Do You Live in a Care Home in Ontario? Yes? Do You Know Your Rights?

Just as young twenty-somethings who are living four to an apartment, trying to live on the cheap  whilst getting an education have rights, so do 80-somethings living in a care facility - but there are some differences in the two scenarios.

In the province of Ontario, should you live in a “care home”, which is officially defined as “residential buildings where people live so that they can receive ‘care services’, your rights and obligations are laid out in the Residential Tenancies Act.

The first question you should ask is whether you are living in a care home, as defined above, or in a facility that provides care, but is not considered a care home under the Ontario government definition, such as long-term care facilities, which are governed under a different set of rules.

A more specific definition of a care home

A care home is able to provide, or provides, services like nursing care, medication management, emergency care and personal care such as feeding, managing incontinence, assistance with dressing and so on.

Places where you can get care that are not care homes

Not all places where you can live and receive special care are considered to be care homes by the Ontario government. Private or public hospitals, residential homes that provide care for residents, places where respite care is provided, in the short term, and homes that provide short term rehabilitative care for under one year all fall outside of the definition of care homes, and are governed by different rules.

Yes, You Are Living in A Care Home in Ontario. What Does This Mean?

You should become familiar with two documents: The Care Home Information Package and the Written Tenancy Agreement.

The Care Home Information Package

If you’ve determined that you are living, or are considering moving into, a care home, you should be aware of the following:

Your landlord is required to give you a Care Home Information Package that lists

  • the different kinds of accommodations available
  • the meal and care services
  • the qualifications of staff members
  • the minimum staffing levels
  • the details of provided emergency services or a clear statement that no emergency services are provided
  • services that you pay for ad hoc including supplied meals.
  • a description of any internal processes for dealing with complaints, or a clear statement that there no such process exists.

Should your landlord fail to give you a Care Home Information Package, she may not make any changes to the rent or to the services provided until she provides this package.

The Written Tenancy Agreement

 A written tenancy agreement must be signed by the renter and landlord in a care home: it is the law. You should know that:

  • The care services and meals that are to be provided must be listed in the agreement, as well as the amount that is to be paid for them.
  • If you sign an agreement and change your mind about it, you have 5 days within which to do so legally. You must give written notice of your desire to cancel the agreement.
  • If you have not been provided with a written agreement, you can ask for an abatement of rent by filing what is called an Application about Tenant Rights (T2) and sending it to the Landlord and Tenant board.
  • The rent in a care home can only be increased once a year, and you must be given 90 days notice of any increase.
  • It is extraordinarily important to understand that in a care home, while the rent can be increased only once a year, that fees for meals and services can be raised at any time and by any amount.
  • You have the right to hire outside help for personal care should you wish, your landlord does not have the legal right to prevent you from doing this.
  • You are required to give 30 days notice if you want to move out of your residence. A special form is used to provide this notice - it is called a Notice to Terminate a Tenancy at the End of the Term, (Form N8)). 
  • If your landlord must discontinue renting your unit in a Care Home because it is to be demolished, or will no longer be rented, but used for another purpose or major repairs are to be done, that require the tenant to leave, the landlord must try to find you another reasonable place to live. If you accept the suggested replacement home, you are not owed any financial compensation.
  • If you die while a tenant, your lease expires in 30 days, though your estate only has to pay for 10 days past the date of your death.
  • It is important to understand that if your spouse lives with you and you die, and your spouse is not named as a renter on the lease, she has 30 days within which to leave the unit.

Should you want to learn more about your rights as a resident in a care home in Ontario, follow this link:

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