Living in a Place
Living in a place should be safe and comfortable throughout your tenancy. Read through our advice for maintaining a successful and enjoyable living experience.
As a tenant, what do you have a right to?
- A safe home: Your home must be safe and in good repair (external link) . This is true even if you knew about the problems before you agreed to rent the home.
- 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 under any circumstances other than a brief period of time to make repairs. Your landlord might pay for all or some vital services, or you might pay for them.
- Heat: Your landlord must heat your home from September 1st to June 15th. In Toronto, the landlord has to keep the heat at 21°C minimum. There are no legal rules about cooling in the summer.
- Privacy: Your landlord can enter your home only for certain reasons (external link) . 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 (external link) once in a 12-month period, to an amount within legal limits.
- Protection from unlawful eviction: You can be evicted for certain reasons (external link) only. If your landlord tries to evict you (external link) , 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.
What is required of your landlord?
- They must give you their name and contact information that they can be reached at in case of emergency, maintenance problems, etc. We encourage you to put all requests in writing.
- They must give you a signed copy of the lease within 21 days of signing the lease; otherwise you can withhold your rent until you receive it. Once you get a copy of the lease, you must pay any outstanding rent.
- They are responsible for ensuring the rental unit complies with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards which have been established to ensure rental units meet minimum standards. You do not have to take an apartment “as is” — you can request maintenance and your landlord is responsible for making repairs to bring it up to standard.
- They may not withhold or deliberately interfere with any vital services that they are obligated to provide, including hydro, gas, heat and water.
- They cannot make you sign a lease after you have moved in. If you do not have to sign one before you move in, then they cannot insist you sign one later on.
- They are legally required to give you a document entitled “Information for New Tenants” on or before your new tenancy begins. This document is issued by the Landlord and Tenant Board (L&TB) and outlines your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and contact info for the L&TB.
- They may not ask for a security deposits or damage deposit (they are not legal in Ontario). If you pay a deposit, it may only be applied as last month’s rent.
- Ensure that you know when you will be receiving the keys to the unit. The landlord should turn over the key to your unit when you pay the deposit and/or sign the lease. Always test the key in the door.
What are you responsible for as a tenant?
- Keeping your home clean. You have to keep your home in a way that most people think is clean.
- Repairing damage that you cause. Fix anything that you or your guests damage or break.
- Being reasonably quiet. Do not disturb others who live in your building.
- Obeying the law. For example, you must follow the by-laws your city has about over-crowding. This means you cannot have more people living in your unit than is allowed.
- Honouring your lease agreement. Follow the terms in your lease. If your lease has conditions that break the rules in the Residential Tenancies Act, you do not have to follow those conditions.
- Paying your rent on-time. Pay the full amount of your rent by the day that you agreed to in your lease.
- Landlords cannot require that you pay rent by post-dated cheques, but you may choose to do so as it is an easy option. Landlords must accept if you choose to pay your rent in cash on the day it is due.
- Landlords cannot require you to pay your rent in advance, excepting first and last month’s rent.
What is subletting?
Subletting involves renting out your place to another person for a portion of your lease, so someone is living in your place and paying rent while you are away.
You are the tenant, and the person who rents your unit from you is called a subtenant or sublessee. The subtenant agrees to live in your place, pay your rent, and respect the requirements of the rental agreement between you and your landlord.
What are the legal requirements of subletting?
In a subtenancy, the contractual relationship is between the subtenant and the tenant (yourself). As the tenant, you are fulfilling both the role of a tenant and a “sublandlord”.
- You are still the primary tenant, so you remain the party responsible to your landlord even once you have temporarily vacated while subletting out your place. This includes being responsible for the sub tenant's actions should s/he not respect the rental agreement, including damages and non-payment of rent or other bills owed.
- You are also responsible for being an intermediary between your landlord and your subtenant, as they are not liable to each other for breaches of the tenancy agreement or of the RTA. You must negotiate between two relationships: subtenant–“sublandlord” (yourself), and landlord–tenant (also you!).
If your subtenancy is valid under the Residential Tenancies Act (external link) , both you and your subtenant are able to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (external link) for resolution of issues such as non-payment of rent, damages, violation of lease terms and more.
In order for a subtenancy to be valid under the Residential Tenancies Act, you as the tenant must:
- Vacate the rental unit
- Give one or more persons the right to occupy the rental unit for period of time less than your lease (meaning you intend to resume living in the unit before the lease expires)
- You have obtained consent from your landlord to sublet both a) generally and b) to a specific subtenant.
What do I need to know about subletting out my place?
When can’t I sublet?
You cannot sublet your place if you live in subsidized housing, a superintendent's unit, or housing provided by a school where you work or are a student (such as Toronto Metropolitan residence).
The RTA covers sublets in which you as the original tenant plans to return and reside in the unit before the lease expires, which indicates that there must be an agreement between the landlord and yourself as the tenant for a specific term. Therefore there cannot be a sublet for a month-to-month tenancy, but you can theoretically create a subtenancy for one month less one day.
If you do not intend to return after your subtenant moves in, this is considered a lease assignment or lease takeover which is entirely different than a subtenancy.
If you are not moving out but allow another person to live in the rental unit with you, this is not considered a sublet. Rather, the new person is considered an occupant of your rental unit who is able to live at the rental unit at your invitation. If this new person is not added to the lease, s/he is considered an occupant. Occupants a) must vacate the premises at the same time as the tenant to avoid being considered an unauthorized occupant which can lead to eviction, and b) are technically unable to sublet without written consent from the master tenant and the landlord.
TIP: We encourage you to add new people to the lease to avoid issues arising between yourself, the new occupant, and the landlord. This will certify the new person’s status as “tenant” in which they have all the rights and protections that you have under your lease and the RTA.
Subletting requires permission from your landlord
You must first ask your landlord for permission to sublet. Put your request in writing and get the response in writing (email is best).
Landlords cannot unreasonably refuse your request to sublet your place but can refuse to sublet to a specific tenant based on relevant and non-discriminatory criteria (such as failing to pass a credit or background check).
As the tenant, if you sublet or assign your unit to another person without first getting consent from the landlord, it is considered an unauthorized assignment or sublet. When this happens, a landlord can file an application with the Board within 60 days to evict both the tenant (yourself) and the unauthorized occupant (your subtenant).
Note: A person who is not listed on the lease technically cannot sublet, unless s/he receives written consent from the master tenant and the landlord.
If your landlord says no to your request to sublet, does not respond to your request, rejects your proposed subtenants for discriminatory reasons (age, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) rather than a valid reason (e.g. failing a credit or background check), or charges you a sublet fee that is more than your landlord had to spend on things like advertising and credit checks, you can apply to the Landlord & Tenant Board for assistance with forcing the sublet approval or ending your lease.
How much can I charge for rent?
When subletting, you cannot charge the sublessee more than what your rent is (what you owe for rent). If you owe $1,200/month, that is the most you are also allowed to charge your subtenant. You can charge your subtenant less than what you owe, but you will have to make up the difference so your landlord receives the amount of rent specified in the rental agreement.
You may ask for last month’s rent as a deposit.
When subletting your place, you are still the party responsible to your landlord
When you are subletting your place, you are both a tenant and a “sublandlord”. Your landlord has no contractual relationship with your subtenant. You are responsible for your subtenant’s actions should s/he not respect the rental agreement–this includes damages and non-payment of rent!
As the tenant, you are still responsible for fulfilling the terms of the rental agreement with your landlord. This includes ensuring the landlord receives the rent payment on time and in full when it is owed.
If your subtenant has issues with the landlord or the rental unit, the subtenant must turn to you for resolution. You must work to resolve their issues on behalf of your subtenant; this could include coordinating repairs or requesting help from your landlord.
If a subtenant fails to fulfil their end of the tenancy agreement (such as not paying rent), your landlord will turn to you to resolve the situation (for example, you may need to cover the rent that is owed) and you will then have to take action against your subtenant.
How do I find the right subtenant?
- Talk it over with your roommates.
- If you’re planning on having a stranger move into your shared apartment, have a conversation about it first!
- Get to know your potential subtenant before agreeing to the subtenancy
- It is crucial that you are able to trust your subtenant as you are ultimately responsible for their actions during their stay.
- Interview them and make sure you feel confident before saying yes
- Use our (google slide) Roommate Compatibility Checklist (external link) to get a sense of their lifestyle
- Get references of former landlords and/or employers and follow up on them! You want to ask questions that will help you determine if this tenant will be responsible and pay their rent on time and in full.
- Communicate openly and often
- You should have multiple ways to contact each other
- If you’re going to be away for the summer, have a back-up person the tenant can check in with
- Plan to have weekly / monthly check ins
- Sign a sublease agreement!
What’s a sublease agreement? Should I sign one?
YES! In Ontario, there is no “official” sublease document but you should absolutely sign one in order to clearly establish and agree upon payment amounts and due dates, dates for moving in and out and other expectations.
To make things easier for you, we’ve designed a (google slide) step-by-step sublease guide (external link) complete with instructions, a sample agreement, and a template you can use to create your own sublease agreement.
TIP: If you are offering a monthly subtenant, you can collect last month’s rent as a deposit as long as you make a record of this and give your subtenant a rent receipt so you do not charge them twice for rent. You can also ask for post-dated cheques (note however that the subtenant does not have to pay you this way; they only owe you rent in full on the date agreed upon in the sublease).
How do I get my sublet rented?
Toronto is saturated with sublets in the summer, so you need to stand out!
Post your ad on Places4Students
- Be transparent about the cost up front.
- Sell your reader on the benefits of living in your unit
- Use high quality photos of your actual apartment
- Offer incentives to sweeten the deal! See below for ideas.
Pay your subtenant’s utilities, internet, etc.
Not having to worry about extra costs like utilities can go a long way in securing a subtenant. If you’re willing to cover even a portion of those bills (for example, up to $50 of hydro expenses each month)
Drop the sublet rent beneath market prices
The lower the sublet rental rate, the faster the unit will rent. Just remember that you will need to make up the difference so your landlord is paid the full about s/he is owed.
Offer a free month’s rent
If you’re really struggling to get your place subletted, offer a half-price or free month. Offer the final month as free to ensure the subtenant fulfils the terms of the sublease agreement.
Don't forget—if you're planning to move out at the end of your lease anyway, you have already paid your landlord last month's rent! So you can choose to waive the final month for your subtenant and not have to pay any additional funds.
Make sure your place is furnished
People looking for short-term accommodations aren’t looking to buy furniture or permanent household items (think hangers, cookware, dishes). Prepare for your place for them to move in and start living! Bonus if you leave a few rolls of toilet paper.
Be flexible and avoid fixed terms
It’s easier to sublet your place to one person for the full time you’re away, but some months subletted are better than no months at all. Consider offering month-to-month leases to appeal to a wider group of potential tenants.
Don’t miss the sublet season window – advertise early.
If you haven’t already, register with Places4Students.com (external link) and post a sublet listing for free.
Finding a Summer Sublet
If you’re looking for a place to live over the summer, you’re in luck!
Toronto Metropolitan offers full-summer accommodations on-campus:
- We offer summer housing for current Toronto Metropolitan students (even if you aren’t enrolled in classes over the summer).
- We offer summer housing for non-Toronto Metropolitan co-op students who are doing a placement in Toronto.
- We even offer summer housing if you’re not a student at all.
If you’re looking for a partial-summer accommodation, consider subletting from one of your Toronto Metropolitan peers.
How to find the perfect sublet
- Determine your needs to help narrow down your search
- What’s your maximum budget?
- Would you prefer furnished or unfurnished?
- Walking distance to your work destination or close to a transit line?
- With roommates or in your own place?
- Search on Places4Students (external link) !
- Collect all the info you can when you find an ad you like
- Ask for photos, pricing details, info on current tenants and who would be living there over the summer months (i.e., your potential summer housemates)
- Do a viewing.
- Arranging a visit offers the chance to see the apartment and meet your potential summer housemates so you have a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into.
- Check out the surrounding neighbourhood in the day and night.
- What’s around? What local amenities are nearby?
- After choosing an apartment…
- Make sure the original tenant has their landlord’s consent to sublet, before moving in. Get the landlord’s contact information and communicate with them prior to committing to move in. Keep this information in case of emergencies.
- Agree on the terms of the sublease with the tenant. This includes: the duration of your subtenancy, the amount of rent you will pay and any other fees you can anticipate being responsible for, any need-to-knows about the unit or your new roommates.
- Sign a sublease agreement with the tenant! This is a way to protect yourself as the temporary tenant of the unit.
- Prior to moving in
- Do a once-over to make sure the apartment is clean, with room for your belongings in drawers and closets… and the fridge.
- Exchange contact information with the tenant and create a plan for checking in throughout your stay. If you encounter any problems, you need to be able to get a hold of him or her.
- On move-in day…
- Take photos of the room and house in its original conditions and email it to the tenant (and landlord). This way, at the end of your stay you’ll have evidence to document any previous damage as having been there before you arrived.
Bedbugs and household pests
Bedbugs are a common and frustrating pest in Toronto. Knowing how to prevent and identify bed bugs (external link) will enable you to respond faster in getting rid of them (external link) .
Household pests such as bugs, mice, cockroaches can have serious health hazards to residents, and therefore your landlord is ultimately responsible for getting rid of them. As a tenant, you must take reasonable action to prevent them from infesting your living space.
If you discover bed bugs or pests in your home, notify your landlord immediately. If you talk in person or on the phone, follow up with an email so your conversation is recorded in writing. Your landlord will then have 72 hours to conduct an inspection of the unit and to begin taking action.
If you are unable to eliminate household pests, the landlord is obliged to hire a professional exterminator.
Molds and chemical contaminants such as heavy pesticide use or smoke from neighbouring units can be a significant problem for tenants, particularly those with allergies. The presence of mould may be indicated by one of the following:
- stains, discolouration, or bubbling on walls or ceilings;
- musty or earthy smells;
- mould, and in extreme cases, rotting wood on window sills.
If you or anyone living with you has asthma or a respiratory condition, you may be better off seeking alternative accommodation rather than renting a damp basement apartment.
Living in a place requires regular maintenance and even repairs to keep things going smoothly. The Residential Tenancies Act identifies that landlords are legally responsible for repairs and maintenance; nevertheless, it can be a slow process to get your landlord on board and your repairs underway.
We suggest following this excellent (PDF file) Self-Help Kit created by the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association (FMTA) for tenants looking to get repairs done. It offers a step-by-step guide to writing a formal letter of request for repair assistance and what to do if your landlord ignores your request.
Note: If you withhold your rent in hopes of getting your repairs done, your landlord can apply to evict you for non-payment of rent. We recommend seeking legal advice before withholding rent. Call the FMTA’s Tenant’s Hotline for free, confidential advice: 416-921-9494.
Paying rent is how to secure your right to live in a place and treat it as your home. In order to maintain this right, you must pay your rent in full and on-time each month on the agreed-upon due date.
Important news about rent increases:
Ontario has partial rent control on private rental units.
If your building/unit (this could mean apartment, condo, or basement) was constructed prior to November 15, 2018, landlords cannot increase rent more than the amount set by the Government of Ontario, known as "the Rent Increase Guideline (external link) ". The guideline is published by August 31st every year and sets the maximum percentage that rent can be increased in the following calendar year.
If your building/unit first became a rental unit on or after November 15, 2018, however, there is no limit to how much your landlord can increase your rent.
You are also not covered by any rent rules if you share a kitchen or bathroom with your landlord. Your landlord can raise your rent as much as they want and whenever they want, unless your rental agreement says they can’t.
Rent can only be raised once in a 12-month period
This means that if your lease runs September 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020, your landlord can only set your rent and not raise it during that entire time. If you plan to continue living in your place after this initial year, your landlord is allowed to raise rent in accordance with the guideline, and must provide you 90 days' written notice before raising the rent.
Learn more about how much your rent can increase (external link)
What does rent include?
If your building or complex has more than one rental unit, you also have the right to use the common areas (such as hallways, elevators, driveways, lobbies, and grounds). You also have the right to have your unit and all common areas properly repaired and maintained by your landlord.
Your rent could include other things, such as electricity, cable, parking, cleaning, or meals. Make sure your lease clearly says what is included and what is not included. If something you thought was included is not in writing, you may have a hard time proving it if you and your landlord disagree later.
When is rent due?
Your rent is owed in full on the agreed-upon date each month (or each week if you are on a weekly lease). Rent is considered late on the day after it is due: if your rent is owed on the 1st of the month, it is considered late from the 2nd onwards.
Payments and rent receipts
Methods of payment
You may choose to pay by post-dated cheque, but a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you if you do not wish to pay this way. You can pay by cheque each month or even by cash if preferred. Just be sure to pay what you owe in full and on-time each month. If you anticipate having difficulty making your rent payment, it is crucial that you let your landlord know in advance.
Always get a written rent receipt for any payments made, including your first and last month payment at the start of your lease. If the landlord does not give you a rent receipt free of charge upon request, they can be found guilty of an offence under the Residential Tenancies Act. Learn more about your rights, responsibilities (external link) , and what to do if your landlord will not give you a receipt.
Your rent receipt must include the following information:
- the address of the rental unit
- your name
- your landlord’s name
- the amount and date you made your payment
- the reason for your payment (i.e., monthly rent, last month’s rent deposit, overdue rent)
- your landlord or landlord’s authorized agent’s signature
If your tenancy is covered under the Residential Tenancy Agreement, your landlord cannot force you to re-sign a lease, or require you to commit to another full-year if you have already fulfilled the lease agreement terms from your initial lease.
In Ontario, after one year has passed from the lease start date, your lease automatically renews and rolls over to a month-to-month lease. Just like coming to the end of a 1-year lease, you still are required to give 60 days’ written notice if you wish to end your month-to-month lease.