Are you a landlord with new or existing tenants? Are you planning to rent, or do you already rent, residential property in Ontario? If you haven’t already, you should look into the new 13-page lease agreement, which was made the legal standard in Ontario earlier this year. Landlords who have entered the market since April 30, 2018 are obligated to use it, and it now applies to all new tenancies. But how does this new agreement affect landlords and their tenants? Let’s find out.
Clearer Terms to Eliminate Misinterpretation
Many lease agreements are based on old-fashioned templates downloaded from the web, full of legal jargon that’s difficult to decipher without sufficient knowledge. This is because, until April 30, 2018, there was no standardized lease put in place for the province of Ontario. The new contract is written so that everyone — regardless of experience or education — can more clearly understand it. There’s an emphasis on fewer confusing, misleading (and illegal) terms, resulting in a much lower possibility of misunderstandings or misinterpreting the lease’s content. Simplified, easy-to-understand language and terminology is what protects both sides most efficiently, with the landlord and tenant having a clear understanding of who’s responsible for what.
Protecting Landlords Against Wrongful Disputes and Blame
The newly standardized lease outlines what the landlord can and cannot include in the contract. A template is provided to collect information such as names, addresses, total rent and when it’s due, and rules or terms to do with the unit and/or building. This way, tenants cannot argue the current rent rate if both parties agree to it and sign, protecting the landlord from fluctuating income and providing better financial security. Landlords are also safeguarded from disputes stemming from parking spots (which are clearly indicated in the lease) and other similar aspects of their respective rental units, as this information is made clear in the contract. Extra clauses can be added to the back of the agreement as a supplementary document if the landlord needs to establish further rules — it’s the tenant’s responsibility to read everything carefully before signing.
Better Safeguarding of Tenant Rights
The new form is designed to protect tenants from landlords who include lease clauses that may actually be against the law. It’s the mandatory standard for new private residential tenancies in single and semi-detached houses, apartment buildings, rented condos, and secondary units such as basement apartments. If the landlord doesn’t provide the new form for tenancies beginning on or after April 30, renters can request it. If it’s not provided within 21 days, renters are allowed to withhold rent for a month. If the new lease is not provided within another 30 days after the renter does not need to repay that one month of rent. In addition, clauses that don’t allow pets, require post-dated cheques, or suggest that the landlord can give a tenant notice to leave at any time cannot be included.
The new standardized lease will protect tenants from such situations as well as surprise rent increases that aren’t mutually agreed upon. If you’re still under an existing contract, however, it is still valid if consistent with the Residential Tenancies Act. Be sure to read it over to ensure that there are no illegal elements.
Clarity, fairness, and a standardized rental market will benefit both tenants and landlords. The new Ontario rental lease agreement is designed to ensure a considerate and non-biased environment that respects both sides equally. Regardless of whether you’re a landlord or tenant, this is good news.
If you’re looking to secure the services of an experienced property management firm to help introduce this new standard, contact us at Sleepwell Property Management. With our knowledge, experience, and exceptional client service, you and your tenants are in good hands.