Ontario landlord selling building, making strange requests, what are my options?
April 28, 2007 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Ontario Tenants Filter: i'm in a weird situation with a rental apartment- my landlord is trying to sell the building and is making strange requests. i can't make sense of the ontario tenants' act. your 2 cents would be very much appreciated.


i moved in to a 3-brdm toronto apartment 66 months ago.
back in 2001, me and my original 2 roommates signed a 1-year lease.
never renewed it.
in the past 5.5 years, i've had 7 roommates ranging in stay from 3
months to 3 years. each has paid a "last month's rent" deposit (ie,
paid 2 months of rent at the same time upon moving in). every time
roommates have come and gone, they've used their "last month's rent"
in lieu of rent for the last month they lived here, and the new tenant
came in immediately after, paying first-and-last. there has never
been a vacant room, and we've never been short on rent except 6 times
when a "last-month's-rent" was being "spent"- in those cases, it was
immediately replenished by the end of that month. we've always
assumed full responsibility for finding new tenants, and they've all
been pretty good tenants.

my current roommates moved in 11 and 4 months ago.
we're obviously good tenants and we're reliable on rent. we are 3
quiet, clean, responsible & friendly young professionals, and our apt
is in great shape- we're the kind of people most landlords would
immediately trust.
currently there's no lease, but a verbal agreement with the landlord
to stay here until "at least sept 2007". we kind of want to stay til
winter 2007, but we're all a bit loose on our ideal end date.

my landlord (let's call him Shady) is not trustworthy. he has
compromised our physical safety with poor upkeep, he tells
half-truths, avoids calls, often shows up unnanounced and makes us
late for work, pretends to speak less english than he does, and
generally plays dumb. he also has a bad temper and is unreasonable.
we've fought in the past; now we're mutually polite but it's volatile.

Shady has buyers interested my building, and has made 2 odd requests:
that me and my roommates sign a lease together, and that we take back
5.5 years of interest at 6% from our intial deposit on the apartment.

i've looked at the ontario residential tenancies act but it's greek to me.

here are the questions i have. advice much appreciated. what am i missing?

Shady wants me & my roommates to sign a lease together, binding the
three of us to a finite timeline. he says that having us on a lease
will make the building more attractive to potential buyers. is this
true? will they really care? remember, we are *obviously* good
tenants, and the building is selling for a pretty good value- i don't
think a lack of lease in 1 of the 6 apartments will make or break the
deal- am i wrong? can Shady force us to sign a lease?

does the new landlord have to honour the lease? if we don't sign the
lease, what are our rights? our apt is the nicest in the building, so
if a new owner wanted to live here or install family members, for sure
this is the apt they'd choose. will a lease will protect us from

Shady wants to refund the interest from our original deposit from way
back in 2001-- a total sum of about $600. he has never paid us annual
interest as apparently landlords are supposed to-- we never asked for
me and my current roommates are happy to split the money (which is 33%
unquestionable mine, and 66% composed of interest accrued on the
deposits of my two original roommates, who are long gone).
but will we just have to pay that deposit money it right back to the
new landlord?
why would Shady-the-cheapskate volunteer to refund this money?
is there some loophole he's exploiting?
will we owe our new landlord a deposit? does this change if we do or
don't collect the interest on the old deposit from Shady?

advice that will placate and reassure Shady is especially appreciated.

thanks so much for your advice.
posted by ezola to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might want to talk to a lawyer. The Law Society of Upper Canada has a number you can call where they'll refer you to someone with the right specialty who will give you a free half-hour consultation. They charge $6 for the referral. (Actually, almost any lawyer in Ontario will give you a free half-hour consultation. So if you know someone who can make a personal recommendation, that's probably better)

Anyway, as I understand it (IANAL), if your lease has expired and not been renewed, you are currently renting the apartment on a month-to-month basis. You can get kicked out on short notice at any time. Signing a lease would be a good thing, AFAICT (did I mention IANAL? :-)

AFAIK, the new landlord would be bound by the lease in the same way that your current landlord would be, and could break the lease for the same reasons that your current landlord can (it is my understanding that wanting to use the property for themselves is one of the possible valid reasons for ending the lease -- again, talk to a lawyer for the details)

In real estate ads advertising rental properties for sale, the fact that leases are in place is featured prominently so it seems to be a selling point.
posted by winston at 9:03 PM on April 28, 2007

Your best bet is to CALL the goverment and talk to them: (416) 645-8080. They will explain everything--it's not up to you to decipher.

That said:

does the new landlord have to honour the lease?

I am not sure, but I think that your lease becomes void when someone else buys the apartment.

if we don't sign the lease, what are our rights?

-- That you must be given 60 days notice if they're gonna evict you.

-- If you are being evicting in order to renovate they must ask you if you want to move back (prior to you leaving). If you want to come back, they owe you one month rent. If you don't want to come back, they owe you THREE month's rent. Unfortunately, there's no time limit on when they have to pay you this.

This happened to me last year:

- had been living in same apartment 12 years.
- new landlord bought house in November.
- New landlord gave everyone (4 months) notice in Feb that they were renovating and we were asked if we wanted to come back. We said no and had to fill out some form confirming this (n13 or something like that).
- I found an apartment in 2 months and moved. 6 months later landlord gave me 3 months rent due by law.
- also, when I found a new place, I had to give 10 days notice. If that 10 days was close to the end of the month, I'd be out rent to my current landlord even though I was moving on the first. Since I gave 10 days notice, I didn't have to pay for April's rent.
posted by dobbs at 9:04 PM on April 28, 2007



If you're on month to month he cannot make you sign a new lease. He could start forcing new roommates to sign separate agreements when they move in.


A landlord may evict you to live in the apartment. A lease does not matter, the Landlord and Tenant Board would issue an eviction notice for this reason. I'm pretty sure the new owners need a reason to evict you, and that the lease still applies. Remember that technically the original lease applies (although not for your roommates, they did not sign it), practically you're governed by the RTA.


Sure, why not? You're entitled to it, just make sure that it is clearly documented as interest. If he hasn't given you the last month's deposit back then you shouldn't be giving anything to the new owners. That is money that should change hands between them, or more probably be included in the sale agreement.

Have you considered the possibility that he is talking to a lawyer about the sale? He may be trying to get everything in order, like paying all of the back interest, to help with the sale.


What ever you want. You are in the position of power, you do not need to sign a lease, and can file with the Board if he pulls bullshit. If it is truly about getting a lease on file he should be willing to sign a month to month lease, which won't lock you into anything.

A few points (some general):

- Keep an apartment journal. Every time he comes by without notice, log it. If you have a lot of evidence of wrongdoing on his part, it will make any board proceedings easier for you.
- Everytime anything shady occurs, log it.
- If upkeep is an issue you can apply for rent abatement from the housing tribunal.
- If he evicts you legally, there will be a hearing where you can defend yourself. The notice is actually issued by the Board, and must be delivered by a Court Sherrif.
- check out the Landlord and Tenant Board website. The FAQ is pretty good, as is the help for tenants section and guide. Also make sure to check out the brochures, they are written with people like you in mind (people who don't understand legislation at a reading level, i.e. everyone).
- Call a legal clinic, they generally only represent people at the board who have rent geared to income. They will give advice during intake hours though, your questions shouldn't take too long, to answer.
posted by dr. moot at 10:12 PM on April 28, 2007

Sorry I meant a Free Legal Clinic
posted by dr. moot at 10:13 PM on April 28, 2007

As to the payment of interest, the buyer may be insisting that he do that so that he is not on the hook for that amount. Or your current landlord may have been advised to do that, to forestall the point coming up.
posted by yclipse at 4:16 AM on April 29, 2007

I agree with those saying that you should consult a lawyer. I had landlord troubles in Ontario a few years ago, spent a lot of time reading the Tenant Act, was pretty sure I had the right to break my lease, and then later I found out I didn't. The point of this is that the Act is hard to understand, and sometimes people remember things from the previous Landlord Tenant Act that don't exist anymore, so you should get professional advice.

That said, every landlord who has paid me my annual interest has paid it at the end of my tenure. And, if he gives you the annual interest, that isn't the same as you deposit. Unless he gives back your deposit (or a month free of rent) as well, you wouldn't owe another deposit to the new landlords. In fact, they would start accruing interest on your deposit that they could choose to pay you annually or at the end of your tenure.

For the rest, I have ideas but I don't know well enough to really say. Lets just say that I think the lawyer might give you some surprising information about your rights/power in this situation.
posted by carmen at 6:31 AM on April 29, 2007

i am a lawyer in ontario though not yours and this is not legal advice..

1) Should you sign a lease?

No, he cannot force you to do that.

2) Can you get kicked out by the new owners?

Yes, but only for the same reasons that your current landlord could kick you out. Unfortunately one of those reasons is if a landlord wants to live in your apt or rent it to a family member.

3) Should you take the interest?

Yes, it's legally yours and almost certainly in preparation for the sale -- the new owners will not want past interest to be on the books when they take over. However, the new owners will owe you interest on your last month's deposit from the time they purchase.

Basically, everything Dr. Moot said is pretty much bang on. You cannot be evicted without notice and if you wish to challenge any eviction you will be able to do so. Many people appear before the tribunal without lawyers, so it need not be an overly expensive process.
posted by modernnomad at 7:12 AM on April 29, 2007

I don't live in Canada, but to answer one of your other questions, yes, a lease is generally appealing to buyers because they clearly know what the agreement is with the current tenants and they can predict what rental income is owed. As a buyer, inheriting a tenant without a lease can be a nightmare. You might be very trustworthy, but the new buyer does not know that and cannot know that. Just my opinion.
posted by jeanmari at 7:15 AM on April 29, 2007

Dr. Moot has given you some good advice.

If you want something more authoritative and free, I would definitely check out the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations, which is a City-of-Toronto-funded non-profit that deals with questions just like yours. Their website is not sexy, but their help is good.

My take:
- You can get evicted only if the new owner wants to live in your unit
- You don't have to sign a new lease, or make a new deposit
- You should take the deposit interest, and enjoy the "winfall" that was yours in the first place
posted by mrmcsurly at 7:16 AM on April 29, 2007

Just to clarify, Ontario has security of tenure, which means that when the place is sold you do not have to move -- even if there's no lease -- unless the new landlord requires the unit to live in (as dr. moot described) or the building will be demolished, converted, or renovated so extensively that you cannot live in it while the work is being done (i.e. something that would require a permit). In that case, you're entitled to a certain number of days' notice or compensation in lieu of notice (how much notice/compensation depends on why the tenancy is being terminated). You can check out the law starting here (esp. section 50(1)).

dr moot answered all your other questions very well, so I'll just chime in with answers to the questions you sort-of asked:

Entering without notice According to this your landlord has to give you 24 hours' written notice before entering your apartment if it is not an emergency and if you do not give him permission. According to this, if he is entering to show your apartment to prospective renters, he may only do so if you both have agreed your tenancy is being terminated, and he does so between 8am and 8pm, and he makes a reasonable effort to let you know when he'll be showing your apartment.

Repairs According to this, your landlord is responsible for making all repairs to the apartment, even if it says otherwise in your lease and even if you knew about the problem(s) before moving in. Even if you caused the damage, too, although in that case the landlord is entitled to make you pay for it.

Exactly what maintenance standards your landlord is required to meet are determined by municipal bylaws; Toronto's are available here (note: it's a pdf). (Also: general housing info from the City of Toronto here, FAQ here. ) To summarize some of the more common problems: he is obligated to exterminate pests; fix leaky rooves; fix windows that are drafty, broken, or don't open if they are supposed to (however windows are not required to be the kind that open); to ensure the building is structurally sound; to fix holes/cracks/other damage to walls and ceilings; to keep the common areas and entrances/exits clean and safe. He may also not interfere with your utilities (that's electrical, heat, gas, water, etc.) except for if it's somehow necessary for making repairs, and then the repairs must be necessary and completed in a reasonable amount of time.

If any of this happens, and you have requested the repairs and given your landlord a reasonable amount of time to get them done and he still won't do them, you have two avenues to pursue: through the city, and through the Landlord Tenant Board (you can do either or both).

If you go through the city (info on the process here), you fill out a form, an inspector comes out, and if there is in fact a violation the inspector will issue an order that the repairs be made.

If you go through the Landlord Tenant Board, you have to make an application to the Board (described about 2/3 of the way down on this page, under "Remedies Available to Tenants"), at which point a hearing will be scheduled to sort things out. Also, it's important to know that while some people may tell you to withhold rent until the repairs are completed, Ontario is not one of the places you can do this. Instead, you may fill out a Request to Pay Rent to the Board when you file your application, and then they hang onto your rent for you until the matter is resolved. (It keeps your landlord from getting your rent, but it also keeps him from arguing you're a deadbeat just looking to get out of paying rent.)

Harassment Under the law, your landlord cannot threaten or harass you. (Harassment is generally defined as behaviour that makes you fear for your safety; you should also know that criminal assault includes threats and intimidation, and does not necessarily have to include inflicting bodily harm.)
posted by AV at 7:38 AM on April 29, 2007


IANAL; I am just attempting to translate the info I've found into plain English from legalese. This is not legal advice. Do read up on the info in the links I've posted here, and if you have any questions contact the Landlord Tenant Board or the Advocacy Centre for Tenants which is run by Legal Aid Ontario. If you don't qualify for Legal Aid and you'd still like some legal advice, contact the Law Society's Lawyer Referral Service.
posted by AV at 8:04 AM on April 29, 2007

Many people appear before the tribunal without lawyers...

Just a wee note: I've done this myself, and it's quite easy. The adjudicator will, from what I've seen, tell people if they're in a spot where they do need a lawyer and set a new date for the hearing in those cases. But it's a straightforward process if it's a straightforward problem.

Worth considering if there're still "poor upkeep, unsafe" problems. You can get a city housing inspector (does TO have 311 service yet? Wait; note Municipal Licensing & Standards number here; PDF file) to come by and take a look -- entirely free -- and he'll document everything and, in my experience, be happy to find problems you didn't even know you had.

That PDF has some other useful numbers on it, too.
posted by kmennie at 9:09 AM on April 29, 2007

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