top of page
An African American gentleman relaxing at home

Legal Assistance for Landlord & Tenant Disputes in Cornwall & Area

The rules surrounding landlord and tenant agreements are governed by a provincial law known as the Residential Tenancies Act (2006). This law covers the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants. If you are a tenant involved in a legal dispute with your landlord, call Roy McMurtry Legal Clinic in Cornwall for a free consultation.

Roy McMurtry Legal Clinic provides legal support and advice to low income individuals and groups faced with a tenant law dispute, such as:

  • Eviction applications*

  • Getting repairs done

  • Harassment issues

  • Social Housing Reform Act matters

*If the reason for the tenant being evicted is due to rent arrears and non-payment, the matter is referred to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Do You Know the Law?

View information on tenant law from the CLEO website.

Service Limitations

To avoid conflict-of-interest situations, our legal clinic only represents tenants involved in landlord-tenant disputes. Additionally, Roy McMurtry Legal Clinic does not represent tenants in situations involving co-tenants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on tenant law, including:

Starting a Tenancy

Do I have to sign a lease?

No. However, most landlords require you to sign a lease, which is their right. Generally, a lease will be for a 12 month period. Once that 12 month period has expired, you do not legally have to sign a new lease. Your tenancy will go month to month. The advantage to being a month-to-month tenant is that you only have to give 60 days written notice to move.

What information does a landlord have to give to a new tenant?

The landlord must provide his/her legal name and address to the tenant. A landlord must also give new tenants the Information for New Tenants brochure. This brochure provides information about the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, the role of the Landlord and Tenant Board and how to contact the Board.

If you were asked to sign a lease, the landlord has 21 days to give you a signed copy of that lease.

Can a landlord ask for a last month's rent deposit?

Yes. A landlord can collect a last month’s rent deposit if it is requested on or before the day that the landlord and tenant enter into the tenancy agreement. The deposit cannot be more than one month's rent and it can be used only for the last month before the tenancy ends. It cannot be used for anything else, such as to pay for damages.

Can the landlord charge the tenant a damage deposit?


Can the landlord refuse to rent to a person if the person has a pet?

Yes, if a landlord has a “no pets” policy. However, The Residential Tenancies Act states that any clause in a lease that prohibits pets is void. This means that once a person becomes a tenant, if the person has a pet, even though the lease says pets are
not allowed, the landlord cannot evict the tenant just for having the pet.

However, the landlord can give a tenant an eviction notice if the pet causes damage or disturbs the neighbours.

Can a landlord ask a person applying for a rental unit to provide information about income, credit references and rental history?

Yes. However, the Ontario Human Rights Code has special rules about asking for information about the income of a prospective tenant. Landlords must follow these rules.

What should I know before I move in with a roommate?

Sharing a rental accommodation has its own unique challenges. It is not always clear what your rights and responsibilities are in this situation. CLEO has developed a web tool to help you figure out which laws apply to your situation and what your rights and responsibilities are. Click here to access this web tool.


How often can the rent be increased?

Rent can be increased once every 12 months provided that the landlord has given the tenant written notice of the increase at least 90 days before the rent increase is to take effect.

How much can a landlord legally increase the rent?

In most cases, a landlord can only increase a tenant’s rent by the annual guideline set by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Does a landlord have to give rent receipts?

Yes, if a tenant asks for them. The landlord cannot charge for providing receipts.

When is the rent due?
Unless the landlord and tenant have made a different arrangement, rent is due on the first of the month. If rent is not paid on time, the landlord can begin the eviction process.

Can a landlord ask a tenant to pay money to update the rent deposit?

Yes. If the rent increases after a tenant has paid a rent deposit, the landlord can ask the tenant to pay an additional amount towards the last month’s rent deposit so that it is the same as the new rent.

If a tenant gives notice that he/she wants to move and the landlord has not previously asked the tenant to top up the rent deposit, the landlord has the right to ask the tenant to pay an additional amount towards the rent for the last month, so that it is equal to the current rent.

Does a landlord have to pay interest if a rent deposit is collected?

Yes, the landlord must pay the tenant interest on the rent deposit every 12 months. The amount of interest is equal to the rent increase guideline that is in effect when the interest payment is due.

Can a landlord charge a fee if a tenant's rent cheque is returned NSF?

If a tenant's rent cheque is returned NSF, a landlord can ask the tenant to pay for the charges the landlord has to pay to the bank, plus an administrative charge up to $20.

Maintenance & Repairs

Who is responsible for maintaining the rental unit?

It is the landlord's responsibility to maintain the unit and to ensure that it is in a good state of repair, even if:

  • the tenant was aware of problems in the unit before moving in,

  • the landlord puts into the lease that the tenant is responsible for maintenance.

The tenant is responsible for keeping the unit clean as well as for repairing or paying for any damage caused by the tenant, their guests or another person living in the rental unit.

What should a tenant do if the building or apartment needs repair

If repairs or maintenance are required, the tenant should send the landlord a letter outlining the repairs that need to be made. That letter should include a time frame for completion of the repairs. Click here for a sample letter. Be sure and keep a copy of the letter for your files.

If the landlord fails to make the repairs, the tenant may want to contact the local Property Standards office, depending on the type of problem. The tenant may also consider filing an application with the Landlord and Tenant Board for a rent abatement and for an order that the landlord make the repairs.

What temperature does my landlord have to keep my apartment at?

In Cornwall, if heat is included in your rent, the landlord must ensure that rental units be kept at 21°C during the day and 16°C at night. If you do not live in Cornwall, you should check with your municipality for their rules regarding heat.

Does a landlord have to renovate or paint a rental unit before a new tenant moves in? Or, renovate or paint it after the tenant has lived there a couple of years?

No. The landlord is not required by law to ‘update’ a rental unit with cosmetic renovations. However, the landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex and the rental units in a good state of repair and fit for habitation.

Entering the Tenant's Unit

Can a landlord enter a tenant's unit?

A landlord can enter a rental unit in the case of an emergency or where a tenant allows the entry.

Once the tenant has given notice the he/she will be moving out, the landlord can enter the unit to show it to prospective tenants. The landlord is not required to provide advance notice to the tenant, however, entry can only occur between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and the landlord must inform or make a reasonable effort to inform the tenant of the entry.

In all other instances, the landlord must provide the tenant written notice 24 hours before the entry will occur. The notice must state when the landlord will enter and the reason for the entry. If proper notice has been given, the tenant cannot refuse the
landlord entry.

Can a tenant change or add locks?

A tenant cannot change the locks unless the landlord agrees. If the tenant does change or add locks, a copy of the key must be given to the landlord immediately.

Can the landlord change locks?

A landlord can change locks while the tenant is living in the unit as long as the landlord gives the keys for the new locks to the tenant.

Terminating a Tenancy

Can a tenant break a lease?

Not unless the landlord agrees—something that rarely happens. However, a tenant can assign the remainder of the lease to a new tenant, basically the tenant would be giving what is left of the lease to this new tenant. The landlord has a right to approve the prospective new tenant, and that approval cannot be unreasonably withheld.

If you are a month-to-month tenant, in other words you are not on a lease or the lease has expired, you must give the landlord 60 days' notice in writing to move out.

How much notice does a tenant have to give to move out?

If a tenant is month-to-month, i.e. no lease, he or she must give the landlord 60 days' written notice to move out. If there is a lease the tenant must still give 60 days notice in writing but cannot do so until 60 days before the end of the lease.

What is the process for evicting a tenant?

The first thing the landlord must do is provide a written notice to the tenant explaining the problem and indicating that if the problem is not fixed, the landlord will continue with the eviction proceeding.

Can a tenant be evicted in the winter?


For what reasons can a landlord evict a tenant?

There are a number of reasons for evicting a tenant, although the most common one is non-payment of rent. Some of the other reasons for eviction include: persistent late payment of rent, disturbing the neighbours, damage to the unit, criminal activity, the landlord requires the unit for himself or a member of his immediate family.

What should a tenant do if he/she receives a Notice of Termination?

The tenant should first read the notice to see why and when the landlord is asking him/her to leave. If the issue cannot be worked out with the landlord, the tenant should seek legal advice.

Important Contacts for Tenants

Property Standards

Landlord & Tenant Board

Property Standards (Cornwall)

613-930-2787 Ext. 2310

Property Standards (South Glengarry)

Property Standards (North Glengarry)

Property Standards (South Stormont)

613-534-8889 Ext. 232

Property Standards (North Stormont)

Property Standards (South Dundas)

613-543-2673 (If urgent)

Property Standards (North Dundas)

Filing a Repair Request

This simple form makes it easy to document and file a repair request with your landlord. Download and view the repair request form (PDF).


Schedule an Appointment

Get one-on-one advice from a legal professional.


Links & Resources

Discover important legal resources and information.

Starting a Tenancy
Maintenance & Repairs
Entering the Tenant's Unit
Terminating a Tenancy
bottom of page