Si vous parlez français
What can my landlord do if I owe rent?

There are a few different things your landlord can do if they think you have not paid all your rent.

Eviction notice

Your landlord can try to evict you if they say you owe rent. But they must follow certain steps first.

Your landlord must first give you a Notice to End your Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent (Form N4) . This notice must include details about the amount of rent your landlord says you owe. It must also tell you the deadline to cancel the notice by paying the rent.

You can cancel this notice by paying all the rent that you owe within 14 days after you get the notice. You must pay within 7 days if you rent by the day or week. Make sure the landlord gives you a receipt for your payment.

Your payment must also include any rent that comes due after the date on the notice.

If you don't pay everything that you owe by the deadline, your landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to evict you.

After that, you will have other chances to stop the eviction by paying, making an agreement with your landlord, or winning your case at the Board.

Demand for payment only

Your landlord might choose to ask for payment without giving you a notice to end your tenancy. Your landlord could apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order to make you pay.

Landlords sometimes ask only for payment when they do not want to lose a long-standing tenant or think they will not be able to find a new tenant. They might also do this if you have a fixed-term lease and they want to keep you responsible for the rent until the end of the term.

Credit report

Your landlord could report your overdue rent to a credit reporting agency. This can affect your credit rating and make it harder in the future for you to rent a place or get a loan.

Things your landlord is not allowed to do

Even if you owe rent, it is against the law for your landlord to do, or threaten to do, any of these things:

  • take or hold anything that belongs to you
  • put your belongings out of your apartment
  • change the locks to your apartment or to other areas of the building without giving you a new key right away
  • cut off any important service, such as electricity, gas, water, or heat

If your landlord does or threatens to do any of these things, try to get legal help right away.

You could also call the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit (RHEU). The RHEU is part of the Ministry of Housing. Its job is to try to make sure landlords and tenants follow the law. You can call the RHEU at these numbers:

Toll Free Phone Line: 1-888-772-9277
416 Dialling Area: 416-585-7214
Fax: 416-585-6464
Toll Free Fax Line: 1-866-321-4127

Show all
Click to expand each step for details
Next Steps: 

Talk to your landlord

You might want to tell your landlord if you know you will not be able to pay your rent on time. Some landlords might be willing to wait or to work out a payment plan with you.

Or maybe you don't really owe rent. You might be able to convince your landlord that they have made a mistake. It will help if you have receipts to prove all your payments.

You may need

Get help paying the rent

If you are having temporary difficulty paying the rent, you might be able to get an interest-free loan from a rent bank. To find out more information about rent banks, go to the Housing Help Association of Ontario website and find your local Housing Help Centre.

If more than half your household income is from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works (OW), or if your rent is subsidized, you cannot use the rent bank program. Ask your ODSP or OW worker what help is available.

If your problem is not just temporary and you can't afford your place, you could think about getting a roommate to share the rent. In most cases, your landlord cannot stop you from doing this, as long as it won't break any local overcrowding by-laws.

Having roommates can create confusion about your rights and responsibilities. CLEO's online tool "Sharing rental housing?" can help you find out which laws apply to your situation.

If you live in subsidized or rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing, you probably have to report the income of everyone in your household, including roommates. This could affect your rent or your subsidy. It could even affect whether you still qualify to live there. Find out what the rules are before you decide to get a roommate. Check your rental agreement or ask at the office that makes decisions about rent subsidies.

You may need

If your landlord gives you a notice, check if it’s filled out correctly

If your landlord wants you to move out because of unpaid rent, they must give you a Notice to End your Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent (Form N4) . Check it carefully to see if it is filled out completely. The Landlord and Tenant Board could refuse to evict you if the notice does not follow all these rules:

Uses the proper form

The notice should be on the Landlord and Tenant Board's Form N4. But if it is not, the notice might still be valid if it has all the same information as the Form N4 does.

Gives details about what you owe

The notice must tell you how much the landlord says you owe. It must also give details to show how the landlord calculated the amount.

Tells you how to cancel the notice

The notice must tell you that you can cancel it by paying all the rent that you owe by a certain date. That date must be at least 14 days after you get the notice or 7 days if you rent by the day or week.

Is signed

The notice must be signed by your landlord or their representative. It must have the complete address of your rental unit and the names of all the tenants. Usually this means anyone who is responsible for paying rent or who is listed as a tenant in your rental agreement.

Decide if you should move out or try to stay

It can be hard to accept that you cannot afford to continue living in your place. For example, you might try to pay what you owe but you can still get evicted if you can't pay the full amount or if you pay too late. Then you might not have enough money left to rent a new place.

When you think about your situation, you might decide that it is better to try to find a more affordable place.

If you decide to move out, it's important to know that your landlord can still sue you for the amount that you owed when you left. And the debt can affect your credit record.

Check your credit record

If you want to know whether your landlord has reported you to any credit agencies, Ontario law gives you the right to get a free copy of your credit report.

You can also ask for your credit record to be corrected if it contains wrong information.

The two main credit reporting agencies in Canada are Equifax and TransUnion.

Reviewed: 
December, 2015

CQ+ Glossary Link Block

Was this helpful?

Was this helpful?

Leaving your email address is optional but please do so if you hope to hear back from us.

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.