If your tenant is behind in the rent, you cannot do anything that affects the supply of utilities, as this would be an offence under the Residential Tenancies Act, and would allow the tenant to take you to the Landlord and Tenant Board for a rent abatement.
You should serve the N4 in the proper manner, giving 14 days for the tenant to pay or move out, and then file an L1 with the Board on or after the 15th day.
The rules around giving notice for landlord’s own use are being changed at the moment, as a result of the Rental Fairness Act, 2017. Details of the new rules can be found on our website here: http://landlordselfhelp.com/bill-124-rental-fairness-act-2017/
There are more people constantly coming in and out of the unit than were listed on the lease. Can I increase utility costs by $100 per person to account for higher utility usage?
You cannot charge or ask extra money for the extra utility usage since this would be a unilateral change to the contract that you entered into with the tenant. The only thing you can do is charge a regular guideline rent increase one year after the tenancy expires.
The same goes with the extra people living or visiting, unless there is overcrowding according to the local municipality, tenants are free to have as many people visiting/living with them as they please.
Who is responsible for the new charges for garbage removal in the City of Toronto? Does the lease have to specifically address who is responsible for these charges, or is the charge considered a “utility”?
Currently the Residential Tenancies Act does not have any provisions about this particular issue, our understanding is that these costs cannot be passed on to existing tenants. However, for a new tenancy if the tenants will be paying for these charges it must be specifically addressed in the lease agreement as a separate charge.
You are correct in assuming that you do not have any remedy available at present to deal with a spike in utility increases. As you can see from this brochure put out by the Landlord and Tenant Board http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/documents/ltb/Brochures/2017%20Rent%20Increase%20Guideline%20(EN).htmlyou will not be able to apply to increase the rent above the guideline until you have had a full year of increased costs to compare to a previous year’s costs. This guideline goes into more detail on the issue: http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/documents/ltb/Interpretation%20Guidelines/14%20-%20Applications%20for%20Rent%20Increases%20above%20the%20Guideline.html. Even then, between the costly application fee and the complicated and onerous calculation rules, we do not recommend making such an application unless assisted by a rent control consultant.
The tenant is behind on their gas utility payment and the gas has been disconnected today. I know this is not considered rent as per the Act. I do not see a form available that applies to this situation when the tenant agreed to pay for all utilities.
If the tenant is owing you for the utilities, the only way to proceed to recover the money from them is to file a claim in Small Claims Court. The Landlord and Tenant Board does not deal with utility issues.
The rent includes utilities and we are concerned about the cost of heating this winter. The tenants have verbally agreed to a $75 monthly increase which is above the guideline amount. Can I do this? What forms are required?
If the tenants agree to pay an extra charge for utilities that they were not paying for previously, the law states that the rent will then have to be adjusted and reduced to compensate for the removal of services that were previously included in the rent; otherwise it would still be considered an illegal rent increase. There is no particular form to be used in this case but it is recommended to have a written agreement that you can draft up yourself.
The rent includes water which, until this year, was flat rate. The municipality has changed to a metered service which is costly. I’d like the tenants to pay for their own water usage, how can I do this?
If you have an agreement where the water or other utilities are included in the rent, then there isn’t a way you can change it at this point. Whether the water is provided to you at a flat rate or on a metered basis, you cannot reduce or remove the service without their permission. If the tenants do agree to take on the responsibility of paying their own water, you would have to reduce the rent to compensate (using the average monthly cost of the reduced service) for the removal of services that was previously included in the rent.
The propane company won’t put the bill under the tenant’s name, so they have agreed to pay me $150 each month. As of right now they have $813.51 outstanding. Am I allowed to serve them an eviction notice for non-payment of rent?
Since this is a charge for utilities, it would not be considered rent and you cannot serve the 14 day notice as you would for unpaid rent. In this case, your recourse would be to serve a N5 notice or file a claim in Small Claims Court since the Landlord and Tenant Board does not deal with unpaid utilities charges.
The city does not change the water bill to the tenant’s name, it remains in the owner’s name. Therefore when the bill is not paid the municipality does not try to collect from the tenant even though your tenancy agreement may state that the tenant is responsible to pay. Typically, the municipality will usually add the arrears to your property tax bill. Unfortunately in this case, the only recourse for you would be to file a claim against the former tenant in Small Claims Court.
Tenant pays gas separate from rent and it has been shut off for nonpayment. What if my pipes freeze?
You cannot force the tenant to pay the gas bill, and the Landlord and Tenant Board does not acknowledge potential damage as grounds to terminate a tenancy. So, unless the tenant moves out you are faced with the following choices. You can either: 1 – Approach the tenant about agreeing to change the terms of the rental agreement to include gas and possibly hydro in the rent, in exchange for an increase in rent to reflect the average extra charge that you will incur, once the gas bills go into your name; 2 – Switch the bill to your name anyway, and sue the tenant in Small Claims Court at a later date for the extra cost you’ve incurred as a result of the tenant’s breach of the lease agreement. Either of these scenarios will hopefully avoid a potential situation involving burst pipes, flood, insurance claims and so forth. 3 – Speak the utility provider about making temporary payments to keep the utilities on. This may be difficult due to privacy law restrictions, and they may want the tenant to be involved in any changes. Otherwise, the tenant may agree to vacate very soon, and if so, you should try to get a termination agreement signed (From N11). All the forms are available from the Landlord and Tenant Board website – www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/forms/.
If this tenant has never paid for hydro, legally the tenant does not have to start paying now unless he agrees to it. However if he does agree to it, you will have to reduce his rent because he would now be paying for a service that was previously included in the rent.
If a tenant has not paid their utility bill and they are no longer in possession of the rental unit, the landlord may file a claim against the former tenants in the Small Claims Court.
My tenant is refusing to pay the hot water portion of the utility bill and has deducted this amount from the rent payment, what should I do?
If the tenant agreed to pay for hydro then the tenant is responsible for the entire hydro bill unless otherwise specified in the tenancy agreement. You can give your tenant a N4 Notice for Non-Payment of Rent if he/she has deducted any amount from the rent and the Landlord and Tenant Board can make a decision on the issue.
My tenant is moving out at the end of the month, and I have new tenants coming in. If I put the hydro in my name and then into my new tenants name is will cost more. Instead can I put it directly in the new tenants’ names before they move in?
We do not generally recommend involving the new tenant at this point, because it is not really their problem. Since the contract with the new tenants begins on January 1st, you can only follow through on your contract if you have clear possession of the unit (for example, if the old tenant returns the keys) so that they can move in on the date agreed to. If you do not have possession and the new tenants do agree to bring the move-in date forward, then you can put the account in their name WITH THEIR CONSENT. Otherwise, I would say that you may have to temporarily be the account holder.
There isn’t any notice you can serve to address this situation. Since you’ve paid the utilities since they moved in you cannot stop now, the only recourse you have is to file a claim in Small Claims Court to try and recover the money
My former tenant, without my knowledge, had the utilities for the rental unit put in my name, defaulted on the payments and abandoned the rental unit. The utility company is now asking to me to pay the bill, what can I do?
If the tenants have vacated the rental unit without paying the utility bill, a landlord may bring a claim against the former tenants in Small Claims Court.
It has come to our attention that we have been paying for hot water tanks for 5 townhouses that tenants did not put into their names as per their lease. Is there anything we can do to recoup this loss?
We know of no clear and definitive case law on the issue of the responsibility of parties when it comes to the providing, maintenance of and payment for rental hot water tanks. We are not sure if your own municipality has property standards that require the property owner to provide or maintain appliances like hot water tanks (most do not). As you must know Section 20 of the Residential Tenancies Act requires that the landlord maintain the premises and comply with all municipal health, safety, housing, and maintenance standards. So if there are no municipal restrictions on the landlord, then a properly worded lease may be a solid foundation for your argument that the tenant should pay you for what they contracted to do, even if you cannot now make them transfer the account or payment into their name. If they refuse to switch or pay you, and the amounts owing are significant enough to make it worth your while, you could pursue the matter in Small Claims Court. The tenant will likely argue “implied use,” meaning that you failed to raise the matter soon enough, and have therefore accepted the current “arrangement” over time.
Is the hot water tank rental the responsibility of the landlord or is that a utility that the renter should pay when they pay a monthly rent plus utilities?
The Residential Tenancies Act states that the landlord is responsible for “vital services” which are defined as hot or cold water, fuel, electricity, gas and heat unless the tenant expressly agrees to “obtain and maintain” the vital services. In order to have the tenant pay for the rental of the hot water tank the lease agreement should be specific and state that “the tenant expressly agrees to obtain and maintain all vital services including heat, electricity, water, hot water and rental of hot water tank”.
Requiring the tenant to pay additional costs at year end is not a reasonable arrangement. There are often problems related to collecting the difference later on without it being considered some form of illegal additional charge.
If you already have a lease that is all inclusive there isn’t a way you can change it at this point unless the tenants agree. However, even if they do agree you would then have to reduce the rent to compensate for the removal of services that were previously included in the rent. You’re allowed to increase the rent once every twelve months, if these tenants have been there for twelve months, the other option you have is to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for a rent increase above the guideline which is 1.5% for 2017. However, you will have to show that the utilities have increased by more than the guideline plus 50%.
I rent a duplex and include the costs of water usage in the rent. I would like to change the tenancy agreements to exclude water as I have separate meters for each unit. Please advise on the proper method of making these changes.
Section 125 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 only allows such changes by agreement, and then requires the rent to be reduced by a prescribed amount if the parties both agree to the change. Usually this means that the rent will be reduced by the average actual cost to the landlord. So if the water costs $600 per year on average, then the monthly rent would be reduced by $50 – since the tenant will have to likely pay this amount, separate from their rent, to the utility company or provider. Decrease in services, etc. “25. A landlord shall decrease the rent charged to a tenant for a rental unit as prescribed if the landlord and the tenant agree that the landlord will cease to provide anything referred to in subsection 123 (1) with respect to the tenant’s occupancy of the rental unit. 2006, c. 17, s. 125.” Section 125 deals with parking or a list of 12 other services or facilities, namely: 1. Cable television. 2. Satellite television. 3. An air conditioner. 4. Extra electricity for an air conditioner. 5. Extra electricity for a washer or dryer in the rental unit. 6. Blockheater plug-ins. 7. Lockers or other storage space. 8. Heat. 9. Electricity. 10. Water or sewage services, excluding capital work. 11. Floor space. 12. Property taxes with respect to a site for a mobile home or a land lease home. O. Reg. 516/06, s. 16 (1). We realize this is not the answer you were expecting, but we hope it has been helpful.
I bought a house and assumed the tenants. The utilities were included in the rent, but the tenants have multiple large aquariums resulting in greatly increased costs. They won’t agree to pay the difference. When can the lease be revised?
In this situation, you don’t really have too many options. Since the utilities are already included in the rent, there is no legal way to have the tenants pay for the excess costs of the hydro/water. The only way that would be permissible is if the tenants agree to start paying for the utilities. However, even if they do agree to start paying for the utilities now, you would have to reduce the rent to compensate for the removal of a service that was previously included in the rent. The only other option you have is to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for a rent increase above the guideline based on an extraordinary increase in utilities. The following link provides more information on above guideline increases and the process involved: http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/Brochures/2017%20Rent%20Increase%20Guideline%20(EN).html.
There aren’t any particular rules set out in the law about utilities and how one would distribute the costs in a situation such as yours. Therefore, this is a matter to discuss with the tenants and try to come up with a reasonable distribution plan for the bills.
How can I require a tenant to pay a fair portion of the utilities when previously utilities was included in rent?
If you already have an agreement in place where the utilities are included in the rent you cannot change it at this point unless the tenant agrees to it. However, even if the tenant did agree to pay a portion of the utilities you will have to reduce the rent to compensate for the removal of this service that was previously included in the rent.
Unfortunately we do not know of a way that you can protect yourself should the tenant decide to remove their name from the account, other than requesting that Toronto Hydro notify you if this happens.
Due to skyrocketing hydro and fuel prices I can no longer afford to pay utilities and the mortgage on my rental property, what can I do?
If you have an agreement where the utilities are included in the rent there isn’t a way you can change it unless the tenants agree. However, even if they do agree to start paying for the utilities now you would then have to reduce the rent to compensate for the removal of services that were previously included in the rent. The only other option you have is to increase their rent if they have already been there for twelve months, the rent increase guideline for 2017 is 1.5% and you would give them 90 days notice using the prescribed form which is Form N1.
Can I charge extra for air conditioners if I am paying utilities? Do I have to give them a written notice?
A landlord cannot charge extra when a tenant acquires an air conditioner unless it has been clearly specified in a written tenancy agreement that the tenant will pay extra if they chose to have an air conditioner.
If the utility accounts are in the tenant’s name and they default the landlord will not be held responsible. The utility companies have to collect from the person who is on the account.