Tenants - rights and responsibilities

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Requirements under the by-law

The City’s Rental Housing Property Management By-law (No. 2020-255) came into force on August 31, 2021.

Landlords are required to:

  • maintain a capital maintenance plan
  • establish a procedure for tenant service requests
  • maintain a tenant support registry
  • create and distribute an information for tenants document
  • develop an integrated pest management plan

For tenant requirements, see Renting Responsibly.

Finding a place to rent in Ottawa

Tenants can find rental housing listings published:

  • online
  • in local newspapers
  • community notice boards
  • signs posted in front of buildings
  • through the community, friends, or family

Social housing, emergency shelter, or homelessness initiatives:

The City of Ottawa’s Community and Social Services website provides information regarding subsidized housing, long-term care, and addressing homelessness.

Tenants can dial 3-1-1 and press 4 to receive information on social assistance benefits, emergency heat, and social services, childcare assistance, Ontario Renovates Program, and other programs and services offered by the Community and Social Services Department. Individuals can also call 2-1-1 and be directed to the most appropriate resources for community information and referral services. In addition, individuals can search for resources online using the Community Navigation of Eastern Ontario database.

City of Ottawa property standards search tool - Under development!

Search a property address online and retrieve a history of any violations, allowing tenants to make an informed decision about where to rent.

Know your rights

City of Ottawa By-laws governing rental housing:

Although the Province of Ontario regulates most aspects of relations between tenants and landlords, the City of Ottawa has enacted a number of by-laws which directly or indirectly regulate rental housing, which include:

The City of Ottawa provides basic information for tenants available in Arabic, Hindi, Indonesian, Mandarin, Spanish and Urdu. For more information, visit the City of Ottawa's Consumer Awareness webpage.

Province of Ontario regulations:

As a tenant in Ontario, you have legal rights. The Province of Ontario website provides further information on tenant rights. 

The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits any action that discriminates against people based on their age, colour, race, citizenship, religion, gender, sexual orientation, family status, or disability. A landlord cannot refuse to rent to you based on any of the above protected grounds. You can also visit the Ontario Human Rights Commission website for more information.

The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 sets out the responsibilities of both the tenant and the landlord. The Act includes rules for:

  • tenancy or lease agreement
  • landlord and tenant responsibility
  • rules regarding when a landlord can enter your unit
  • information on what you need to rent (ID, proof of income, etc.)
  • termination of lease
  • assignment or subletting your unit
  • Landlord and Tenant Board 
  • maintenance standards

Read more in the provincial guide to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.

Documentation provided by your landlord

Information for tenants document

The City of Ottawa’s Rental Housing Property Management By-law (By-law No. 2020-255) requires landlords to provide all tenants with an information for tenants document. Make sure to get this document when you sign your lease. It will provide you with lots of helpful information, such as:

  • how to reach your landlord
  • how to make a service request
  • how to register for tenant support
  • where to park
  • where to put out your garbage and recyclables

Standard lease (Province of Ontario)

According to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, landlords of most private residential rental units must use this lease when they enter into a tenancy agreement with a tenant. As of March 1, 2021, all landlords must use the updated version of the standard lease for their tenancy agreement.

Renting responsibly

As a tenant, you and anyone living with you must comply with all of the responsibilities outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 and your lease.

City of Ottawa By-law tenant responsibilities include:

  • report any service requests to your landlord through the method prescribed in the information for tenants document
  • advise your landlord of any assistance required
  • read and sign the information for tenants document provided by your landlord and share the document with any other adults who are residents of the rental unit
  • cooperate with landlords on pest control and follow pest treatment plans 
  • ensure that you and any other occupants of your rental unit follow all other City of Ottawa By-laws, including the Noise By-law and the Solid Waste Management By-law

Province of Ontario tenant responsibilities include:

  • give proper written notice to your landlord when you move out, (unless you are ordered to move out by the Landlord and Tenant Board)
  • allow entry to your unit when the reasons for entry comply with the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 or your lease
  • pay your rent on time
  • keeping your home clean and in good condition
  • let your landlord know about any repairs which may be needed in your unit
  • be responsible for your actions and actions of the other members of your household, your visitors, your guests, their pets and your pets
  • respect your neighbours by not making too much noise
  • keep common areas clean
  • use the garbage and recycling facilities properly
  • ensure that the utilities (such as gas and hydro) are paid on time 
  • get written permission from your landlord before making any changes or alterations to your unit or property

Pest infestations

Pest control and treatment

Tenant responsibilities under the Rental Housing Property Management By-law include:

While pest treatment is the landlord’s responsibility, tenants have the following obligations to help prevent pest infestations in their unit:

  • do not cause conditions which may attract or harbour pests
  • follow a pest treatment plan 
  • treat infestations of fleas, lice, or ticks on pets

Submit a tenant service request to report an infestation, suspected infestation, or conditions likely to cause an infestation.

Landlord responsibilities for pest control and treatment include:

  • treat pest infestations
  • establish and maintain an integrated pest management plan which includes preventative inspections
  • prevent conditions which may attract or harbour pests
  • provide educational information for prevention of pests to tenants
  • establish reporting processes for suspected infestations 
  • provide tenants with a copy of a pest treatment plan prior to treating an infestation within their unit

Pest treatment and control resources:

Requesting repairs or other services

Urgent service requests include:

  • a loss or interruption in vital services
  • security concerns about the rental unit, building or property
  • problems with accessibility features and equipment
  • any issue that can reasonably be expected to make a unit uninhabitable.

Any service request that does not fit into the above categories is considered non-urgent.  Landlords have seven (7) days to respond to these requests.  

When a service request is made, landlords should also verify the tenant support registry to determine if the tenant has registered a need for support and what accommodation is required in that particular circumstance. 

Non-responsive landlords:

It is important to first submit a service request through your landlord prior to contacting the City of Ottawa.

If a landlord has not responded to your request within 24 hours for urgent repairs or 7 days for non-urgent repairs, or if the problem continues, tenants may report the issue to By-law and Regulatory Services by:

  • calling 3-1-1 (or 613-580-2402 for TTY services)
  • submitting a request for service online

Requesting support due to a disability

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, landlords may be required to provide additional supports for tenants living with a disability, unless doing so would create undue hardship. The City of Ottawa has also included requirements in the Rental Housing Property Management By-law (2020-255) for landlords to maintain a registry for tenants who request support.

The tenant support registry is voluntary for tenants and you can request to have your name added or removed at any time.

The City of Ottawa’s tenant support registry allows tenants to request support for:

Landlords must maintain the tenant support registry and record all requests made for support.  Information provided for the tenant support registry may be collected by the City of Ottawa for the purpose of investigating and enforcing landlord compliance with the Rental Housing Property Management By-law (2020-255).  Information about how this is used is available on ottawa.ca or by calling 3-1-1. 

Additional resources

  • Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 – Provincial law that sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in Ontario. The guide to the residential tenancies act brochure is a great resource to summarize the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 for landlords and tenants.
  • Ontario Human Rights Code – Guarantees equality before the law and prohibits discrimination in specific areas such as housing or employment.
  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 – The main purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is to improve accessibility standards for Ontarians with physical or mental disabilities to all public places by 2025.
  • ACORN Ottawa – ACORN is a multi-issue, membership-based community tenant union of low- and moderate-income people. ACORN promotes tenants’ rights through community organizing and workshops.
  • Action Housing and Housing Help – Housing loss prevention organizations in Ottawa. They provide free service to low- and moderate-income people and families to access safe and affordable housing. Both organizations offer similar service, but access is based on geographical area of residency.
  • Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation –Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to preventing evictions and ending housing discrimination across Ontario.
  • Community Legal Services of Ottawa – Community Legal Services of Ottawa provides free legal services for persons with low income, living in Ottawa, in 3 areas of law: all areas of Public Benefits Law, Housing Law for tenants, and Immigration and Refugee Law. Contact one of their 3 office locations to make an appointment: West, at 613-596-1641; South, at 613-733-0140; Downtown, at 613-241-7008.
  • Landlord and Tenant Board – This tribunal resolves disputes between landlords and tenants. It is like a court and through mediation or settlement, it will help the landlord and tenant come to an agreement. The Landlord and Tenant Board also provides information about the rights and responsibilities of landlords under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.
  • Legal Aid Ontario – Legal Aid Ontario is a publicly funded, not for profit organization that provides free legal assistance for low-income people. Legal Aid Ontario deals with many issues and provides this service in both English and French.
  • Pro Bono Ontario – This registered charity helps Ontarians who need a lawyer and can’t afford one. Pro Bono Ontario can help with issues such as repairs and maintenance needed in your rental unit, going to small claims court, or practical advice on consumer awareness.
  • Rent Supplement Program (City of Ottawa) – The Rent Supplement Program provides affordable housing to eligible low-and moderate-income families in social housing. Once enrolled, households pay no more than 30 per cent of their income towards rent. To make an application for subsidized housing in Ottawa, please contact the Social Housing Registry. The Registry is located at 2197 Riverside Drive and can be reached by phone at 613-526-2088.
  • Steps to Justice, Housing Law – Steps to Justice gives reliable and practical information on common legal problems.
  • University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic – The Clinic provides legal services to the Ottawa community. Staffed by lawyers and law students, the Clinic provides public legal education, legal advice, and representation at court for a variety of criminal, family and tenant-related matters.
  • The Vanier Community Service Centre offers legal assistance in French to low-income residents in Ottawa.

Accessible formats

If you would like a paper copy of the guide for tenants, please email bylawreviews@ottawa.ca or call 613-580-2400 ext. 29529.

Notice: this page is for information and convenience only, and while every effort has been made to include relevant resources City staff recognize that this page does not capture all available sources of information for tenants. Some of these links may take you to an external website that is not owned by the City. Your access to and use of any external site is subject to that website’s own rules and regulations.