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Is a mandatory standard lease template coming to Ontario?

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Is a mandatory standard lease template coming to Ontario?

Ontario’s Ministry of Housing is developing a standard lease template. We value your thoughts and opinions and invite you to help us make it useful, easy to understand and fair for both landlords and tenants.

Landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities remain the same – we want your input on what information should (or should not) be included in the template.

How to participate

Step 1: Read the discussion paper below to understand the proposed sections of the standard lease template.

Step 2: Give us your feedback by:

Standard Lease Template Consultations
Residential Tenancies Unit
Market Housing Branch
Ministry of Housing
777 Bay Street, 14th Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5

The consultation closes on October 13, 2017.

Why create a standard lease template?

Creating a standard lease template helps tenants and landlords alike, ensuring that both parties know their rights and responsibilities while reducing the number of disputes.

Some landlords have indicated that a standard lease template would make it easier for them to do business, while tenants have raised a number of concerns, including:

  • conditions that seem to unlawfully restrict their rights
  • outdated, void or illegal terms
  • highly technical language

A standard lease template will clarify the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, reduce illegal terms in leases and eliminate misunderstandings caused by verbal tenancy agreements. It may also reduce the need for lengthy Landlord and Tenant Board hearings to resolve disputes.

Background

The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants for most residential rental properties in Ontario, including:

  • single and semi-detached houses
  • condominiums
  • secondary units (e.g., basement apartments)
  • special tenancies (e.g., care homes)

It establishes the Landlord and Tenant Board as the authority to adjudicate disputes, includes basic lease requirements (like providing the landlord’s address) and has specific rules for some situations, such as:

  • if electricity is included with rent
  • when a tenancy is month-to-month
  • adding a service after a tenancy has started

Landlords and tenants can also agree to terms that are not governed by the RTA, so long as they are not prohibited by the RTA or any other law.

Leases

A lease (also called a tenancy agreement) is a legal contract between a landlord and tenant, in which the tenant agrees to pay rent to live in a rental unit provided by the landlord. It can be written or verbal and may also reference services and facilities that are included in the rent (such as utilities or parking), plus any rules tenants are required to follow.

When a lease expires, the tenancy doesn’t end – it continues under the same terms and conditions as before, because tenants and landlords have to give each other proper notice to end a tenancy.

Once the standard lease template comes into effect, existing written and verbal leases will still apply. But once a lease expires, if the parties enter into a new lease, the landlord must use the standard lease template and provide it within 21 days. The template will also apply to all new and renewing tenancies.

While the standard lease template will affect most residential tenancies, including care homes, it will not apply to social or supportive housing, mobile home parks or land lease communities (as these tenancies have unique provisions or are exempt from rent rules). The government may develop standard lease templates for these types of tenancies in the future.

Standard lease template

The standard lease template will have four sections:

A. Mandatory information
B. Additional information
C. Optional terms
D. Rights, responsibilities and prohibited conditions

A. Mandatory information

This section would include terms that cannot be altered or removed, capturing basic information that is included in every lease. The details could be negotiated between the tenant and landlord.
Refer to the law: A simple statement that the lease is subject to the Residential Tenancies Act, so landlords and tenants know which law applies.

Parties to the lease: Lists the full name of the landlord(s) and tenant(s) (i.e., everyone who is involved in the agreement).

Address/Description of rental unit: Captures the address and a brief description (optional) of the rental unit. For example:

  • Unit 123, 567 Ontario Street, London
  • Two bedroom, one bathroom apartment with patio (optional)

Landlord’s address: To facilitate delivering legal notices or documents (including the landlord’s agent’s address, if applicable).

Lease type and period: Indicates the start date and length of the lease, with an option to select a fixed term (e.g., one year), month-to-month, or other (daily, weekly, etc.).

Rent: The total rent (before any discounts) and when it is due.

This section would also outline landlord and tenant responsibilities like paying rent on time, information regarding rent increases, payment method and rent receipts.

Question 1 – Mandatory information: Is anything missing? Is there anything we should clarify?

B. Additional information

The information in this section would help landlords and tenants clarify details and reduce misunderstandings. It contains items that are subject to specific rules under the RTA.

Rent deposit: Sometimes called “last month’s rent,” many landlords ask tenants to pay a deposit equal to one month’s rent at the start of the tenancy. When the tenancy ends, the deposit is applied to their last month’s rent payment.

Rent discounts: Any discounts the landlord and tenant negotiate.

Services included in the rent: Clearly outline what is (or is not) included in the rent – for example, utilities, laundry or cable.

Landlord and tenant responsibilities: Clarify what the landlord and tenant are responsible for, such as cleanliness or timeliness of repairs.

Question 2: Additional information: Is anything missing? Is there anything we should clarify?

C. Optional terms

Landlords and tenants can agree to conditions that are not governed by the RTA, but may be governed by other laws. For example, Ontario’s Human Rights Code says everyone has the right to equal treatment in housing, without discrimination and harassment.

Question 3: What should we include in this section to clarify what landlords and tenants can and cannot legally include in a lease?

D. Rights, responsibilities and prohibited conditions

This section would include information to clarify the rights and obligations of both tenants and landlords, and help them avoid disputes. For example:

  • conduct of guests
  • ending a tenancy and proper notice
  • locks
  • maintenance and repairs
  • maximum number of occupants
  • reasonable enjoyment and its application to various issues (e.g. noise, smoking, etc.)
  • resolving disputes
  • serving notices and documents
  • subletting the unit
  • when a landlord can/can’t enter the rental unit

Question 4: What other rights and responsibilities should be included in this section?

It could also outline conditions that are unlawful and unenforceable under the RTA, such as:

  • terms ending a tenancy at the end of the lease
  • financial penalties for lease violations
  • prohibiting pets
  • unreasonable restrictions on overnight guests

Question 5: What other conditions have you seen in leases that are inconsistent with the RTA?

Question 6: What should we put in this section to discourage unenforceable conditions? (e.g. information on penalties?)