5 ways to tame your landlord

Here’s how to keep the ‘lord’ out of your landlord

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From the December 2016 issue of the magazine.

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It’s the age-old question: Should you rent or buy? With housing prices still sky-high in Vancouver and Toronto, many are looking towards renting as a permanent solution. Michael Thiele, an Ottawa-based lawyer, suspects the new minimum down payment rules are pushing even more people to rent, making it a landlord’s market. Here’s how to keep the ‘lord’ out of your ‘landlord’.

1. Make your case

If you point out to your landlord that something needs fixing, make sure you get it in writing. That way, if it goes unrepaired, forcing you to take the case to a tenancy board, you have evidence that the landlord was told. Keeping pictures of the unrepaired area is also important, says Karen Andrews, a lawyer with Advocacy Tenant Centre of Ontario. A successful case may result in a reduction in rent, if the tenant can make the case that they’re not getting what they are paying for.

2. Knock first

“Tenants have to be careful that they are covered by their provincial tenancy legislation,” says Thiele. For instance, shared apartments or renting a room in someone’s house may not be covered. To be sure, call your provincial tenant’s board.

3. ‘No girls allowed’ is not allowed

So you see a sweet apartment that you’d like to rent, but notice the listing forbids people of your gender or race? The law is clear: If it’s considered discrimination under the Human Rights Code, it’s forbidden for the landlord to do it. That includes rejecting you based on sex, age, religion or marital status.

4. Law trumps lease

Rental agreements and leases don’t reign supreme in the renting realm. It’s tenancy law, not contract law, that matters, explains Andrew Sakamoto, executive director of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre. Next time you see something unfair in your rental agreement, check with a free community legal clinic to see if it’s allowed under provincial legislation.

5. Heat, please

There’s a requirement to maintain heating, but not for providing air conditioning. Still, if there is air conditioning, it can’t be taken away, as the landlord is also expected to maintain the services that were provided when the tenant moved in.


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