Note: The following information relates specifically to for-profit rental housing (renting from an individual or business corporation) in Ontario. This includes renting an apartment unit, a house, a rooming house, basement apartment, condo apartment, etc.
The rules for Social Housing (TCHC), Non-Profit housing, Co-operative housing, Student dormitories, shelters, jail/prison, care homes, renting from another renter (not a landlord), or renting a space where you share a kitchen or bathroom with the landlord can be different.
Sometimes the processes are the same, and sometimes they are completely different depending on the type of housing you live in. For questions related to these types of housing please call our tenant hotline or check this page for more info.
The majority of tenants in Ontario have some sort of rights under the law. However, the type of housing can sometimes depend on which law.
Most tenants in Ontario are private-market tenants, covered under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). The RTA is 189 pages of sweeping legal rights that govern a host of elements of the landlord-tenant relationship including:
- Tenancy Agreements
Tenants who rent from an individual landlord or a business corporation landlord are usually considered to be private-market tenants covered under the RTA. It doesn’t matter if you have a written agreement or not or if you’re renting from a an apartment unit, a house, a rooming house unit, basement apartment, or condo apartment – if you’re giving money in exchange for a key, you’re usually covered under the RTA.
Tenants Not Covered Under the RTA
There are a number of exemptions under the RTA . Tenants exempt from the RTA normally have few if any rights, though they can call our tenant hotline to find out what those rights might be.
Tenants who are not covered under the RTA include:
- Tenants who rent from another renter
- Tenants who share a kitchen OR bathroom with the landlord, their spouse, child or parent
- Accommodation for travel (cabins, overnight hotels)
- Seasonal or temporary periods in a hotel (long term hotel stays are normally covered)
- Accommodation for farm employment
- Prison/Jail Accommodation
- Hospital stays
- Long-term care homes
- Accommodation in a shelter
- Student Dormitories (students with a self-contained unit are partially covered)
- Commercial tenancies
- Accommodation provided as part of rehabilitative or therapeutic services
Tenants Partially Covered by the RTA
Some tenants are exempt from parts of the RTA. These tenants normally enjoy most of the RTA protections with some part of the law that do not apply to them. These include:
- Tenants in a unit built after Nov 15, 2018 (exempt from rent control)
- Tenants in Social or Non Profit housing (exempt from many sections including rent control, guests, assignment, loss of services, etc)
- “Market-Rent” tenants in Social or Non Profit housing are also partially exempt
- Care Homes (covered by specific RTA sections only)
- Mobile Homes (covered by specific RTA sections only)
- Students renting a self-contained unit from an educational institution
- Superintendents (only covered by limited eviction provisions)
Co-op housing tenants are NOT covered under the RTA, but instead are governed by their own internal bylaws which must comply with the Cooperatives Corporation Act.
The only exception is that Co-op evictions are governed under the RTA and enforced by the Landlord and Tenant Board.
It gets complicated
With some landlord-tenant arrangements, it’s unclear if you’re covered under the RTA or not. These include:
- Tenants who also live in their commercial unit
- Tenants in rent-to-own arrangements
- Tenants who pay for their accommodation with labour instead of money
- Tenants in some boarding room arrangements
Tenants in these situations should always seek legal advice from a legal aid clinic to determine if they are covered under the law or not.
Link: Find your clinic