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by A. Anderson Trent
The central Toronto waterfront exemplifies the scope of resurgence in condominium and private real estate investment. With many buildings coming available for occupancy, investors and tenants alike will soon face the logistics of renting, as well as the red tape surrounding Ontario tenancies.
Q: Do the tenancy laws apply to private condo rentals ?
Absolutely. The same rent control restrictions and tenancy laws applicable to institutional landlords apply to private condominium rentals (with minor exceptions).
What types of things are regulated ?
The regulatory structure is fairly comprehensive and includes such things as lease requirements, privacy rights, permissible charges and increases, minimum notice requirements (generally 60 days for a monthly tenancy) and landlords’ remedies on non-payment or breach of lease. Many of the provisions address the conflicting rights of the parties during some of the logistical problems inherent in renting. For example, the legislation provides how the landlord can show the unit to new tenants after the current tenant gives notice to leave.
I am a tenant. Do I need to worry about this ?
In private rentals, landlords might not be aware of their rights and obligations. It helps to stay informed. Knowing where everyone stands is the best way to avoid conflict.
As a tenant, can I add whatever I want to the lease?
Usually not. The regulations supercede any lease or private agreement so that even the best drafted lease will not alter your rights. Leases that contain more restrictive provisions (such as a prohibition against overnight visitors) can be held to be inconsistent with the legislation and can result in protracted litigation, rent rebates and even fines. The general rule is that during the term of their lease, the tenant is entitled to the same “reasonable enjoyment” of the premises “for all usual purposes” as an owner would have, subject of course to the legislation.
Where do I find updated tenant information ?
Historically, sweeping changes to tenancy laws come with each new government. Minor changes happen almost monthly. Even lawyers other than those who specialize in the area find it hard to keep track. It is a (my) full time profession. The Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal provides access to the updated legislation, regulations and guidelines. They also provide basic how-to information along with a number of informative pamphlets from their website at www.orht.gov.on.ca or via telephone (416-645-8080). The Tribunal has 3 convenient locations where you can access information. Specialists are available at the Tribunal offices (where the hearings take place) and are a good source for opinions and referrals.
A. Anderson Trent is a Toronto realty consultant quoted by the Globe & Mail, seen on CTV News and heard on Talk 640