Written By Andréa Armborst and Jane C. Helmstadter
Starting April 30, 2018, landlords and tenants entering into private residential leases must use Ontario’s new standard form of lease. The standard form is intended to simplify the rental agreement process in Ontario. It is written in easy-to-understand language and sets out the basic terms of a lease—including the amount of rent and how it can be increased, the sorts of lawful conditions a landlord can impose upon a tenancy, and some of the grounds on which the lease can be terminated by either party. The standard form contemplates an attachment for additional terms that address specific issues, as long as the terms do not contravene the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.
It also provides commentary throughout the lease as to what is or is not permitted to be done under the Act—for instance, that the deposit amount cannot be more than one month’s rent or the rent for one rental, whichever is less and the deposit cannot be used as a damage deposit.
1. Who Needs to Use the Standard Form?
- If you lease any of the following, you must use the standard form:
- single and semi-detached houses;
- condos; and
- secondary units (including basement apartments).
- The requirement to use the standard form does not apply to most social and supportive housing, retirement and nursing homes, mobile home parks and land lease communities, or commercial properties.
2. When Does Standard Form Become Mandatory?
- The lease is required for private market residential tenancies entered into on or after April 30, 2018.
- If you sign a lease on or after April 30, 2018, that does not use the standard lease, the landlord must provide the tenant with the standard lease within 21 days of the tenant’s written request for it.
- Tenants cannot ask for a standard lease if:
- they signed a lease before April 30, 2018, (unless the parties agree to negotiate a new lease agreement); or
- they sign a fixed-term lease before April 30, 2018, and it renewed automatically to a month-to-month tenancy after April 30, 2018.
3. What Are the Consequences of Not Using the Standard Form?
- If a landlord fails to provide the standard lease within 21 days after tenant’s written request, the tenant may withhold one month's rent. Alternatively, the tenant may give 60 days' notice to terminate a yearly or fixed-term tenancy early.
- If the landlord fails to provide the standard lease within 30 days after the tenant has begun withholding rent, the tenant does not have to repay the one month's rent. The tenant cannot withhold more than one month’s rent and must continue paying rent for the rest of the term of the lease, even if it never receives the standard lease.
- If the landlord provides the tenant with the standard lease after the tenant has asked for it, but the tenant does not agree to the proposed terms (for example, if a new term is added), the tenant may give the landlord 60 days' notice to terminate a yearly or fixed-term tenancy early (such notice must be given no later than 30 days after the landlord provided the standard lease).
4. Does the Standard Form Come with Explanations?
- Look to the appendix to the standard lease. It expands on each section of the lease in greater detail, providing additional information like applicable timelines under the Act and situational examples.
- A standard lease guide will be available in 23 languages by April 30, 2018.