What you need to know about paying rent in Ontario

Finding a place to rent in some Ontario cities is fairly competitive. In Ontario, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,099 in April 2015, which was up from $1,072 the year before, according to the CMHC. Rents are more expensive in cities such as Toronto ($1,669), Ottawa-Gatineau ($1,159) and Barrie ($1,122) and many of these cities also see low vacancy rates which ranges from 1.7 per cent to 2.8 per cent.

To continue living in the place they’re living, tenants are typically expected to pay rent once a month, but there are other legalities surrounding rent payments that renters may not be aware about. It’s important to be aware of the proper rules and regulations before handing over any money or a cheque.

Landlords are not allowed to request security deposits from a tenant. However they are also legally allowed to ask for one month’s rent, prior to you moving in, as a rent deposit. Some landlords may ask for post-dated cheques, but it’s within your right to refuse this request. If you do so, landlords can’t refuse to rent you the unit based on your decision. Also, if a renter requests a rent receipt, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide it.

Paying your rent on time is important since if the monthly rent isn’t paid by a day after it’s due, the landlord may issue a “Notice to terminate for nonpayment of rent”. If the renter is paying monthly, they have 14 days to pay and if they don’t, the landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for arrears.

Lease agreements aren’t required according to Ontario’s laws, but if a written lease is signed, the tenant must be given a copy of the document within 21 days of the signing date.

If a lease agreement isn’t used, the landlord has 21 days after the renter begins their stay to give the tenant their legal name and address for any communication, whether it’s to notify them that they’re moving out or for any other documents. If the landlord doesn’t do so, the tenant is not obligated to pay their rent until the landlord complies.

Once the initial lease nears expiration, the tenant and landlord can choose to renew it with the same terms or make alterations to it. Both parties need to come to an agreement and if this isn’t possible, the rent must be paid either on a month-to-month basis or a week-to-week basis, depending on the previously agreed terms.

In Ontario, there are rent guidelines that must be followed when there is a tenant living in the property. By law, landlords must only increase the rent once every 12 months and they must give a tenant 90 days notice before doing so. If a landlord wants to make a rent increase beyond these rules, they must have approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board before doing so. If there is no renter in the unit, the landlord can increase to rent by whatever amount they choose.

Before signing a lease agreement or giving your verbal consent to move into a place, make sure both you and your landlord agree on how rent should be paid to avoid any issues down the road.

Visit Renting Toronto for listings on available places for rent in Toronto. Before looking for a place to live, first have a good idea on what you want to look for. Our company has been in the business of placing competent, qualified tenants in owners and landlord’s properties since 1999 and owners have the final say on all prospective tenants.

What information can a landlord legally ask for?

Every landlord hopes to find good tenants to stay in their rental property.

When it comes time to choose a renter, landlords should do their due diligence in evaluating any potential renters since it’s in your best interest. No one wants to deal with the headache of a problem renter and this way you protect yourself and your investment by choosing the right person.

While landlords may want to know everything about a renter to help them make a decision, there are some questions landlords are not legally allowed to base their decision on.

What can a landlord ask renters about?

When a landlord meets a potential tenant for the first time, they likely want to know as much about you as you want to know about the property.

Some questions they’re allowed to ask include what your current job is and how much income you earn in a year. While this may seem too personal to you, this helps a landlord evaluate whether you earn enough to consistently pay rent on time. Landlords may also ask you to provide proof of employment from your employer since this verifies your job situation.

To learn more about a person’s financial situation, landlords are legally allowed to ask a potential renter for written permission for a credit check. While a person’s income gives landlord’s idea of how much money the renter earns, the credit check paints a better picture of the amount of debt a person is responsible for and whether they can afford their debt payments and expenses with their income. This helps a landlord ensure they won’t be stiffed on their monthly rent.

The number of people living in the space and who they are is also a question your landlords can ask. If there are other adults, a landlord may ask for their proof of employment as well. All homes are built in a way that follows health and fire safety regulations and landlords will need to know the number of people living on the property to ensure they’re follow these laws.

While renters see owning pets or smoking as their own personal choices, a landlord is allowed to ask a tenant these questions since they could be concerned that these choices will affect their property value. Landlords aren’t allowed to charge a monthly pet rent, but they can charge a pet damage deposit to renters. Each province and territory has its own pet deposit legislation, so be sure to check out details on what’s legally allowed.

A landlord may also ask for a reference, which could be your past landlord, and their contact information since they’ll want to learn more about how you are as a tenant. They might ask your previous landlord whether you paid your rent on time, whether they received many complaints while you were staying there or whether you took care of the property.

What can landlords not ask renters about?

There are some queries landlords aren’t allowed to ask potential renters about since they could infringe on a person’s human rights.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Do you plan to have more children?
  2. What is your ethnic background, religion or sexual preference?
  3. Will your family be visiting?
  4. What is your Social Insurance Number (SIN)?
  5. Are you married, single or divorced?

Visit Renting Toronto for listings on available places for rent in Toronto. Before looking for a place to live, first have a good idea on what you want to look for. Our company has been in the business of placing competent, qualified tenants in owners and landlord’s properties since 1999 and owners have the final say on all prospective tenants.

What should you look for when renting a property?

When you rent a place to live, there’s a lot that goes into your decision on where you decide you live. Before you start browsing property listings for available rooms, first figure out what you need in a space.

Cost: For most people, this is a deciding factor when they look at places to live. Always set a budget of what space you can realistically afford. If you miss payments, you may find yourself on facing an eviction notice. When meeting with any potential landlords, you’ll want to know whether the cost of the place covers monthly rent and utilities or if those need to be paid for separately. Also, learn about your tenant rights, including whether your province is regulated by rent controls.

Location: If you’re going to school or working, chances are you want to live a short distance or a short commute away. If you need to take public transit, keep an eye out for your possible routes, or if you have a car, make sure the place you’re renting has parking available and if not, where you can park. Your mode of transportation also affects what you’d like in your neighbourhood. For example, if you don’t have a car, you may want to live in an area with a nearby grocery store, a pharmacy or a bank. If you have children, you may want to live in a place near a park or near a smaller road that doesn’t see as much traffic.

Number of occupants: The number of people living in the space will determine the number of bedrooms you will need to rent. If you have children, seniors or anyone who’s physically disabled who will be renting with you, you will want to take their needs into consideration. The number of rooms you will need will also affect your budget since in certain areas, such as downtown, it’ll be more expensive to find a two- or three-bedroom space compared to renting in the suburbs.

What type of building you want to live in: Some renters may be pickier about this aspect compared to others. Typically renting a basement suite is more inexpensive compared to renting in a townhouse, but you may not be a fan of the lack of sunlight.

What does the space include: If you’re looking to rent a room in a house, you’ll want to know whether it comes with any furniture or if you’ll need to bring your own, which will affect your costs. On the other hand, if you’re looking to a rent a condo, you’ll want to know whether the unit comes with laundry, whether it’s in the suite or located in another part of the building, as well as the other amenities you can access, such as patios, a gym, a pool, an entertainment room or a BBQ. Some of these features you may be adamant on having, while others may not be as important to you.

While your preferences may change as you view properties for rent, it’s always important to have a general idea what you’re looking for so you can make a quick decision, if needed.

If you’re a first-time renter in Toronto, these commonly asked Renter FAQs will help you find the right place to live.

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