Where I live the law doesn't require a renter to fill out a contract. If a renter paid the damage deposit, and rent, and upon leaving the landlord refuses to return the damage deposit, how can the renter prove that he did in fact live there in court? Even if rent and damage deposit was paid through internet etransfer, it doesn't necessarily show it was for rent.

I know a person this happened to and he had to move out because the other tenants were doing drugs and the landlord refused to kick them out. So I doubt the other tenants would attest to the fact he was in fact living there.

  • Anything that's evidence in "real life" can be evidence in court. It doesn't have to be foolproof. Testimony of people who visited you there, mail addressed to you there, etc. Payment from you to a landlord is pretty strong evidence. Sure, the landlord could claim it was for something else, but what would they claim and how would they support it? Lying in court is a serious crime. (I am American, but the principles I describe are fairly universal.) Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 19:10

3 Answers 3


Essentially, if there is no written agreement or receipt of payment, the only records that exist will be in the payment itself. If it was paid by cash, there's probably no recourse without additional facts.

However, if it was paid electronically, then even if there's no narration (description) that claims that the payment was for rent, it is still possible that you would be able to file a summons requiring the recipient bank to produce the information relating to the entity that holds the account the money was sent to.

The information they have may be limited, but generally this would include:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth (for natural persons)
  • Phone number

The above information is typically required under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist funding legislation.

Additionally, if it was paid electronically, the regularity of the payments and the regular amounts may be persuasive.

Finally, it's not proof, but you can swear an affidavit or a statutory declaration attesting to the truth of your assertions, but without additional evidence (the aforementioned transaction information), it doesn't really hold weight on its own.


As it stands you don't have much proof, but it would most likely be very easy to acquire absolute proof. Under the Criminal Code Of Canada, it is legal to secretly record private conversations, so long as you are a participating party in the private conversation.

From C-46 Sub-Section 183.1

Where a private communication is originated by more than one person or is intended by the originator thereof to be received by more than one person, a consent to the interception thereof by any one of those persons is sufficient consent for the purposes of any provision of this Part.

Reading the code at length and other resources on the topic, pay special attention that you cannot be secretly recording conversations you're not a part of. Sticking a tape recorder somewhere and walking away is definitely going to be classified as criminal.

Simply phoning up the landlord and starting a conversation or argument about the issue will most likely lead to the landlord confirming the facts, one way or another. Put speaker phone on, download an app for recording and start doing so. Or if in person, turn it on drop it in your pocket. Discuss the issue until you get remarks confirming your facts. I've been in this situation, and as tempting as it is to rub it in their face that you've got them on the record, keep your mouth shut.

Proceed with whatever legal recourse you will. Pull out this evidence as an absolute last resort. You can savor that feeling of busting someone in a lie one-hundred fold when you have them tell the lie to the court, then play it back for everyone to hear.

Most Canadians I've spoken with can't believe this is legal. Talk to a lawyer, call up the non-emergency line of your local police, they will confirm it. I've done this without issue personally and have helped people do it successfully against even the police. Be a clear participant, you're in the clear.

More resources on the topic here and here.


In addition to the other answers, you might consider documents that most jurisdictions accept as valid elements in establishing physical residency. For example:

  1. Electricity bills
  2. Gas bills
  3. Phone bills
  4. Landscaping bills
  5. Water bills

While they're not as helpful as a lease to your end, they are an interesting consideration.

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