Does Rent Control Apply to Me?

By John Wigle, Student-at-Law, and Bhavin Bilimoria, Director of Legal Services, Don Valley Community Legal Services

Question: I have heard that some rental properties in Ontario are exempt from rent control. Is this true?

Answer: Yes, some rental properties in Ontario are exempt from the restrictions on rent increases imposed by the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the “RTA”). If your tenancy agreement is exempt from these restrictions, your landlord is entitled to increase the rent by as much as they want in a given year. Although specific kinds of tenancy agreements have long been exempt from rent control, the provincial government’s amendments to the RTA in late 2018 significantly increased the potential amount of buildings that can ignore the RTA’s rent increase guidelines. Therefore, it is important that you understand these changes before deciding whether to sign a tenancy agreement.

Under the RTA, landlords are only allowed to raise the rent once every 12 months for a given unit. The amount of the increase is limited to a percentage amount that the provincial government sets each year, which is referred to as the “guideline amount.” Landlords cannot increase the rent they charge by more than the “guideline amount” unless they get explicit permission from the Landlord and Tenant Board (the “LTB”)*. For example, in 2023 the guideline amount is 2.5, meaning that a landlord can only increase the rent by 2.5% this year. This policy serves to stabilize rental prices and protect tenants from being price-gouged on the basis of their need for shelter.

However, because of the provincial government’s amendments to the RTA, all properties that became a rental property after November 15, 2018 do not have to observe the “guideline amount” when increasing the rent on an annual basis. Therefore, if you are living in a building that was constructed after November 15, 2018, or a building that became a rental property for the first time after that date, there is no limit to the amount that your rent can increase each year. This has led to some tenants seeing their rent increasing by as much as 100% or more after a single year. While this might appear to be an unsustainable inflation in rental prices, the 2018 amendments to the RTA make this completely permissible.

There are some other limited situations where renters will not get the benefit of rent control under the RTA. These include the following:

  • The renter shares a kitchen or bathroom with the landlord;
  • The renter is a roommate and pays rent to the primary tenant; and,
  • The unit is in a housing co-op, social housing unit, or a rent-geared-to-income unit.

Given that the above examples constitute quite specific rental situations, before November 2018, the RTA ensured the vast majority of tenants in Ontario did get the benefit of rent control. This is becoming less and less the case as new buildings are constructed, or older buildings are demolished and rebuilt to take advantage of the 2018 amendments.

If you want to know whether your tenancy is subject to rent control, you need to find out if any unit in your building was on the market for rent prior to November 15, 2018. There is no specific method for acquiring this information, so your best option will be to ask your landlord in writing or contact your local City Councillor who may be able to provide information on permits for the building. Beyond these options, you could also file an application with the LTB by using an A1 form, “Application about Whether the Act Applies.” The LTB will then make a determination regarding whether the exemption applies to your unit.

If your landlord wants to increase your rent beyond the guideline amount because they believe your unit is exempt, they must notify you that your rent will be increasing by giving you a completed N2 form, “Notice of Rent Increase (Unit Partially Exempt)”. If you want to challenge the rent increase, you can apply to the LTB using the aforementioned A1 form.

If you have any questions about this or any other landlord and tenant matter, contact your local community legal clinic or the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA).

*For further discussion on rent increases in buildings that are subject to the rent increase guidelines, please see our article on legal and illegal rent increases here.

***This is legal information and not legal advice. If you need further information or need legal advice, please call our Intake Line at 416-441-1764 ext. 1 or complete our online Intake Form.***