Laws in our lives

Community Opinion & Analysis Jan 11, 2013 at 12:24 pm

By Reena Basser

There is so much protection offered to the tenant by the Ontario government, that I think it’s wise to go over some of the main topics on this issue that effects many people. My column is meant to bring to light some of the key points of Ontario Law. I am a Paralegal practicing in North York, which means that I am not a lawyer, but have legal training and am licensed to go to court and give people advice and fill out forms and other things all regulated by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

LEAVING YOUR APARTMENT: What type of lease do you have? If your lease has not expired, check the terms of the lease and see if you have signed a one year lease, which is the most typical type today. You have a commitment towards that one year to pay the designated rent. You may talk to your Landlord about breaking your lease; if he agrees, get the agreement in writing, including the date you will be leaving. Both you and the Landlord must sign the agreement. The Tenant, even if he wants to leave after the one year, must give the Landlord SIXTY (60) days notice and it must be in writing.

If you must vacate early, you are permitted to find a sublet or “assignee” by advertising yourself. If the Landlord disagrees with this arrangement, phone a Paralegal who can help you exercise your rights. A person who takes full responsibility for the apartment and the lease is called an “Assignment” and it is preferable to a “sublet” who pays but does not take responsibility for the apartment.

If you do not have a lease but you pay monthly, you still have an agreement and you still must provide 60 days written notice if you are planning to vacate.

RENT: If a tenant moves into an apartment the Landlord can charge ANY rent they wish. If you feel it’s too high, you can negotiate a lower rent. You should do this prior to your move and compare the prices to the other units in the apartment or in the same neighbourhood. Even if you move into a new unit in the same building, you will be considered a new tenant, thereby allowing the Landlord to raise the rent.

PETS: Say you have a nice dog, well-trained and not violent. If the Landlord says, “get rid of your pet or move out”, he is breaking the law. He cannot enforce a lease with a “no pet” clause as the law protects those tenants who have a pet. However, if the pet is dangerous, causes allergic reactions or causes problems for other tenants or the Landlord, you may be asked to vacate. The Landlord has a legal right to terminate your tenancy based on these problems. You are not obligated to get rid of your pet until the Landlord and Tenant Board issues a written order to do so.

HEAT: Apartment too cold? Temperatures are set according to municipal bylaws. In Toronto, the temperature must be set at a minimum of 21 c (70 F) from September 15 to June 1. If you, the tenant, are not the cause of the cold temperatures, such as keeping your windows open, or lowering the thermostat to a low temperature, you can complain to the city’s Building and Inspections department or your city councilor. Other minimum standards: Brampton and Mississauga: 20C (68F).

Note: all information provide in this column is intended for TENANTS, rather than those with commercial leases.

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Reena Basser Licensed Paralegal Phone: 647-210-1775, office near Wilson and Bathurst. Help for Tenants, Traffic Tickets and Small Claims Court