For tenancies beginning on or after April 30, most landlords in Ontario will need to adopt the new “standard” tenancy agreement provided by the government.
Touted as easy-to-understand, the stated intent of this new lease form is to educate tenants as to their rights and prohibit landlords from incorporating lease provisions that contradict the Residential Tenancies Act.
Here are some key aspects of the new tenancy agreement:
For landlords who have no tenancy agreement or who are not sure how to go about finding a lease, this form is easily accessible and reasonably easy to follow so long as the landlord cross-references the lease provisions with the instructions provided and the Residential Tenancies Act.
Because the lease is sanctioned by the government, it likely will be enforceable in dispute resolution.
While the format is mandatory, it does allow for additional provisions to be included so the landlord’s rights also can be protected.
The lease does include an option for a smoking ban.
The tenancy agreement primarily focuses on tenants’ rights, not tenant responsibilities. It is up to the landlord to draft provisions that govern the day-to-day management of the property.
While the lease is described as simple, it is exceptionally long — 8 pages of lease provisions followed by 6 pages of explanation not counting any of the additional provisions the landlord will need to include. This can make it difficult for tenants to remember the rules, especially those buried at the very end. It is up to the landlord to educate tenants on specific rules that could result in termination of the tenancy.
The construction of the tenancy agreement is confusing. The pages are numbered 1 through 14. However, the signatures appear on page 8. The following pages are entitled “Appendix: General Information” but don’t appear to be officially incorporated, making it unclear whether this information is part of the tenancy agreement. For tenants to comply with the lease, it must be clear that they are bound by those terms. Most information that pertains to tenant responsibilities appears in this Appendix, and it is not clear that tenants will read it prior to signing the lease. Additionally, not all relevant tenant responsibilities are listed in the Appendix, so landlords still will need to add those additional provisions.
Some provisions found in traditional leases are missing. For instance, there is no restriction on the purpose of the rental or a prohibition against using the property for commercial enterprises. The form provides for multiple tenants but omits a complete explanation of joint and several liability. The only provision regarding joint and several liability appears literally in the last sentence, just above the signature lines, where tenants may not notice it. Roommates should be aware of the full extent of their rights and responsibilities before they make a mistake that could terminate the tenancy.
At the same time, the lease includes provisions that landlords may not need. For instance, there is a separate section dedicated solely to the question of whether the landlord is offering any rent discounts. If the answer is no, tenants still may argue that they are entitled to a discount for paying their rent on time.
One-size-fits-all leases seldom do. Landlords may want to consult with an attorney or local landlord association before utilizing this tenancy agreement to include the appropriate “additional provisions” along with other landlord protections. One additional provision to consider is the Notice to Tenant that the landlord will Report Rent Payments through TVS. When tenants know that late rent or property damage may be included on their consumer credit report, that provides incentive to abide by the terms of the tenancy agreement.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.