The Standard Lease Template and New Rules to Protect Rental Tenants

There are new rules that protect you if you rent off-campus housing in Ontario.

Starting on April 30th, 2018 a new standard lease template must be used for all new leases of rental properties in the province. The standard lease aims to simplify the renting process and provide clear, easy to understand terminology regarding rent costs, which amenities and services are included, the term of the lease and other conditions. Here is a summary of what you can expect under the new standard lease:

Parts 1-3 of the standard lease require the legal names of the landlord(s) and tenant(s) to be provided, the rental unit address, and general contact information.

Part 4 lays out the term of the tenancy and the official start date.

Part 5 specifies exactly how often rent is to be paid, the amount it costs to rent the unit, as well as charges for other services and utilities. It also specifies the methods by which rent will be paid, and states that tenants cannot be required to use post-dated cheques or automatic payments, if they do not wish to do so. Rent can only increase by 1.8% automatically in 2018. Any rent increase above this must be approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board, and only after tenants can publicly oppose the move. You must be given 90 days notice of a rent increase.

Part 6 provides a checklist which landlords and tenants use to determine which services and utilities are included in rent, and which are subject to additional charges. The checklist includes things like electricity, heat, water, air conditioning and storage space.

Part 7 and 8 lay out the terms for rent discounts and deposits. Importantly, Part 8 states explicitly that a rent deposit may only be applied to the last month of the rental period, and cannot be any amount greater than the rent for one period.

Part 9 sets out the rules about key deposits, stating that they cannot be greater than the expected replacement cost for keys or access cards.

Parts 10-15 makes rulings on issues that have been flashpoints of contention between landlords and tenants, including smoking policies, whether tenant’s insurance is required, what changes to the unit can be made by a tenant, and provisions around subletting. 

Part 15 also lays out ‘void terms’, which are things that landlords are not permitted to include in a lease agreement. Examples of void terms include bans on pets, clauses preventing tenants from having roommates, or extra fees and deposits that are not included in the standard lease. No legal lease may include these clauses.

The standard lease template also includes an appendix with general information, which includes the process by which a tenancy can be lawfully terminated, how often rent can be increased and by how much, rules around maintenance and repairs, as well as rules governing when landlords can legally enter a unit.

The standard lease template is designed to make renters more aware of their rights and protections. The standard lease does not apply to everyone, however. University residences are governed instead by University of Toronto policy, not the Residential Tenancies Act, meaning they are exempt from using the standard lease. People living in social housing are also not covered by the new standard lease, as their tenancy is facilitated by the municipal government, not a private landlord.

For those who are entitled to a standard lease, you must receive one from your landlord when you sign a new lease. If you are not given a standard lease, you should formally request one in writing. If you are not provided with a standard lease after 21 days, you may withhold one month’s rent. If your landlord does not provide you with a standard lease for 30 calendar days after you withheld rent, you may keep that rent – your landlord forfeits their right to collect it if they refuse to provide a standard template.

For more information about the standard lease template, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/renting-ontario-your-rights