot be used for anything else, such as to pay for damages.

Does a landlord have to pay interest if a rent deposit is collected?

Yes, the landlord must pay the tenant interest on the rent deposit every 12 months.  The amount of interest that a landlord must pay is the same as the rent increase guideline that is in effect when the interest payment is due.  The guideline is set each year by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.  Information about this year’s rent increase guideline can be found in the Brochures by Topic section of our website.

Note:  Landlords may deduct the amount needed to update the rent deposit (so that it equals the current rent) from the interest that is owed to the tenant.  See previous question.

If the landlord does not pay the interest owed to the tenant when it is due, the tenant can:

How much notice does a tenant have to give if they want to move out?

When a tenant decides to move, they must provide a written notice of termination to the landlord. In most cases, this is a 60-day notice. The termination date must be the last day of their rental period or their lease, even if this is more than 60 days.

For example, if it is a monthly tenancy that begins on the first day of each month and the tenant gives the landlord notice on June 15th, the termination date would be August 31.

In the case of a weekly tenancy, the tenant must give the landlord at least 28 days notice before the last day of the final week of the tenancy.

If the tenant pays rent on a daily basis, 28 days is also required.

For more information, see the brochure on How a Tenant can End Their Tenancy.

Can a tenant break a lease?

Breaking a lease means that a tenant wants to leave their unit before their tenancy agreement is over.  For example, a tenant who signed a one year lease might want to leave their unit in the eighth month.

A tenant and landlord can agree to break a lease. It is best for both parties if this agreement is in writing and is signed by the landlord and the tenant. If the landlord is not willing to break the lease, the tenant has the right to assign the unit to a new tenant with the landlord’s consent.

For more information see the brochure on How a Tenant can End Their Tenancy.

What is the difference between assigning and subletting a unit?

Assigning a unit means that the tenant moves out of the unit permanently and transfers their tenancy to another person.  All the terms of the original rental agreement stay the same – the amount of the rent and what services are included etc.   For more information about the rules for assigning a tenancy, see our brochure on How a Tenant Can End Their Tenancy.

Subletting a unit means that the tenant moves out of their unit for a specific period of time but the tenant plans to move back into the unit before the end of the tenancy. The person who moves in is known as a subtenant.  They are responsible to pay the rent to the original tenant who then pays it to the landlord.  A landlord cannot refuse the idea of subletting the unit, but they can refuse to allow the tenant to sublet to a specific person if they have a good reason.

How can a tenant sublet their unit?

If a tenant has to leave their unit for an extended period of time but they want to return to it, they can ask their landlord for consent to sublet the unit.   For example, if a tenant’s job is being transferred to another city for six months and then they want to return to their unit, they might ask their landlord if they can sublet the unit. They must tell the landlord when they are leaving and when they will be returning to the unit, and they must get the landlord’s consent before subletting.

A landlord cannot refuse the idea of subletting a unit, but they can refuse a specific person if they believe the person is unsuitable.  However, if the tenant thinks that the landlord is being unreasonable in withholding their consent to sublet to someone, the tenant can file an application with the Board.

The application that a tenant may file is the Application About a Sublet or an Assignment (Form A2).

What happens if a tenant assigns or sublets their unit without the landlord’s consent?

If a tenant assigns or sublets their unit without their landlord’s consent, it is an unauthorized assignment or sublet.  A landlord can file an application with the Board to evict both the tenant and the unauthorized occupant.  However, if the landlord does not file the application within 60 days of discovering the unauthorized occupant, the unauthorized occupant will become a tenant.

The application that a landlord may file is the Application About a Sublet or an Assignment (Form A2).

What is the process for evicting a tenant?

In most situations, before a landlord can apply to the Board to evict the tenant, they must first give the tenant a Notice of Termination that tells the tenant what the problem is.  For some termination notices, the landlord must wait a specific number of days to see if the tenant corrects the problem before they can file the application with the Board. The number of days the tenant has to correct the problem is set out in the notice.  If the tenant does not correct the problem and/or does not move out, the landlord can file an application with the Board and in most situations a hearing will be scheduled.

At the hearing, the parties can appear in front of a Member of the Board.  The Member will listen to what each person has to say and then make a decision.

If an eviction order is issued, it tells the tenant when they must be out of the unit. If they do not move out, then the landlord can file this order with the Court Enforcement Office. Only the Sheriff can evict a tenant who does not leave a unit as directed by an eviction order issued by the Board

Can a tenant be evicted without a hearing?

Yes, for some types of applications an ex parte order can be issued without holding a hearing.

Can a tenant be evicted in the winter?

Yes. There is nothing in the Residential Tenancies Act that prevents a tenant from being evicted during the winter months.

For what reasons can a landlord evict a tenant?

There are different reasons for evicting a tenant.

For some reasons, a landlord can only evict a tenant at the end of the tenancy agreement (at the end of a lease) – in most of these situations, the tenant has not done anything wrong, but the landlord needs the unit back.

Other reasons allow a landlord to evict a tenant in the middle of their tenancy agreement or lease– these are generally situations where the tenant or someone the tenant let into their building has done something wrong.  For example, the tenant has not paid their rent or has damaged the rental property.

Information about the reasons for evicting a tenant are explained in the Board’s brochure, A Guide to the Residential Tenancies Act.

Can a landlord evict a tenant for having a pet?

A tenant can be evicted for having a pet in their unit only if:

  • the pet is making too much noise, damaging the unit, or causing an allergic reaction, or
  • the animal or species is considered to be inherently dangerous.

Even if the tenancy agreement has a ‘no pets’ rule in it, the tenant cannot be evicted just for having a pet unless the Board decides in an order that the pet is causing a problem, or that the pet is inherently dangerous.

Can a tenant be evicted for having a roommate?

No, a tenant cannot be evicted simply for having a roommate.  However, a tenant may be evicted if the roommate is causing a problem for the landlord or for other tenants.  For example, if the roommate is making a lot of noise, damaging the unit, or there are too many roommates (overcrowding), the landlord can serve a notice of termination and apply to evict the tenant and any other occupants of the unit.

Can a tenant be evicted if the landlord wants to use the unit themselves?

Yes, a tenant can be evicted if a landlord “in good faith” requires the unit for:

  • their own use,
  • the use of an immediate family member, or
  • the use of a person who will provide care services to the landlord or a member of the landlord’s immediate family, if the person who will be receiving the care services lives in the same building or complex.

Once the landlord gives the tenant a notice terminating the tenancy for this reason, they can apply to the Board for an order evicting the tenant.  However, a tenant can only be evicted at the end of their tenancy and only if the Board issues an eviction order.

Can a tenant be evicted if the landlord sells the house and the purchaser wants to move in?

Yes, but only if the rental complex has three or fewer residential units.

A tenant can be evicted if a landlord has agreed to sell the rental property, and the purchaser requires the rental unit for:

  • their own use,
  • the use of an immediate family member, or
  • the use of a person who will provide care services to the landlord or a member of the landlord’s immediate family, if the person who will be receiving the care services lives in the same building or complex.

Once the landlord gives the tenant a notice terminating the tenancy for this reason, they can apply to the Board for an order evicting the tenant.  However, a tenant can only be evicted at the end of their tenancy and only if the Board issues an eviction order.

Can a tenant be evicted for something that their roommate or a guest they allow into the rental unit does

Yes, a number of the reasons for eviction are based on problems caused by an occupant of the unit (someone that the tenant lets live with them), or a guest that the tenant lets into their building.  So, for example, if a tenant’s guest punches a hole in the hallway wall, the landlord could give the tenant a notice of termination and, if the problem isn’t resolved, make an application to the Board to evict the tenant.

What can a tenant do if the landlord gives them a Notice of Termination?

The tenant should first read the notice to see why and when the landlord is asking them to leave. They may wish to talk to their landlord about the notice and see if the problem can be worked out. If the problem isn’t worked out, the tenant can:

  • talk to their landlord about the notice and correct the problem as outlined in the notice (if the notice was given because the landlord believes the tenant did something wrong); or
  • leave the unit as requested by the landlord; or
  • stay in the unit and see if the landlord files an application against them with the Board.  If an application is filed, the tenant can go to the hearing and tell the Member about the situation.

A tenant may also wish to phone the Board’s call centre to learn more about the eviction process and/or get some legal advice from a lawyer or legal clinic.

A tenant has the right to stay in their unit until the Board issues an eviction order based on an application filed by the landlord. A tenant cannot be legally evicted without an eviction order from the Board.

If the tenant didn’t give notice that they were leaving, but the landlord believes the tenant has left the rental unit – can the landlord change the locks and re-rent the unit?

The landlord should make a reasonable effort to contact the tenant to determine if they have in fact left the unit (for example, by writing the tenant or calling them, if the landlord has the tenant’s number).

If the landlord believes that the tenant has abandoned the rental unit, then the landlord may apply to the Board for an order ending the tenancy. Although this is not mandatory, if the landlord re-rents the unit without having the Board confirm that it is abandoned in an order, and the tenant has not really left, the tenant could take legal action against the landlord.

The application form that landlords can use is the Application to Terminate a Tenancy and Evict a Tenant (Form L2).

What can a landlord do with property that is left in the unit after the tenant has moved out or has been evicted?

This depends on a number of things such as how and when the tenant moved out, and why they moved out.  There are special rules a landlord must follow before disposing of abandoned property.  For information about the rules, you should contact the Landlord and Tenant Board.

For more information, here are the following links:

If you are a landlord and want more information, please visit: http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/en/STEL02_111286.html

If you are a tenant and want more information, please visit: http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/en/STEL02_111281.html

Best of luck!

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market.jpg

Here are the latest numbers for the real estate market in Brampton for December 2008.  Selling prices have dropped in line with the rest of the GTA.  The time it takes to sell an average home in Brampton has increased to just over 40 days.

December 2008

In December of 2008, Brampton had 1,748 active listings on the market, 530 of which were new listings. There were 22 recorded sales in this month. Here is the break down according to areas in Brampton.

W23 (Any area in Brampton west of Highway 410)

Overall
Average sale price: $310,308
Median sale price: $300,000
Average number of days it took to sell a property: 40 days
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

Detached Homes
Number of properties sold: 79
Average sale price: $347,262
Median sale price: $335,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

Semi-Detached Homes
Number of properties sold: 35
Average sale price: $260,997
Median sale price: $260,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

Condo Apartment
Number of properties sold: 3
Average sale price: $207,333
Median sale price: $215,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 98% of asking price

Condo Townhouse
Number of properties sold: 8
Average sale price: $226,763
Median sale price: $224,750
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

Attached/Row/Townhouse
Number of properties sold: 7
Average sale price: $279,414
Median sale price: $279,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 98% of asking price

W24 (Any area in Brampton east of Highway 410)

Overall
Average sale price: $319,302
Median sale price: $310,000
Average number of days it took to sell a property: 41 days
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 96% of asking price

Detached Homes
Number of properties sold: 47
Average sale price: $399,347
Median sale price: $387,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 96% of asking price

Semi-Detached Homes
Number of properties sold: 10
Average sale price: $292,040
Median sale price: $299,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 96% of asking price

Condo Apartment
Number of properties sold: 12
Average sale price: $152,843
Median sale price: $139,750
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

Condo Townhouse
Number of properties sold: 8
Average sale price: $199,875
Median sale price: $206,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 94% of asking price

Attached/Row/Townhouse
Number of properties sold: 13
Average sale price: $278,031
Median sale price: $285,900
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

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market.jpg

Here are the latest numbers for the real estate market in Brampton for November 2008.

November 2008

In November of 2008, Brampton had 2,338 active listings on the market, 939 of which were new listings. There were 327 recorded sales in this month. Here is the break down according to areas in Brampton.

W23 (Any area in Brampton west of Highway 410)

Overall
Average sale price: $305,579
Median sale price: $296,500
Average number of days it took to sell a property: 34 days
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

Detached Homes
Number of properties sold: 115
Average sale price: $343,107
Median sale price: $330,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

Semi-Detached Homes
Number of properties sold: 39
Average sale price: $279,381
Median sale price: $275,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

Condo Apartment
Number of properties sold: 9
Average sale price: $205,500
Median sale price: $211,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 96% of asking price

Condo Townhouse
Number of properties sold: 13
Average sale price: $225,608
Median sale price: $229,500
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 96% of asking price

Attached/Row/Townhouse
Number of properties sold: 23
Average sale price: $246,448
Median sale price: $249,900
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

W24 (Any area in Brampton east of Highway 410)

Overall
Average sale price: $323,680
Median sale price: $314,000
Average number of days it took to sell a property: 49 days
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 97% of asking price

Detached Homes
Number of properties sold: 62
Average sale price: $425,960
Median sale price: $387,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 96% of asking price

Semi-Detached Homes
Number of properties sold: 27
Average sale price: $288,963
Median sale price: $287,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 99% of asking price

Condo Apartment
Number of properties sold: 21
Average sale price: $159,381
Median sale price: $158,500
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 96% of asking price

Condo Townhouse
Number of properties sold: 12
Average sale price: $186,908
Median sale price: $177,500
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 96% of asking price

Attached/Row/Townhouse
Number of properties sold: 5
Average sale price: $261,180
Median sale price: $260,000
Average % of listing price a property sold for: 96% of asking price

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I am back!

January 5, 2009 · 2 comments

Hi everyone!

Well, it looks like I stayed overseas a lot longer than I intended, but it’s great to be back home. Many apologies for my very extended hiatus from the site, but I am happy to announce that I am back and will be resuming my articles and real estate work.

Stay tuned! :)

2 comments