CHESS: Community Housing and Employment Support Services

Our Location

Downtown Legal Services (DLS) is offering drop-in appointments from 1pm-3pm for housing inquiries on Thursdays, from July 15 to August 23, 2024. 

Visit us in Room 246 in the Student Commons, located at 230 College Street, second floor.

How can CHESS support you as an employee

As an employee, you are entitled to fair treatment and protection. Drop by to receive guidance and specialized legal advice tailored to your specific employment challenges, helping you comprehend and assert your rights in the workplace.

How can CHESS support you as a tenant

Explore your tenant rights with us! Drop by to get answers to your questions and receive tailored legal advice on housing challenges, guiding you through the intricacies of the world of renting and housing.

Housing and Employment Needs Form

If you find yourself needing to contact us outside of our regular service hours, please fill out the Housing and Employment Needs Form, and we will reach out to you as soon as possible.

Our Services

At CHESS, we offer drop-in services to assist students in various important areas:


  • Understand Tenant Rights: Knowing your rights as a tenant is crucial when you are a renter. We provide information on tenant rights. 


  • Understand Workers Rights: Knowing your rights as an employee is crucial when you are a worker. We provide information on employee rights. 


  • Information and resources: We have information and resources on hand that can support your various questions.


  • Referral service: We can refer you to Downtown Legal Services when your questions require legal expertise. We can refer you to Campus Housing and the Campus Safety Office when your concerns require immediate action.

Downtown Legal Services


Downtown Legal Services (DLS), operated by the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto provides practical community legal support.

DLS believes in empowering the community by offering free legal services facilitated by their dedicated team of law students who are supervised by expert staff lawyers. Their central location is at 655 Spadina Avenue.

Whether you’re navigating issues with tenancy, seeking advice on employment rights, or addressing other legal challenges, DLS is here to help!


Getting out of a tenancy

Join us for a Lunch & Learn session where we’ll discuss the process of ending a tenancy early. Learn about important steps, including sending a notice to the landlord and best practices to consider before leaving a rental unit.

  • Date: Wednesday, January 31, 2024
  • Time: 12 pm – 2 pm
  • Venue: Room 544

Click here to sign up

Can my landlord do that?

Join us for a Lunch & Learn session to explore your rights as a tenant, including information on legal rent increases, clauses unenforceable by law, and the terms and conditions outlined in a lease.

  • Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2024
  • Time: 12 pm – 2 pm
  • Venue: B100

Click here to sign up

Know your right as a worker

Come join us for a Lunch & Learn session where we’ll delve into the essentials of worker entitlements. Gain insights into topics like vacation and overtime pay, and discover your rights to accommodation in the workplace.

  • Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2024
  • Time: 12 pm – 2 pm
  • Venue: B100

Click here to sign up


Employment Rights

Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)

Provides the foundation of workplace safety in Ontario, outlining rights and responsibilities for employers and employees. This legislation sets standards for safe practices, defines procedures for incident reporting and investigation, and fosters a culture of awareness and compliance.

Guide to the Employment Standards Act (ESA)

Provides information on minimum employment standards in Ontario to protect workers’ rights, covering areas like wages, working hours, overtime pay, vacation, and termination. This law ensures fairness, outlining basic rights and obligations for both employers and employees.

Employment and Work – Steps to Justice

A guide for navigating Ontario’s employment legal landscape. Whether you’re an employer or employee, it offers clear steps and insights on contracts, wages, workplace rights, and dispute resolution.

Workers Action Centre’s Action Guide for Fair Employment

A valuable resource equipping workers with insights and actionable steps to promote workplace fairness. 

Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)

Fosters inclusive communities by promoting equality and justice through education, advocacy, and enforcement. The Human Rights Codes highlight the grounds on which discrimination against employees is prohibited, ensuring a fair and respectful work environment for all.

Human Rights Legal Support Centre

Aids individuals with legal matters under the Ontario Human Rights Code, empowering them by resolving disputes, filing applications, representing at Tribunal hearings, and enforcing Tribunal orders when discrimination is identified

Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)

Provides essential resources for navigating legal information. Offering guidance on family law, tenant rights, and employment issues, CLEO empowers individuals to make informed decisions and confidently assert their rights.

Housing Rights

Housing Law – Steps to Justice 

Offers step-by-step information on tenant rights, landlord obligations, and various housing legalities. 

Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)

Offers expert assistance, legal support, and valuable resources to empower tenants throughout Ontario.

Landlord and Tenant Board | Tribunals Ontario 

Access crucial details and resources on residential tenancy matters in Ontario through guidance on rights, responsibilities, and dispute resolution. Easily find application forms with clear instructions on completion.

Federation of Metro Tenants Association

Offers details on tenant rights. For personalized inquiries about your rights and options, contact their Tenant Hotline at 416-921-9494.

Legal Aid Ontario

Provides free legal advice to people whose income is below a certain threshold. Use this directory to find a legal aid clinic in your neighborhood. Legal Aid Ontario also has specialty clinics which serve specific communities mentioned here. Legal Aid Ontario may also be able to pay for a lawyer to represent you. Apply online or call 416-979-1446 (Greater Toronto Area) or 1-800-668-8258 (toll-free).

Other Services

Toronto Workers’ Health and Safety Legal Clinic

➢Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Contact Centre

    Toll-free: 1-877-202-0008

➢ Employment Standards Information Centre

 GTA: 416-326-7160

Local Legal Aid Clinic

Workers Action Centre

Office of the Worker Adviser

University of Toronto Emergency Housing Support 

Toronto Rent Bank– Grants provide support to Toronto residents who are behind on their rent or need help with a rental deposit. Eligible residents can call the Toronto Rent Bank at 416-397-7368, Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for more information and to access rent relief.

Housing Stabilization Fund- Provides emergency funding to prevent

Homelessness. People who receive income support from Ontario Works (OW), the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), or Emergency Assistance (EA) can apply. You can apply by contacting your OW, ODSP, or EA caseworker.

Rental Housing Enforcement Unit 

You can file a complaint by calling 416-585-7214 or 1-888-772-9277 (toll free). They may be able to contact your landlord to resolve the issue.

If you have experienced discrimination in housing, you may wish to file an application with the Human Rights Tribunal. The centre has general information about human rights issues so they may also provide advice or represent you after you have filed an application with the Human Rights Tribunal.

Refers you to a lawyer or paralegal who can help with your housing issue. Your referral will include a free 30-minute consultation.

Provides a directory of lawyers and paralegals who provide service at reduced rates for people whose income is too high for Legal Aid Ontario, but too low for a standard lawyer.

Provides Free Legal Advice Hotline for 30 minutes free legal advice about housing. Their number is 1-855-255-7256 (toll free). They are open Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.