News about rent increase

This is a translation of  “News about rent increase”  published in August 2017, produced in English by CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario). Japanese Social Services is wholly responsible for the accuracy of this translation, produced with permission of CLEO.

More tenants in Ontario are now protected from large rent increases.
This month’s On the Radar has information about this important change and about the rules for rent increases.

Rules about rent increases

Most landlords have to follow 3 basic rules to raise a tenant’s rent:

  • they must wait a year between increases
  • they must give the tenant at least 90 days’ notice in writing
  • they can’t raise the rent by more than the guideline percentage


Tenants in newer units now protected by the guideline

For many years, there was a growing group of tenants in newer units who weren’t protected from large rent increases.
These were tenants who rented:

  • units that weren’t used for any purpose before June 17, 1998, or
  • units in buildings that no one lived in before November 1, 1991.

In the past, landlords of these newer units could ignore the guideline and raise the rent as much as they wanted, as long as they followed the other 2 basic rules.
But a recent change in the law means that these tenants are now covered by the rent increase guideline.

◎When the change took effect
In these newer units, most rent increases that take effect from now on have to follow the guideline.
But the old rules still apply to notices of increase that tenants got before April 20, 2017.

How the rent increase guideline works

By the end of each August, the government announces the guideline percentage for rent increases that take effect starting in January of the next year.
The guideline for 2018 will be 1.8%.
In 2017, it’s 1.5% and in 2016, it was 2.0%.

◎Raising rent by more than the guideline
If a landlord wants to increase the rent by more than the guideline, they have to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board.
They have to prove that they have certain types of extra expenses. Tenants have the right to question and challenge this.

Tenants who still aren’t protected

Some types of rental situations are still not covered by the rent increase rules.
For example, tenants might not be protected if:

  • they have to share a kitchen or bathroom with the landlord or the landlord’s close family members, or
  • they rent business and living space together in the same lease.

Their landlords can raise the rent by any amount and as often as they want to. The only protection these tenants might have is a lease or other agreement that says this can’t happen.
Tenants who pay rent based on their income are covered by different rules about the amount and timing of rent increases. This includes tenants in public or subsidized housing.

Getting help

Tenants who have a low income may be able to get help from their local community legal clinic.
Landlords asking for increases above the guideline
If a landlord thinks that the guideline does notapply, they’re supposed to give notice to the tenant using a special form. But the form does not say why they think the guideline does not apply.
A tenant who gets a notice for a rent increase above the guideline may want to:

  • ask their landlord to explain why
  • get legal help

◎Tenants already paying illegal rent
If a tenant is already paying an increase that’s higher than the law allows, they can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for a refund.
But they should do this within one year of starting to pay the higher rent. Some kinds of illegal increases can become legal if no one challenges them within a year.

This email alert gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation.

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