6 min read

Understanding and Navigating Your Tenancy Rights in Canada

There are laws in place in Canada to protect tenants from neglectful and unresponsive landlords. As a tenant, it's important to understand these laws in case you find yourself in the middle of a rental dispute.
By · June 11, 2024
Understanding and Navigating Your Tenancy Rights in Canada

Sometimes, finding a decent landlord can be just as challenging as finding a solid tenant. A survey conducted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives revealed that over 40% of Canadian tenants have experienced moving into a new place, only to find that certain repairs have been neglected or the landlord is ignoring messages and emails.

Luckily, Canada has laws in place to protect the rights of tenants. It’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of your rights before you sign a rental agreement.

In this article we cover tenancy rights in Canada and how to navigate common issues, including valuable resources available for tenants who find themselves in a tricky situation with their landlord. Keep reading to learn all about understanding and navigating your tenancy rights in Canada.

Rules and Regulations Vary by Province

Each province and territory in Canada has its own landlord and tenant legislation and the rules and regulations vary province to province. Under the Residential Tenancies Act (which is called the Civil Code of Canada in Quebec, the Rental of Residential Property Act in P.E.I, and the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act in Yukon), tenants have the right to a habitable living space, secure tenure, privacy, proper maintenance and protection against unreasonable rent and unlawful eviction.

Federal Laws That Impact Tenancy

Canada takes the safety and wellbeing of its citizens seriously, and this applies to tenants in that there are federal laws in place to further protect tenant’s rights and to make sure that housing practices across Canada are fair and equitable.

  • Under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), landlords cannot refuse to rent, set different terms or conditions, or harass tenants based on these protected grounds. This law guarantees equal access to housing for everyone without discrimination.

  • Under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), landlords must handle tenants' personal information responsibly, making sure it is collected, used, and disclosed with consent and for legitimate purposes. This includes information gathered during the tenant screening process.

  • Under Canada’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, landlords must provide rental properties that meet safety standards, including fire safety, structural integrity, and the removal of hazardous materials like asbestos or lead.

  • Under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, if a landlord goes bankrupt, tenants are protected, and their rights are maintained with full transparency of their position within the bankruptcy proceedings.

READ: Moving From an Apartment to a House: The Ultimate Checklist

Prohibited discrimination under the Canada Human Rights Act

Canadian law tries its best to maintain equal treatment for all citizens, and the CHRA applies to federally regulated housing providers. The act prohibits any discrimination based on:

  • Race

  • National or ethnic origin

  • Colour

  • Religion

  • Age

  • Sex (including pregnancy and gender identity or expression)

  • Sexual orientation

  • Marital status

  • Family status

  • Disability

  • Pardoned conviction

Tenant Responsibilities

There is also a code of conduct for renters in Canada to make sure that rental procedures are smooth and that the home, landlord and surrounding community are respected.

  • Tenants must pay their rent on time.

  • Tenants must maintain cleanliness inside and outside the dwelling, and prevent damages from occuring to the best of their abilities.

  • Tenants must report necessary repairs and issues immediately.

  • Tenants must respect their neighbours, community standards and municipal by-laws.

Maintenance and repair issues

It’s natural for things in a home to break or wear out. The important part is how the issue is dealt with in regards to landlord responsiveness. As a tenant if you find something in you rental that needs attention, here are the logical steps to take:

  • Document the date the problem started and take photos or videos

  • Review your lease agreement details re: reporting repairs

  • Send an email to your landlord - emails are easy to save and track for future use. Follow up soon after, if needed.

  • If the issue is severe such as lack of heat or water, or electrical problems, contact your local housing authority or health department. They can inspect the property and possibly contact your landlord to expedite repairs.

  • Withholding rent until the repair is made is an option. In some jurisdictions this is a tenant right, just be sure to understand the local laws as improper withholding of rent can lead to eviction.

  • If the landlord has been contacted multiple times to no avail, repair the issue and have the total deducted from your rent. Make sure to keep all receipts and records.

If all else fails and the landlord is still being elusive, you can opt to seek legal advice and even file a lawsuit. Some areas offer free or low-cost legal assistance for tenants.

Disputes over a rent increase

If you feel that a rent increase is unfair or unlawful, these helpful steps will help to smooth the edges of the resolution process between you and your landlord.

  • Review the relevant details your lease agreement

  • Research rent control laws in your area, and understand notice requirements. Typically a landlord must provide 60 days notice before increasing your rent. Know that there are exceptions and exemptions for certain situations.

  • Document the increase and save any emails between you and your landlord

If communication between you and your landlord doesn’t end in resolution, you can choose to seek mediation, file a complaint, or seek legal action.

If you live in a building with multiple occupants, you can join or form a tenant association to collectively address unfair rent increases.


Evictions are no fun for renters and they happen for a few reasons. In Canada, reasons for eviction vary by province and territory, but they are all generally recognized across the country.

Here are some of the typical grounds for eviction:

  • You fail to pay the rent

  • You often are late with rent payments

  • You violate the terms of your lease

  • You damage the building or property

  • You engage in illegal activity on the property

  • Your lease ends and the landlord decides to evict

  • Your landlord decides to renovate or demolish the building

  • You create regular disturbances for other tenants or the neighbours

  • If you overcrowd the rental and the number of occupants exceeds the permitted number on the lease agreement or local housing laws

Sometimes, the landlord will have a family member move in, or they will decide to occupy the rental themselves. In this case, they are allowed to evict their tenant as long as they provide sufficient notice, which is usually 60 days.

Resources for tenants

Here is a list of helpful resources for tenants dealing with rental/landlord issues:

  • Legal aid and other legal support services

  • Provincial tenant advocacy groups

  • Tenant hotlines

  • Online forums for tenants

  • Mediation and dispute resolution services

Tenant Insurance

Tenant insurance covers personal property against risks such as theft, fire and water damage by providing reimbursement for stolen or damaged items. It also includes liability coverage, which protects the renter in the case of injury on the property or accidental damage to the property or buildings in close proximity.

Communication is the bottom line

The most important factor in any kind of tenancy dispute is open, honest and assertive communication. With proper communication between a renter and landlord, one can potentially avoid the long headache of unresponsiveness, disputes and legal procedures.

What do our customers say?