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Can I withhold rent to get my landlord to do something?

Can I withhold rent to get my landlord to do something?
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA)
Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations

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Can I withhold rent to get my landlord to do something?
This question has an answer and 4 steps
October 31, 2017

Sometimes it might seem fair to stop paying some or all of your rent if your landlord isn't giving you what you are paying for. For example, your landlord might be harassing you, invading your privacy, or refusing to do repairs.

But it can be very risky to stop paying your rent in order to resolve problems with your landlord.

If you do not pay your full rent, your landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to try to have you evicted.

If your landlord applies to the Board, you can ask the Board to consider the problems you are having with your landlord. But you could still be evicted if the Board doesn't believe you, or doesn't think the problems are serious enough.

If you want to move

Even if you plan to move out because of the problems, it can still be risky to stop paying the rent. While you are still living there, your landlord can apply to the Board to order you to pay. Or after you move, your landlord can sue you in court.

It might be hard to convince a Board member or a judge that you shouldn't have to pay the rent. You will need strong evidence that the problem was very serious.

If the Board or a court orders you to pay, it can affect your credit record. This can make it harder for you to rent another place or borrow money.

And if you didn't give proper notice to move, you might owe even more rent.

A safer way

If you can't get your landlord to respect your rights, it is safer to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board instead of holding back rent.

There are several kinds of remedies the Board can order when landlords don't do repairs, don't respect your privacy, and in many other situations.

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