Frequently Asked Questions
Students are encouraged to contact Queen’s Student Community Relations with questions related to tenant rights and responsibilities. Student Community Relations may also help you understand your lease and review your document(s) with you.
1. Can a landlord refuse to rent an apartment or house to me because of…?
- my place of origin, ethnic origin, race, ancestry, citizenship?
- my religion?
- my disability?
- my age?
- my sex, my sexual orientation, same-sex partnership status, marital status?
- the fact that I am pregnant or have children?
- the fact that I am receiving social assistance?
NO. The Ontario Human Rights Code makes it against the law for landlords to discriminate against you in any of these ways. Exception: If you rent a room or an apartment where you live with the owner’s family and share their kitchen and/ or bathroom, a landlord can refuse to rent or can terminate a lease for any of the reasons stated above. Be aware that you can be evicted without notice, unless you have a written contract that states otherwise.
2. Can a landlord ask for first and last month’s rent?
YES. The last month’s rent acts as a deposit. This money is held as payment for last month’s rent and not as security against things being broken or damaged. The landlord is required by law to pay you a small percentage of interest once a year on your rent deposit. This amount fluctuates yearly but was 2.5% in 2013. The rate is set by the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board. The first month’s rent is usually due on the first day of your tenancy.
3. Can a landlord ask for more than first and last month’s rent?
NO. Except for first and last month’s rent, it is illegal for a landlord to ask you to pay more than one month’s rent at a time. A landlord may ask you to pay for your keys only if you lose them, but this cannot be more than the actual cost of the keys. All other deposits are illegal (e.g. cost of appliances or curtains, a damage deposit in addition to last month’s rent, application fee).
4. What are my rights if I agree to take a place without having seen it first?
You have the right to an apartment or house that meets minimum health and safety standards. If possible, we recommend that you actually look at a place before entering into any rental agreement.
5. I signed my lease even though the place was in poor condition. Do I have the right to ask for repairs?
YES. The landlord has a responsibility to make sure your apartment or house meets minimum health and safety standards. Any contact with the landlord should be followed up in writing. If the landlord does not respond to your request, contact the Property Standards Department.
6. Can a landlord ask me for a guarantor or cosigner?
YES. A landlord may ask for a guarantor or cosigner. This person becomes responsible for the remaining rent or lease if you leave your apartment or house without paying the rent. A landlord may also ask for letters of reference from previous landlords, employers, or supervisors.
7. Can a landlord enter my apartment or house anytime?
NO. A landlord is required to give you written notice 24 hours in advance. In most cases, your landlord can only enter your home between 8 am and 8 pm. However, the law does allow your landlord to enter your place without notice if there is an emergency or if you agree to let her/ him in. If your landlord continues to enter your place without proper notice or for reasons unrelated to the rental and upkeep of the apartment or house, this may be harassment. You can contact the Human Rights Office for advice.
8. What might constitute harassment?
Harassment is a comment or action that is known, or should be known, to be unwelcome. Some examples include:comments about your appearance, comments about your private life, comments about your relationships, sexual suggestions or advances toward you, contacting you at unreasonable hours, entering your apartment without proper notice, comments about your cooking, cutting off important services like heat and electricity, or threats to harm you.
9. Can a landlord refuse to rent to me because of my disability?
NO. A landlord must make appropriate changes to the apartment or house to accommodate for your disability. Appropriate accommodation means that the landlord is required to make changes that meet your needs in a dignified way without causing undue hardship to her/his business. For more information, contact the Human Rights Office.
What Should I Know Before Renting a Place?
What constitutes the best place to live is not the same for everyone, therefore each student’s housing search will be different. Budget, proximity to school, shopping and services, and personal preference all play a role in helping you choose housing. Each situation however shares some commonalities:
- a written contract is the best way to be clear how much you are paying and for what – don’t be afraid to ask for clarification of what is meant by “clean”, or “shared”;
- you should never provide money until you are certain of your decision – rental contracts are usually binding, even if you feel a situation was misrepresented;
- you should always be given a receipt for any money given to the landlord;
- every person has the right to a home that meets minimum health and safety standards. Resources to help you understand your rights are available.