Ontario Landlord Law On Property Showing

September 3rd, 2010 · 47 Comments · Rental Property

Many Ontario landlords and tenants just don’t know the law about renting a property after the tenant has given notice. Everyone just assumes that it’s 24 hour written notice just like with maintenance issues. It’s not.

A landlord can enter a rental unit without written notice, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. if:

  • the landlord or tenant has given a notice of termination, or they have an agreement to end the tenancy, and the landlord wants to show the unit to a potential new tenant (in this case, although notice is not required, the landlord must try to tell the tenant before entering for this reason).

This is an extremely important distinction because potential tenants want to see a place when they are available. They may be in the area or from out of town. Let’s face it the tenants who are vacating are not usually thrilled with having their personal space invaded either. That’s why the part about “trying” to tell the tenant is so important. Before a showing I try to call and leave a message and send an email letting the current tenant I am going to show the place.

Initial Arrangements are Crucial

The first time I meet current tenants of a place I am trying to rent, I tell them what the law is and how it works and that I will do my best to notify them as far ahead as I can that I will be entering. I send them the link to the appropriate Ontario Landlord & Tenant Board brochure.

I do go out of my way to create a pleasant situation for everyone, it’s just easier…but I can assure you that I almost never reschedule an appointment because the current one is not “convenient” for the current tenant. I don’t care so much about their convenience, they are leaving and I’m trying to save the landlord one month’s rent if I can. I have even offered current tenant who were not happy at having their privacy invaded a chance to pay an extra month’s rent if they really don’t want me to show the place. No one has ever taken me up on my generous offer.

Don’t Bother Showing The Place If…

There are certain times that showing a place is just a waste of time or even worse, likely to attract a bad tenant.

  1. It’s Dirty – No decent tenant will take a dirty place
  2. It’s Full of Gross Furnishings – Some people have very strange ideas about furniture, just his year I was asked to rent a place with a living room full of commercial DJ equipment and a motorcycle in the dining room.
  3. Current Tenants Are Hostile – I’m not sure what could be worse than the current tenant hanging around giving your potential tenants the stinkeye during the showing.
  4. The Place Stinks – Cat litter, food smells, dirty laundry, the list is endless.
  5. The Apartment Needs Significant Renovations – If the place is not in great shape, your chances of renting are minimal.
  6. Too Many Pets – Dogs are intimidating especially big ones, cats, well it depends how many there are. I have been attacked by a cat as well. I had to “convince” it to go into the laundry room, where I locked the hissing spitting demon in. Other pets may not be conducive to renting, one tenant had a large fish tank full of pet rats. Large iguana’s and snakes are not exactly tenant attracting material.

While you don’t want to lose a month’s rent, you also don’t want to waste your time and then lose a month’s rent. You also don’t want to get desperate and take a potentially bad tenant because you’re sick of showing the place over and over.

Rent It If You Can And Save Money

If the current tenants are decently clean and have nice furniture it’s worth the effort to try to rent the place and see if you can find a tenant to move in right away. This way you avoid losing one month’s rent. If they don’t mind just going for a walk during the showing that’s awesome. I have rented many places with tenants still in the apartment. Believe me the best case scenario is trying to rent a spotless place that looks staged, with nice designer furniture. I do see these on a regular basis. I’ve said it before there’s some great tenants out there and you won’t have problems renting their places out.

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47 Comments so far ↓

  • ont

    first time reader, great Blog! very informative. Thanks.

  • Landlord Tips - Getting The Apartment Ready | Landlord Rescue

    […] doesn’t require repair, show it before the other tenant leaves. Here’s a post about Ontario Landlord Law on Property Showing If the tenant is CLEAN you may well be successful and save yourself a month of […]

  • Jessica

    Thanks! This was just what I needed to hear! Our current tenants gave us notice and were trying to refuse prospective tenants entry. So this is great to know! Thanks again for taking the time to share!

  • Jessica

    could you link me to specific documentation from the landlord tenant act referring to this? I would be really appreciative!

  • Jessica

    Never mind I just noticed the first part of the article was part of the act! You ROCK!!

    • Rachelle

      Youre Welcome! Good Luck with that tenant.


        my landlord has my place up for sale and is giving 2 hours notice to show my place So unfair I always thought it was a 24 hour notice to show my home

          • CK


            If the notice is 24hrs, is it a true “24hrs”? We live in a unit and the landlord will sneakily slip a notice under the door, no knocking to see if anyone is home to discuss, just walks away. I just received a notice now at 7:15pm.

            It reads:

            “Please be advised we will require access to your unit on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 from 9:00am until 7:00pm to show your apartment to potential tenants.”

            First of all, is it reasonable to expect a unit to be available for an entire day? Not even an open house for a single property is granted such a length of time.

            Second, if the notice required is 24hrs, how is leaving a note under the door at 7pm the night before meet those requirements?

          • Rachelle

            No 24 hour notice is required for showings, the owner only has to try to contact you.

            A landlord can enter a rental unit without written notice, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. if:

            the rental agreement requires the landlord to clean the unit – unless the agreement allows different hours for cleaning,
            the landlord or tenant has given a notice of termination, or they have an agreement to end the tenancy, and the landlord wants to show the unit to a potential new tenant (in this case, although notice is not required, the landlord must try to tell the tenant before entering for this reason).

  • David

    I am trying to sell an apartment condo and my real estate agent insists on the current tenants vacating the unit during showings and open houses in order that confidential conversations can be had with prospective buyers. Is the vacating of a unit a courtesy or a requirement under the Residential Tenancy Act 2006?

    • Rachelle

      It is not at all required but a smart agent or owner who wanted to have the tenants go somewhere else might have the conversation with them asking them nicely and giving them a gift card so they can go have a free coffee or hang out somewhere.

  • Caroline Lavoie

    I want to sell my house in Ottawa. I am renting the upstairs unit. My real estate agent already has a couple prospective buyers and suggests we show them the rental unit before we even list the (whole) house for sale. Can we do that? Will we have problems with the tenants?

    • Rachelle

      Well you should tell the tenants you are planning to sell the house and you would like to show the upper unit. I don’t see why you couldn’t show the apartment as long as you give proper notice.

  • Rahim

    If I give my tenants 24 hours written notice that there will be a showing, do they have a right to refuse the showing?
    They are well aware that I am trying to sell the place. But keep refusing to allow showings when they are home even when I give them 24 hours notice.

    Also does e-mail count as written notice?

    • Rachelle

      No they don’t have a right to refuse but email is not an accepted method of scheduling showings. You must deliver 24 hour written notice on paper.

      • R

        Hi Rachelle, I spoke with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for Ontario.
        The confirmed with me that e-mail is an acceptable form of communication under section 191 of the RTA.
        (g) by any other means allowed in the Rules. 2013, c. 3, s. 42.
        Provided we are regular within our correspondences via e-mail and that they respond in the timely manner and that we have agreed to send written notification via e-mail. All of which we is true as they respond within minutes.
        Just want to know your thoughts on this. Thanks.

        • Rachelle

          Honestly, I prefer email to snail mail. But it’s not recognized as a legal means of service by the LTB.

          • jenny la

            You don’t even know the law how can I take anything you say seriously. If the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for Ontario considers e-mail an acceptable form of communication then it is. Simple.

          • Rachelle

            The Ontario landlord & tenant board doesn’t take service by email as legal service. This is a fact and currently the law. Neither does Small Claims Court. I want this to change before anything.

  • Christy

    I realize this is an older post, but I have questions from the tenant side of things. We notified our landlord that we’d be leaving over two months ago, just recently they decided to start showing the unit. I wouldn’t say we’ve had an amicable relationship with this person. Although at first they appeared to be considerate of our privacy and work schedule, they’re now deliberately scheduling at odd times when we aren’t home, on incredibly short notice. I’m fearful for my pets, because we can’t be with them when this happens. Ever since moving into this unit I noticed our cat has been terrified of people when he wasn’t before… I’m really suspicious that this landlord deliberately entered the home in the past without our knowing of it. What can I do in this situation? It’s entirely frustrating. It’s not that long before we’re out, but disregarding our concerns and entering when we don’t want this person to hardly seems acceptable. What advice do you have?

    • Rachelle

      The landlord can enter to show the unit as long as they try to contact you before. Keep in mind the sooner the landlord rents it, the sooner they stop showing the place.

  • Elisa

    Can the landlord show the place when selling it every single day twice a day and weekends holidays?

  • Robert

    Our owner would like to sell the townhouse we are renting. Can a real estate agent show the house with 24 hours notice, or must the landlord accompany them?

    Is the real estate agent allowed to take photographs of the townhouse that show our personal belongings? Can they oblige us move our belongings for the purpose of taking staged photographs?

    • Rachelle

      The real estate agent can show the house with 24 hour notice. No they cannot take pictures and put them on the internet without your permission. No I don’t think they can move your stuff around to take staged pictures…

  • Ryan

    If a landlord and a team of realtors aren’t smart enough to sell a luxury apartment in 40 showings in 6 weeks while their current tenant paid 7000 upfront and is now month to month….

    Maybe, there should be some convenience given for the tenant. Considering that all their neighbors are messy, the elevators don’t work, and while that property has gone on sale – they’ve been working or studying 100 hours a week for 14 months.

    If the landlord is paid 20000 a year for a box….

    what does this industry think it is?

    People that couldn’t make it anywhere else gravitate towards real estate.
    Toronto is fake enough without dealing with hostile land lords, realtors, and I’m sure tenants also.

    • Rachelle

      Well realtors have a job to do, and no one promised tenants or anyone a perfect inconvenience free life.

      I think this industry thinks it is a puppy trying on different hairstyles like this one. Puppy with different hairstyles.

    • jenny la

      I agree with Ryan.

      There doesn’t seem to be any consideration for the tenant given that the tenant is paying rent. Realtors are so desperate to make money and given the appearance and intelligence of the majority of real estate agents, I’m not surprised that this industry attracts the rejects. Most of them probably couldn’t get into law school and figured real estate sales was good enough.

      • Rachelle

        Let’s be clear, there are excellent agents that are very expert at their job, and add a lot of value. However; there is a whole cohort of agents that I wouldn’t allow to fill out a birthday card. The barrier to entry for real estate agents is a few bucks and some correspondence courses. It’s not that challenging. Any semester at any community college for almost any course will be more challenging than the real estate agent or mortgage agent course for that matter.

        I don’t really care, but if you’re going to tell me how great you are, don’t sell a property with tenants in it in December and close it January 4th. I actually sent the agent the form, you need 60 days starting the first day of the month. That’s just one example.

  • Julie Vetrov

    Can a landlord do an open house in order to choose the tenant of their choice after someone showed interest in their add and has filled out an application?

  • Loulou


    Can the agent turn on the lights of the property while showing it to prospective buyers?

    The agent has asked me to leave the property while showing it? Is that legal??

    • Rachelle

      How is the agent going to show the place without lights on? I don’t think they can make you leave while they show it, but honestly it makes it easier to show and for potential buyers to look at the place and appraise it.

  • Sam


    I have a particular situation. I’m a tenant who is due to leave at the end of December. I gave my two months and worked amicably with the rental agent to let her show the unit with at least an hour’s notice. I was told my unit was rented. My Landlord recently called at dinner time (1-2 weeks after it being rented) and said I want to show someone your unit. I said, you told me it was rented. She said it is, but that they have the right to show my unit to anyone now that I’ve given my notice, and that my particular unit is similar to the units coming up for rent. I said I don’t think my unit should be a show unit just because I’m leaving. Is she allowed to show my unit after renting it to people who will be renting other units? Thanks.

  • Donna

    We have paid our rent for the year, with 3 months remaining…We are relocating so wanted to sublet to recoup our money,,, now the landlord wants to sell…it is unreasonable of us to expect a refund for the last couple of months and we vacate early so he can sell the home….

    • Rachelle

      There’s no easy answer to this. Basically usually you would be within your lawful right to sublet, and the landlord is within his rights to put the place on the market. However no one in their right mind would ever sublet a place where a parade of potential buyers is invading your space continually.

      I would have a serious talk with the landlord, it’s also better for him to have the place empty while on the market.

  • Isabelle


    my tenant gave me his 60 day notice and i’m scheduling showings with potential tenants. In my opinion we have had a good tenant/landlord relationship over the last 1 and half while he rented. I allowed him to pick a convenient time for me to do the showings (over 24hrs notice) and now he is sending me angry emails after I asked if i could show the property without him there – do you have any suggestions on how to avoid conflict for the reminder of his lease?

    • Rachelle

      Send him the following from the LTB brochure http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/documents/ltb/Brochures/Guide%20to%20RTA%20(English).html

      A landlord can enter a rental unit without written notice, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. if:

      the rental agreement requires the landlord to clean the unit – unless the agreement allows different hours for cleaning,
      the landlord or tenant has given a notice of termination, or they have an agreement to end the tenancy, and the landlord wants to show the unit to a potential new tenant (in this case, although notice is not required, the landlord must try to tell the tenant before entering for this reason).

  • aaron

    So I take it the landlord and realtor can in all rights have a showing at any time, any number of times just as long as the tenant is notified before hand? But the tenants in all rights don’t have to leave the home during those showings?

  • Pat

    I live in an apartment building, I keep my apartment very clean at all times.
    My landlord constantly requests showing my apartment for insurance purposes, for appraisals and even if she is renting another unit, she want to show mine instead.
    It’s becomeing annoying that my apartment is becoming the “show room” of this builiding.

    She just requested on an email again another visit for an appraissal…

    Do I have to agree?, can I ask her to madke this request to another tenant in the building?

  • Michelle

    I’ve given my notice to my landlord and she has now started to show my apartment. I wouldn’t mind this if she TRIED to give me notice—which she hasn’t. Instead, she shows up at my door with a prospective renter at random times with zero warning. I have been in the middle of cooking, showering, and cleaning when people have come to view it. I don’t blame the prospective tenants, but this situation, while temporary, is incredibly frustrating and rude. Anything I can do?

    • Rachelle

      Tell her next time you’ll waxing your hoohaa in the living room unless she gives you a reasonable head’s up. Seriously that is rude and uncalled for but not illegal.