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Ontario Rentals – Changes Coming to Leases

Blog by Doriana Zohil-Morton, Broker of Record/Owner | February 28th, 2018

The Ontario government has implemented some changes to standard leases for rental properties. These changes take effect April 30th, and provide more clarification for all parties involved. Landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities remain unchanged. Just the lease changes. So just what are these changes? Well, let’s summarize for you.

Who does it Impact
Anyone renting (or renting out) a condo, house, semi-detached house, or secondary unit (ex: basement apartment). Apartment buildings must also use the new standardized lease for all units.

What Happens April 30th
For any lease that takes effect April 30, 2018 and onwards, it must be the new standardized lease. If a lease is signed after this date that is not the standardized format, the tenant has the right to ask for the new standardized lease. And the landlord must provide this new lease within 21 days of the tenant's written request. Should the landlord not provide the new lease, the tenant is permitted to withhold a maximum of one months rent. If the landlord still does not comply, the renter may give 60 days notice to end the lease (even if it’s a fixed-term or yearly lease). This also works if the tenant does not agree with the terms of the new lease.

Though take note tenants… you are not permitted to ask for the new lease if you signed a fixed-term lease prior to April 30, 2018 which automatically renews to a month-to-month after April 30th. And you can’t withold more than one months rent.

Beloved Pets & Guests
This new lease means that renters are allowed to have pets. Landlords are no longer permitted to say “no pets” or “restricted pets”, unless the rental unit is in a condominium with clear by-laws restricting pets. Those furry friends of your tenant are part of the deal. So are their guests (furry or not). Tenants do NOT have to tell the landlord about any and all of their guests. Ever. However, the tenant is responsible for their guest’s actions on the rental property.

Landlord Entry
Landlords are well within their rights to enter a rental property for maintenance and such. What this new lease dictates is for what reason they can enter and what notice is required to be given to the tenant. So take heed landlords… your days of snooping on your tenants have come to an end.

Tenants are not permitted to change the locks to the rental property without giving a copy to the landlord.

Ending a Tenancy
Landlords are only permitted to end a tenancy if they, or one of their family members, intends to occupy the suite/house, or they intend to sell. That’s it. Have an unruly tenant? Follow the rules for eviction.

If you are tenant that wishes to move out, you have rules to follow too. Notice must be given in writing, and the lease cannot be terminated without agreement from the landlord. In certain extenuating circumstances, leases can be broken. But they are rare and specific.

Subletting happens. This new form spells out the rules. And those are that the tenant may assign or sublet the rental unit to another person only with the consent of the landlord. However, the landlord cannot arbitrarily or unreasonably withhold consent to a sublet or potential assignee. The tenant cannot profit off the sublet, so don’t get any ideas tenants!

Payments and Illegal Charges
Hoping to get first and last month’s rent for your rental space? Sorry landlords, this is not permitted, and is now noted on the lease. The deposit amount cannot be more than one month’s rent. Oh, and landlords, you must pay the tenant interest on the rent deposit every year.

Asking for a key deposit? Very much permitted, though it cannot exceed the actual cost of replacing said key(s), and the deposit must be returned upon receipt of keys after tenancy ends.

Asking for a damage deposit? Sorry, no go. Not even if they have pets.

The tenant cannot be forced to pay rent by post-dated cheques or automatic payments, but can choose to do so if in agreement.

Rent Increases
Rent controls are now in force. This means that landlords may increase rent once a year, based on specific guidelines, given they provide 90 days notice before the rent is to take effect. So tenants, look into those guidelines so you know what is permitted for your rental unit.

Whether relocating to Toronto Ontario, or relocating to North York Ontario, the rental process need not be daunting. I am an experienced Toronto realtor. I know the Toronto and GTA real estate and rental market, and can give you honest, educated advice on all things real estate when moving to Toronto.

So give me a call to discuss today.