Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act

Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act

Retirement Residences fall under the definition of “care homes” in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006. Most of the same rules that apply to rental units also apply to care homes, but there are some additional rules that are specific to this type of housing[1]. A care home is defined as “a residential building where people live so that they can receive ‘care services’”. Care services include things like nursing care, medication supervision, and assistance with activities of daily living (for example bathing, dressing, etc.). The Act excludes long-term care homes, hospitals, short-term respite, and rehabilitation facilities.

Prior to the signing of a Tenancy Agreement, all care homes must give the tenant a Care Home Information Package which must contain the information required by the Act, including content relating to:

• types of accommodation

• care services

• meal packages

• staffing levels and qualifications

• the emergency response system

• a list of services and associated costs

• any internal procedures for dealing with resident complaints, including rights of appeal

A written Tenancy Agreement between landlord and tenant (resident) must list the details of the care services and meals to be provided and the cost factors involved. It must also state that “the tenant has the right to consult” with a third party and can cancel the agreement in writing within five days of signing it.

Other highlights of the Act specifically for care homes include:

• The landlord must give at least 90 days' written notice of rent increases.

• Rent can only be increased once in a 12-month period.

• Rent and care services are two different things: care services can be increased at any time, by any amount, but the landlord must give at least 90 days’ notice of a rate increase.

• If the agreement requires the landlord to do so, he may enter the unit at regular intervals to check the condition of the tenant. Permission can be revoked with written notice to the landlord from the tenant.

• A tenant can hire whomever he/she wants to provide extra care services.

• If an agreement relating to a care home is not in writing or does not detail what has been agreed to with respect to care services and meals, the tenant can apply to the Board for an abatement of rent.

• A tenant may terminate the tenancy anytime by giving the landlord a minimum of 30 days’ written notice. However, if the landlord wishes to terminate the tenancy, he/she must give the tenant 60 days’ notice.

• The landlord may terminate the tenancy if the unit was occupied solely for the purpose of receiving rehabilitative or therapeutic services agreed upon for a fixed length of time.

• A landlord, who gives notice of termination because of the intended demolition or conversion of the unit or for repairs must “make reasonable efforts to find alternative accommodation” for the tenant.

• The landlord may apply to transfer the tenant if he “no longer requires the level of care the landlord provides…or requires a level of care that the landlord…is not able to provide”. However, “appropriate alternate accommodation” must be available.

Important regulations that apply to all residential rental units include:

• The Landlord and Tenant Board handle the resolution of disputes.

• Rent increases are governed by Rent Increase Guidelines which is set each year by the Ontario Government – for 2023 the maximum a landlord can increase rent is 2.5%, unless he applies to the Board for a rental increase above the Guideline amount. The increase may be requested to cover increased taxes, charges or utility bills, major renovations or repairs, or the addition of security services to a maximum of 3% above the Guideline amount per year. If the landlord and tenant mutually agree to an increase above the Guideline amount to renovate, purchase equipment for the unit, or add a new service, their agreement must be in writing (using LTB Form N10) and can be no more than 3% above the Guideline amount. With a mutual written agreement, the landlord does not have to apply to the LTB for approval. There is a 5-day ‘cooling off period’ after signing such an agreement, during which the tenant can change their mind and revoke their decision to pay the extra increase.

• A landlord cannot charge more than one month’s rent (or if rent is paid weekly, not more than one week’s rent) in advance as a security deposit. He must pay the tenant the interest on the deposit (which is the same as the Rent Increase Guideline for Ontario) annually.

The tenant may apply for a rent reduction if the landlord:

• does not fulfill what was promised in a mutual written agreement made to increase the rent above the Guideline amount in exchange for repairs/renovations/adding a service or purchasing new equipment for a unit; or

• does not provide a previously agreed upon service/reduces or removes a service; or

• experiences a decrease in taxes and charges.

A landlord cannot interfere with the reasonable supply of vital services such as heat, electricity, fuel or water.

A prospective tenant should carefully review the Tenancy Agreement, especially with respect to requirements for pre-admission and medical reports, signing out procedures, rules for motorized equipment, smoking, overnight guests and electrical appliances. It is important to keep in mind that a landlord cannot create arbitrary rules that conflict with tenancy rights under the Residential Tenancies Act[2].

[1] Information for this section obtained, paraphrased & quoted where indicated from www.sjto.gov.on.ca/documents/ltb/Brochures/Care%20Homes%20(EN).html and www.sjto.gov.on.ca/documents/ltb/Brochures/Guide%20to%20RTA%20(English).html (July 2019). Please review both documents in detail if you require information on landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities in a rental property or care home in Ontario.

[2] The information in this section is by no means complete and is only intended to highlight some important aspects of the RTA. It is NOT intended to be used in lieu of legal or professional advice. For further information on the legislation contact the Landlord and Tenant Board at 1 (888) 332-3234 or www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing at www.ontario.ca/page/ministry-municipal-affairs-housing or a lawyer. A copy of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 can be accessed online at www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/060516.

If you are looking for assistance locating a home or resources for your loved one, you can reach out to our consulting team at consulting@seniorcareaccess.com or visit our consulting page for more information. Our Discover 3 program offers decision-makers and seniors, an opportunity to have a professional consultant identify 3 housing solutions based on their needs. 
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59 other articles by Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW