Tenants - rights and responsibilities
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:
- 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.
- City of Ottawa Housing Services, Community and Social Services
- Registration for Social Housing in Ottawa
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 Rental Housing Property Management By-Law (2020-255) regulates the management of residential rental properties.
- The Building By-law (2014-220) regulates the administration and enforcement of the Ontario Building Code Act, 1992 respecting the construction, renovation, or any change of use of buildings and designated structures.
- The Heat By-law (2010-210) regulates the maintenance of adequate heat in rented dwelling accommodations.
- The Licensing By-law (2002-189), Schedule 26, licenses and regulates rooming houses.
- The Property Maintenance By-law (2005-208), as amended, regulates the clearing and cleaning of refuse, debris, or snow and ice from all properties.
- The Property Standards By-law (2013-416), as amended, prescribes minimum maintenance standards for properties. This by-law regulates residential properties, non-residential properties, vacant buildings, vacant lands, open space land, and heritage properties.
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.
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
Identifying common pests:
Mouse and rat
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:
- Ottawa Public Health home safety webpage provides information on bed bugs, cockroaches, and rat control
- Orkin Canada pest library provides information about several pests and how to treat and prevent infestations
- Ottawa Community Housing pest management page provides a checklist for pest prevention for tenants
- Pest control - Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides guidelines on pest prevention and pest control measures
- Section 20 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 provides information for when a landlord is required to pay for pest management
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.
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:
- evacuation from the building in case of an emergency
- preparing their unit for pest treatment
- explaining complex rental documents
- any other accommodations that may be required under the Ontario Human Rights Code, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 or Residential Tenancies Act, 2006
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.
- 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.
- Clinique Juridique Francophone d’Ottawa – This organization is part of the Vanier Community Service Centre and offers free legal assistance to francophone residents.
- 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.
Public Policy Development
613-580-2400 ext. 29529
If you would like a paper copy of the guide for tenants, please contact us by phone at 613-580-2500 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.