Information for Landlords: Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan
Residential Tenancies Act Amendments
Ontario is committed to ensuring the safety of those who are survivors of sexual and domestic violence. As part of its Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan, subject to legislative approval, Ontario is proposing to amend the Residential Tenancies Act to shorten the notice period to end a tenancy for tenants who are survivors of sexual and domestic violence. This will help remove financial barriers and help ensure survivors can leave an unsafe living environment quickly.
Current rules to terminate tenancy
Currently, to terminate most tenancies, a tenant must provide at least 60-days' notice, and if there is a lease, the termination date cannot be earlier than the last day of the lease period (i.e., at the end of the lease).
Proposed 28-day special notice provision
If the proposed amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act are passed, survivors would be able to use a special notice provision that would allow them to end their tenancy within 28 days. This would relieve them of any rent obligations after that point.
A tenant would need to provide at least 28-days' notice, and provide either a court order (i.e., a peace bond or restraining order), or a signed and dated statement attesting that they or a child residing in the unit have experienced domestic or sexual violence.
This documentation would be given in person or mailed to a landlord.
Landlord's role and responsibilities
Disclosing information about the notice
In order to keep survivors safe after they've filed the notice, landlords would be required to keep the notice, accompanying documentation, and any details about it confidential.
If there are other tenants living in the unit, landlords would only be able to disclose to co-tenants that the notice was given after the tenant has left. In addition, landlords would not be able to share any information that was in the notice or accompanying documentation.
In general, landlords would not be permitted to report information to police, immigration, or child welfare, except in certain necessary situations (for example, if the documentation is required by police for an ongoing investigation).
Re-renting the unit
During the notice period, the landlord would not be permitted to identify the unit in any rental advertisement or disclose the notice to any co-tenants or other persons living in the unit until after the tenant has left.
Offence provisions for suspected misuse of the special notice and confidentiality breaches
To deter misuse of the special notice provision and landlords from breaching tenant confidentiality, offence provisions are being proposed in the amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act.
If a landlord suspects that a tenant is misusing the special notice provision or provided false information, the landlord can file a complaint with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing's Investigation and Enforcement Unit.
If a landlord breaches the tenant's confidentiality, the tenant would be able to report the landlord to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing's Investigation and Enforcement Unit, and/or file an application with the Landlord and Tenant Board.
When amendments would take effect
If passed, the proposed amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act would come into force on July 1, 2016, or six months after Royal Assent, whichever is later.