LEGAL RIGHTS BULLETIN: Tenant Responsibilities and Landlord Rights

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The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) attempts to balance the rights of tenants and landlords. In addition to having many rights, tenants also have several important responsibilities.

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If tenants fail to meet their responsibilities, the landlord has the right to give the tenant a formal written notice called “Notice to End a Tenancy for [a specified reason]”. There are several types of Reviews. The notice must state why and when the landlord wants a tenant to leave.

If a tenant doesn’t move out or fix the problem, the landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for an eviction order. Tenants have the right to dispute the landlord’s application at a LTB hearing.

Pay the rent on time. In a month-to-month tenancy, tenants must pay rent, on a regular basis, by the first of each month.

A clean house. Tenants are responsible for routine cleanliness in the rented premises. If a house is rented, the lease should indicate whether the tenant is responsible for outdoor maintenance, such as lawn mowing and snow removal, and the amount of compensation for such work. In an apartment building, the landlord is responsible for maintaining and cleaning all common areas.

Repair the damage. Although landlords must maintain and repair rental premises, tenants are responsible for repairing any damage they or their guests cause.

Be reasonably quiet. Tenants cannot disturb other tenants or the landlord of a residential rental property.

Obey the law. Tenants can be evicted if they or their guests engage in illegal activities. They do not need to be convicted of a criminal offense to face deportation for such behavior.

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To be honest about their circumstances. Tenants applying for social housing must not lie about their income or who lives in the rental unit. They must also provide regular reports upon request.

Change of locks. Tenants cannot change the locks without the landlord’s prior consent.

Respect the terms of the lease. Renters are required to honor all terms of the lease (rental agreement) they have signed provided the terms do not contradict the RTA.

Legal notice of departure. Tenants must provide their landlord with proper legal notice to end a tenancy when they want to move out. For example, the RTA requires tenants who rent space on a monthly basis to give their landlords 60 days notice ending on the last day of the month and on or after the expiration date of their original lease. Tenants must provide this notice in writing so that they have proof that it was properly given.

Landlords also have the right to evict tenants for a number of other reasons, such as requiring the rental premises for themselves, carrying out major repairs which require the rental unit to be empty or changing the building so that it no longer used as accommodation.

If a tenant receives a notice for any reason, they can contact the Chatham-Kent Legal Clinic for advice.

Walter Van de Kleut, CEO of CKLC (www.cklc.ca, 519-351-6771)

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