Offences Under the Residential Tenancies Act

Article courtesy of ACE. This article was originally published in the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly’s Fall 2009 newsletter. To view a copy of that newsletter, Click here or click here to visit the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly’s (ACE) website

Do you know what to do or who to call if your rights are being violated under the Residential Tenancies Act? The purpose of this article is to provide some information about offences and how to report them.

The Residential Tenancies Act sets out the rules for most residential tenancies in Ontario, as well as some penalties for not abiding by the law. Residential tenancies include retirement homes, which are legally known as “care homes.”

There are a total of 38 offences contained within the Residential Tenancies Act. All of the offences that apply to rental units also apply to care homes. But, there are also five special offences that apply only to care homes, which are listed below:

• Interfering with the provision of additional care services by an external care provider to a tenant;

• Doing anything that prevents a tenant from obtaining additional care services from a person of their choice;

• Withholding or interfering with the reasonable supply of a vital service, including care services or food;

• Giving a notice of rent increase or a notice of increase for a charge without first giving the tenant a care information package (this package sets out important details about the kinds and costs of rental units available at the care home, the types and costs of care services packages, optional services and their costs, staffing requirements and the qualifications of staff); and

• Increasing the cost for providing a care service or meals to a tenant without giving 90 days notice of the increase.

Offences can be committed by any person, including landlords, tenants, superintendents, caretakers and property managers.

If you think an offence has been committed, you have three possible options:

1. Report the offence to the Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing;

2. Apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board; or

3. Report the offence to the Investigation and Enforcement Unit and apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Keep in mind that there are no fees to report an offence to the Investigation and Enforcement Unit although there are fees to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

If the Investigation and Enforcement Unit is called, it must first determine if it has authority to deal with a problem. In other words, the Unit must decide whether there is a possibility that an offence has been committed. If the matter falls within the Investigation and Enforcement Unit’s mandate, it will then try to discuss the issue with the parties involved and have the alleged offender comply with the Residential Tenancies Act.

A letter is usually sent to the alleged offender explaining what needs to be done to correct the problem and the penalties for failing to do so. If the issue cannot be resolved, it may be referred to an investigator who will review the file and, if necessary, collect evidence. The investigator may decide to lay charges against the alleged offender if there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe an offence has been committed.