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What tenants need to know about the law

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Where to get more information and help

Community legal clinics

Across Ontario, community legal clinics give free legal help to tenants who have low incomes. To find the nearest community legal clinic, go to Legal Aid Ontario's website at www.legalaid.on.ca. Click on CONTACT LAO then COMMUNITY LEGAL CLINICS. Or call Legal Aid Ontario at:

Toll-free 1-800-668-8258

Toronto area 416-979-1446

Toll-free TTY 1-866-641-8867

Toronto area TTY 416-598-8867

You can also see CLEO's publication called Getting Legal Help: A Directory of Community Legal Clinics in Ontario. To find out how to order it, click here.

Tenant Duty Counsel Program

There are tenant duty counsel at many Landlord and Tenant Board locations. Tenant duty counsel are lawyers and community legal workers. The Tenant Duty Counsel Program is run by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) and is funded by Legal Aid Ontario.

Tenant duty counsel will help you for free but you may first have to show that you cannot afford to pay for your own lawyer. And there are limits to what they can help you with. Tenant duty counsel can:

  • give basic advice,
  • help work out settlements with landlords, and
  • review and help fill out some forms and documents, especially ones related to eviction.

Sometimes they can help tenants at hearings with steps such as urgent review applications and requests for adjournments.

To find out if there will be tenant duty counsel at the Board location you are going to, call your local community legal clinic before you go to the Board. Click here for information on how to find your nearest legal clinic.

The Tenant Duty Counsel Program also has a series of tip sheets for tenants. To find them online, go to www.acto.ca and click on TENANT INFO, and then TENANT TIP SHEETS  .

Your Legal Rights website

Your Legal Rights, www.yourlegalrights.on.ca, is a website with free, easy-to-understand legal information for people in Ontario. The legal information covers a wide range of topics, including information for tenants, from hundreds of reliable sources. There are also listings of key legal and social services across the province, many of which tenants may find helpful. Your Legal Rights is a project of CLEO.

Inspectors

Sometimes a government inspector's report can help get your landlord to do repairs, or can be used as evidence at a Landlord and Tenant Board hearing.

To have your place inspected, you can phone your local property standards or by-law department, or your city hall, municipal office, or local councillor. You can find these numbers in the government section of your phone book.

If there are no property standards by-laws where you live, you can contact the province's Investigation and Enforcement Unit at 1-888-772-9277. The Unit's website address is www.mah.gov.on.ca/ieu.

Investigations

If your landlord harasses you, threatens to evict you illegally, comes into your place without permission, or violates your rights in some other way, you can contact the Investigation and Enforcement Unit at 1-888-772-9277. The Unit's website address is www.mah.gov.on.ca/ieu.

Landlord and Tenant Board

You can contact the Board to get notice and application forms, and for general information about landlord and tenant issues. The Board cannot give you legal advice.

On the Board's website, there are brochures you can read and copies of all of the Board's forms that you can print out.

The Board's website address is www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb. You can call the Board at 416-645-8080 or 1-888-332-3234. TTY users call 1-800-268-9242 through Bell Relay Service.

It costs $45 to make most applications to the Board. But it costs $50 to apply to have the Board review an order it has already made.

If you win your case you might get this money back from your landlord. If you have a low income you can ask the Board not to charge you the fee. To do this, you will need to fill out a “Fee Waiver Request” form. You can ask the Board to send you this form, or download it from the Board’s website.

Tenants' organizations

These groups help tenants by giving them information and advice. They can also help you organize a tenants' association in your building. They are usually run by volunteers who are tenants themselves.

Your community legal clinic might be able to tell you if there is a tenants' organization in your area. If you live in the Toronto area, you can call the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations at 416-921-9494. Their website address is www.torontotenants.org.

Your neighbours

Find out if your neighbours are concerned about some of the same things you are. It is usually better to work with other tenants in your building or your tenants' association when dealing with harassment, rent increases, maintenance issues, or other problems that affect more than one tenant.