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.
Many tenants have strong concerns about privacy and their personal information. Identity theft, safety, and how personal information is used are common concerns we hear from tenants.
Issues related to Privacy often fall into two categories: 1) personal information provided to a landlord and 2) unit entry.
Policies Around Personal Information
Under federal privacy legislation all landlords are required to have policies about the collection, storage, use and destruction of personal information collected from tenants. Your consent is often required for collection or use of your personal information.
Photos of your Unit
Under Federal Privacy legislation, landlords are not allowed to take photos of your apartment without your consent.
Rental Applications: Info that violates Human Rights
Landlords are not allowed to violate your human rights and should not be asking questions on applications that could be used to screen people out for human rights issues. Some common questions or comments in ads and applications that could result in tenants taking landlords to the Human Rights Tribunal include:
- Applications or Ads that ask about or prohibit tenants on OW or ODSP
- Applications or Ads that ask about or prohibit a tenant based on family status (single, kids, etc)
- Applications or Ads that ask about or prohibit a tenant based on disability
Rental Applications: SIN Numbers and Citizenship
While landlords are allowed to ‘ask’ for your SIN number they cannot require it as part of the application. Often landlords want your SIN to be able to run a credit check on you, however a credit check can be run woth other information.
Additionally, landlords can not ask for proof of citizenship when renting in Ontario.
Note: Newcomers without a credit history cannot be denied an apartment based on not having a credit history. Denying a tenant in this regard could be construed as discrimination based on citizenship or country of origin.
Rental Applications: What can the landlord ask for?
The following is information that is widely seen as legal for a landlord to ask for in a rental application:
- Your name and current address
- Your employment history and work references
- Previous property owner references
- Income and banking information (this includes your bank account number, bank name – or anything else that appears on a cheque)
- Credit checks and credit references A guarantor (someone who can be legally held responsible if you do not pay your rent)
Landlords in Ontario are able to enter your unit with 24 hours written notice as long as the notice a) is delivered at least 24 hours before entry b) the time of entry is within a 3 – 4 hour window between 8am – 8pm and c) the landlord gives a valid reason to enter.
Valid reasons can be as simple as a ‘general inspection’ or repair work, however if the landlord wants to do something illegal – such as taking photos without your consent, you could deny them entry.
If the notice meets these criteria, landlords are able to legally enter a unit and do not need a tenants consent to enter.
In addition, there are other times a landlord can enter your unit legally without notice. These include:
- In order to deal with an emergency such a a flood or fire (pre-scheduled repairs are not an emergency under the law)
- If landlord asks to enter and the tenant lets them in
- If either the landlord has given a legal eviction notice or the tenant has given legal notice to leave, then the landlord can show the unit to a prospective tenant if “before entering, the landlord informs or makes a reasonable effort to inform the tenant of the intention to do so.”
If your landlord wants to enter your unit illegally without proper notice you can tell them “no” and deny them entry. If a landlord has entered your unit illegally while you were not home, then you can report them to the Residential Housing Enforcement Unit or take the landlord to the Landlord and Tenant Board.