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Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act

Province: ON

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.). Excluded from the Act are 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 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, as well as 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 a minimum of 30 days’ written notice to the landlord. 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 resolution of disputes is handled by the Landlord and Tenant Board.

• Rent increases are governed by Rent Increase Guidelines which is set each year by the Ontario Government – for 2018 the maximum a landlord can increase rent is 1.8%, 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.

• 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 and must pay the tenant the interest on the deposit (which is the same as the Rent Increase Guideline for Ontario) annually.

• Landlords and tenants may also agree to add parking fees and other services such as cable, lockers, etc., to the rent without applying to the Board.

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

• does not make agreed to repairs or improvements contained in the lease

• does not provide a previously agreed upon service e.g. maintenance

• experiences a decrease in taxes and charges

• reduces or removes a service

A landlord cannot interfere with the reasonable supply of vital services such as heat, natural gas 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 and (July 2017).

[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, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing at or a lawyer. A copy of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 can be accessed online at

Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW


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