What are my rights as a tenant?

As a tenant in Ontario, you have legal rights. These rights are explained in the Human Rights Code and the Residential Tenancies Act.

The Human Rights Code applies to every person in Ontario. The Residential Tenancies Act applies to most people who rent their housing.

Before you rent

Your landlord cannot discriminate against you because of your:

  • Race, place of origin or ethnic origin;
  • Religion;
  • Sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression;
  • Family or marital status; or
  • Disability or age.

For example, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because you are a newcomer to Canada or because you have children. You can read more about discrimination and renting a new home on the StepsToJustice.ca website.

After you move in

Once you move into your home, you have important rights. Some of these rights include the right to:

  • A Safe Home: Your home must be safe and in good repair. This is true even if you knew about the problems before you agreed to rent the home.
  • Tenant Insurance: You may be obligated to have tenant insurance as part of your lease. In the event of an accident (even one you didn't cause), having tenant insurance can protect you and cover the expenses associated with the damages.
  • Vital Services: You must have access to heat, hot and cold water, electricity, and fuel (such as natural gas). Your landlord cannot shut off these services, even if you have not paid your rent. Your landlord may shut off services for a short time so that they can make repairs. Your landlord might pay for vital services, or you might pay for them.
  • Heat: Your landlord must heat your home from September 1 to June 1. The landlord has to make sure the heat is at 20°C or more. Some cities have a higher heat standard or slightly different dates. Check with your municipality to find out more about minimum heat standards in your community.
  • Central Air: If your rental unit has central air conditioning, your landlord may be required by your municipality to maintain a maximum temperature of not more than 26°C between June and September.
  • Privacy: Your landlord can enter your home only for certain reasons. For example, your landlord can enter your home to make repairs or show the home to possible tenants or in an emergency.
  • Controlled rent increases: Your landlord may raise your rent once in a 12-month period. The amount of the increase has to be within legal limits. There are special circumstances when a landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to raise it more than the limit in a given year.
  • Protection from unlawful eviction: You can be evicted for certain reasons only. If your landlord tries to evict you, you have the right to a hearing with the Landlord and Tenant Board.
  • Children in the home: You have the right to have children living in your home. Your children and family have the right to make a "reasonable" amount of noise.
  • Documents: You have a right to a written copy of your tenancy agreement, written notice of your landlord's legal name and address, and rent receipts.

You can contact a legal clinic or housing help centre for more information. To find help in your area, go to Services Near Me.

As a tenant, you also have responsibilities. Please read What are my responsibilities as a tenant? to find out more.

For More Information

  • Landlord and Tenant Board - Provides information about the RTA and resolves disputes between most residential landlords and tenants.
  • CLEO - Landlord & Tenant Law - Find clear language publications on the rights of tenants in rental housing.
  • What Tenants Need to Know About the Law - Topics covered include rent increases, deposits and other charges, repairs and maintenance, privacy, moving out, and eviction.
  • Human Rights for Tenants - Information for tenants about their human rights in relation to housing. This brochure is from the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).
  • Housing Law - The Steps to Justice website offers legal information on many topics in plain language.
Last updated: July 6, 2022 4001270