If you decide to move out, you have the right to move back into your unit once the work is finished. This is sometimes called the “right of first refusal”.
To have this right of first refusal, you must tell the landlord in writing before you move out that you want to move back in when the work is done. You must also give your landlord your new address in writing and any change of address after that. It's a good idea to send these documents by registered mail and keep a copy for yourself, in case you need to prove that you did it.
And if you choose to move back in, your landlord can’t charge you a higher rent than they could if you had stayed.
If your landlord doesn’t let you back in
Sometimes landlords don’t respect the right of first refusal. They sometimes decide to rent the place to someone else, usually at a much higher rent.
If your landlord doesn’t let you back in, you might be able to get compensation by applying to the Landlord and Tenant Board. You must apply within one year after the day you moved out.
The Board can order the landlord to pay your moving costs. If the rent is higher at your new place, the Board can order the landlord to pay the difference in rent for up to one year. Your landlord might also have to pay a fine to the government.
And if the place has not yet been rented to someone else, the Board can order your landlord to let you move back in.
Trying to keep your place
But if a new tenant has already moved in, the Board probably won’t order the landlord to let you back into your place. So if keeping your place is important, it’s best to make sure the landlord doesn’t rent it to someone else.
This can be hard to do. You could try going back to the place often, to see how far along the renovations are, and to look for any signs that your landlord is planning to rent your place to someone else. You might have neighbours who could let you know if they notice anything. For example, they might see a For Rent sign, or notice the landlord showing the unit.
You could also check to see if your place is being advertised for rent. You might have to check in different places, including online sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, AirBnB, and others.
If you find evidence that the landlord might be planning to not let you back into your place, you need to take action quickly to stop them from getting a new tenant. You should try to get legal help.