Understanding Housing Law
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Types of Lease Agreements:
When renting with roommates, there are two types of leases:
- Individual Lease: This means that although you may be living with other people, you are only responsible for shared common spaces & your personal room. In an individual lease, the lease is a signed document between that tenant & the landlord.
- Joint Lease: All tenants are equally held responsible for all parts of the unit, although you may have an agreement on whose rooms is whose, things such as damages regardless of who did it is the responsibility of everyone.
"So how does this affect me?" In a joint lease, everyone has their name on one document with the landlord. In an individual lease, it is your responsibility to find someone to take over your room if you leave, if not, you still pay. In a joint lease you can leave & the responsibility is on everyone.
The Standard Lease:
The standard lease is a fillable form which is available on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing website; as of April 30, 2018, all tenancy agreements should be using this form. This lease is 13 pages long and all pages should be present when signing. After the landlord has signed this lease the tenant(s) are entitled to a copy. If you signed a lease that was not using the standardize form, you may request a standard lease.
The benefits of this lease are: easy-to-understand language; less ability for hidden clauses; outlines the rights & responsibilities of both renter and landlord.
Subletting happens with a tenant moves of a rented space while still on the lease, and another individual takes over living in the unit and paying rent. A tenant may sublet a rental unit to another person, in order to do this, the tenant must have consent from the landlord. The landlord may not arbitrarily or unreasonably withhold consent.
When another individual takes over the a unit to sublet, the subletter is the responsibility of the tenant, The tenant is still liable to the landlord for any breaches of the tenancy agreement.
When Your Lease Expires:
When a standard one year lease is up, there is many options the tenant and landlord can take. A tenant can decide to move onto another unit, the landlord and tenant can sign a new rental agreement, or they can let the lease expire. When a one year lease expires, the lease does not disappear, rather it goes to a month to month lease agreement. In a month to month lease, the tenant is no longer committed to living in the unit for an extended amount of time. To end the tenancy, a tenant gives the landlord a written 60 days’ notice prior to moving out.
Residential Tenancy Act:
The Residential Tenancy Act - or RTA - is a legislation that covers both landlords & tenants in Ontario. There are many benefits & protections to having an RTA covered lease as it gives tenants many rights they otherwise would not have. However, not everyone is covered by the RTA: the Act does not apply if you share a kitchen or a bathroom with the landlord or their immediate relatives.
Landlord Tenant Board:
The Landlord Tenant Board is available for those who are covered under the RTA. It helps to resolve disputes between landlords & tenants through meditation or adjudication through a tribunal – which is like court, but more informal. It helps to provide info to landlords & tenants about their rights & responsibilities under the RTA. It is one of the eight tribunals that make up Social Justice Tribunals Ontario.
LTB Resources & Contact:
- tribunalsontario.ca/ltb: Access any forms you need in a landlord tenant agreement (besides a lease)
- 416 645 8080: Contact LTB via phone
If a landlord is going to increase the price of rent, they must give the tenants at least 90 days notice before doing so. A landlord cannot increase whatever amount they desire, they must adhere to the rent guidelines. The amount allocated to increase rent for 2020 was 2.2%; the guideline for 2021 is supposed to be 1.5%. The Ontario government has introduced the Helping Tenants and Small Business Act, which if passed would freeze rent in 2021.
Maintenance and Repairs:
Landlord Responsibilities: A landlord must obey all health & safety standards of the unit. They are unable to shut off or interfere with the supply of vital services which include heat, electricity, fuel and hot / cold water. It is the landlords responsibility to keep the rental property in a good state of repair, as well as ensure anything outlined in the lease be maintained regardless of its condition when signing.
Tenant Responsibilities: Tenants are responsible for keeping the unit clean and must repair or pay for any damaged cause by them or guests that is not normal “wear and tear.”
Landlord Entering the Rental Unit:
Very rarely can a landlord enter a rental unit without notice; these reasons include if there is an emergency in the unit, if the tenant agrees to let the landlord in, and if the lease requires the landlord to clean the unit. Other than these circumstances, the landlord is not permitted to enter the unit and this can be considered “interference with reasonable enjoyment” which should be reported to the Landlord Tenant Board.
A landlord is able to enter the rental unit with 24 hours written notice if: they are to do work in the unit, carry out an inspection, to allow a potential purchaser to view it, or any other reasonable purpose. If no times are specified, the landlord is to enter between 8am and 8pm.
Under the Residential Tenancy Act, if there is a provision in a tenancy agreement relating to the prohibition of animals in or about the residential complex in question, said provision is void. A landlord cannot deny a tenant the ability to have pets in a rental unit.