On April 30, 2018 the Government of Ontario and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing introduced a new standard lease that must be used for most private residential rental units. This lease did not change either the tenant or landlord’s obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA) but rather was intended to help all members of the public understand their rights and responsibilities, reduce the usage of illegal terms in leases, and reduce the need for Landlord and Tenant Board hearings.
Most residential tenancies in Ontario are now required to use the standard lease, including single and semi-detached houses, apartments, condos and units that are part of a house, such as a basement or an attic apartment. There are special exemptions under the RTA such as care homes, mobile parks, and social housing.
What’s In The New Standard Lease?
The body of the new lease is fairly limited and contains basic provisions such as:
- which utilities are included
- who the tenants and landlord are
- when the term begins and ends
- the amount of rent to be paid each month
All sections of the new standard lease are mandatory and cannot be removed or altered.
In keeping with its goal of reducing the use of illegal terms in residential leases, the Standard Lease includes sections that lay out both parties rights and responsibilities, including tenant’s capacity to make minor alterations to the unit by hanging pictures or blinds and the landlord’s obligation to keep the unit in an appropriate condition.
Landlords and tenants can attach an appendix containing additional terms, however, none of the terms can contradict those in the standard lease. They also cannot contradict the RTA. Terms that contradict the lease or the RTA will be unenforceable and cannot be used as a reason to terminate the tenancy.
Transitioning Non-Standard Leases Into New Standard Leases
If the tenant and landlord entered into an agreement after April 30th, 2018 the tenant is entitled to receive a copy of the standard lease. Should the landlord and tenant have originally used a non-standard lease the tenant is still entitled to request a copy of the Standard Lease. The landlord must provide a copy of the standard lease in 21 days or the tenant becomes entitled to withhold one month’s rent. The tenant is only permitted to withhold a maximum of one month’s rent, but should the landlord still not provide a copy of the standard lease within 30 days of the tenant withholding rent the tenant does not have to repay the rent upon receiving the standard lease.
Overall the new standard lease appears to strike a balance between allowing for participants to customize their terms using the appendix of additional terms, while also assisting with the Ministry’s goal of reducing the use of illegal terms.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and is not legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstance.