Tenants, you have rights too

  • April 4, 2018
  • Andrew McLeod

Sometimes situations may arise for you as a tenant that send red flags about your living space. But should you get the landlord involved? Many renters don’t realise that even something as small as noisy neighbours should legally be dealt with by your landlord. It can be a tricky balancing act to determine whether you should deal with an issue on your own or if you are able to take an issue to your landlord or property management company and have them look after it.

In Canada, tenant rights vary from province to province. As it stands, certain provinces like Ontario may have more inclusive tenant rights than others because of incredibly low vacancy rates in cities like Toronto. Generally, here are some rights you have regardless of the province in which you reside.

Application Rejection

Any great landlord will have you fill out a rental application before signing a lease and use tenant screening like Certn’s to do some background checking on their potential tenants. If your tenant application is rejected, you do have the right to ask why. If the answer has anything to do with discrimination on the following grounds, you should seek legal action: race, religion, nationality, sex, age, familial status (pregnant or with children), physical or mental disability, marital status or sexual orientation.

A landlord also cannot reject an application based on a renter’s requirement of a service animal. Even if a landlord does not allow pets, they must always allow service animals to be kept if necessary.

Security Deposits

Each province has a set deposit limit and landlords cannot exceed this limit. Also, deposits should be the same for all renters in a certain property, so if you hear of a neighbour who paid a smaller deposit than yours, you have the right to know why.

At the end of a lease, if part of a security deposit is not returned, a written list of specific uses for this spending must be provided to you. You’ll also find most provinces have a maximum amount of time a landlord can take to get your deposit back to you after you’ve moved out or given notice.

Habitable Space

As a tenant, you have the right to live in a habitable home. This means a landlord must invest in resolving issues as soon as possible in relation to holes in walls, ceilings, rooves or floors, and eliminating gross infestations of vermin like cockroaches and rats or mice.

Especially in colder climates like Canada, renters are entitled to live in spaces where heating is readily available during the winter months. If you signed a lease that states you pay for your heating, you should have control of the heat in your space directly in your unit. If you do not pay for heating and the heat for your building is controlled by the landlord, there are legal temperatures that must be maintained throughout the season. Check your heating laws of the province in which you reside as they vary.

Safety

Under federal law carbon monoxide and smoke detectors must be in your unit and in working order. If you are having issues with your detectors, inform your landlord immediately. Also, it is your duty to keep fire alarms connected, as you will likely be fined for disconnecting a detector.

If you believe any of your rights are being neglected, file a report with the Landlord Tenant Board of your province, or contact them to ask any questions you have about your rights as a tenant.

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