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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/en. 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 resource called Getting Legal Help: A Directory of Community Legal Clinics in Ontario.

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.

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 For Tenants, then on Tip Sheets.

Steps to Justice

CLEO's Steps to Justice is a website that gives step‑ by‑step information about common legal problems, including housing law issues. Steps to Justice has practical tools like forms and checklists, and referral information for legal and social services. Visit www.stepstojustice.ca and see the information in the Housing Law section.

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 contact your local property standards or by‑law department, or your city hall, municipal office, or local councillor. You can find them in the government section of your phone book or on your local government's website.

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 Rental Housing 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.ltb.gov.on.ca. You can call the Board at 416‑645‑8080 or 1‑888‑332‑3234. TTY users call 1‑800‑855‑0511 through Bell Relay Service.

It costs $50 to make an application to the Board. If you win your case, the Board might order your landlord to pay you back the cost of this fee. 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.