Standard lease for Ontario landlords and tenants coming this month (April 30, 2018)

* This is a translation of “Standard lease for Ontario landlords and tenants coming this month” published in April 2018, produced in English by CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario). Japanese Social Services is wholly responsible for the accuracy of this translation, produced with permission of CLEO.

Starting April 30, 2018, most residential landlords and tenants in Ontario will have to use the government’s new standard lease.
This month’s On the Radar explains the rules about using it.

Who must use it

Most landlords and tenants will have to use the standard lease. But this does not apply to:

Landlords and tenants must use the standard lease for rental agreements that are signed on or after April 30, 2018.
The standard lease form is on the Ministry of Housing website. There’s a version that people can print out and fill in, and another version to fill in on a computer and then print.
Both the tenant and landlord must sign the lease no later than the day the tenant is supposed to move in.
And the landlord must give the tenant a copy within 21 days after the tenant signs it and gives it to the landlord.

Can the form be changed?

Landlords and tenants can only fill in blanks and checkboxes. They can’t change or cross out any parts of the standard lease form.
But they can add terms, as long as the terms don’t go against the law or anything that’s in the form. There’s more information about additional terms below.

If a landlord does not use the standard lease

If a tenant has rented a place without a standard lease, they can write to the landlord and ask them for a standard lease to sign.
The first time the tenant makes this written request, the law gives them certain rights.

Holding back rent
Once the tenant asks in writing, the landlord has 21 days to give them a standard lease to sign.
If the landlord does not do this, the tenant can hold back up to one month’s rent. They can only hold back rent payments that come due after the 21 days have passed.
The tenant must pay back this rent if the landlord gives them a standard lease to sign within 30 daysfrom when the rent was due. If the landlord does not do this within 30 days, the tenant can keep the rent.

Moving out early
There’s another right a tenant gets the first time they ask in writing for a standard lease.
If they originally agreed to a fixed term, such as a year, they don’t have to stay for the whole term. They can move out by giving 60 days’ notice as if they had a month-to-month tenancy.
Before the tenant can give this notice, the landlord has 21 days to reply to the written request.
If the landlord replies by giving them a standard lease, the tenant can choose not to sign it and can give the 60 days’ notice. They must give the notice within 30 days after the landlord gives them the lease.
If the tenant does not want to move out, they can sign the standard lease or do nothing. Doing nothing means that they stay with the agreement they made originally with the landlord.

Checking the additional terms

Tenants need to read the “Additional Terms” section carefully to understand what they’re agreeing to. The additional terms will be on separate pages, attached to the standard lease form.
There’s no limit on how many terms can be added. Some landlords might have several pages of additional terms. Tenants can suggest terms too, but the landlord has to agree to add them.
Additional terms have to be in plain language and clearly explain what someone can, can’t, or must do.
Additional terms are not valid if they go against any of the standard terms.
Terms are also not valid if they conflict with the law, for example, if they say that the tenant:

  • can’t have pets
  • can’t have roommates or guests
  • has to pay for repairs

If an additional term is not valid, it means the landlord and tenant can’t make each other follow it, even if they both signed the lease.
But sometimes it may not be clear whether a term is valid until the Landlord and Tenant Board makes a decision about it.
If a tenant is not sure what to do, they can contact a community legal clinic or talk to a lawyer.

This email alert gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation.

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