This article will be the first of 6 surrounding this subject. They are meant to highlight a few of the most frequent issues brought up in our discussions with tenants. It also focuses on the rights of tenants in a long-term residential lease where rent is paid monthly. There are other arrangements such as community housing and where a tenant is the roommate of the landlord. These are not covered here. For more comprehensive information, please refer to the Resources section at the end of this article.
These articles are not meant to construe legal advice but are an attempt to clarify common situations and ensure tenants are aware that they do have rights. The appropriate documents are discussed for reference. Where a dispute or concern arises, it is always best to consult with a legal professional.
- Good landlords and Bad landlords, Good tenants and Bad tenants
- Residential Tenancies Act (RTA)
- Ontario Standard Lease (OSL)
In our experience, the vast majority of landlords and tenants are great people with the best of intentions. However, there are also those who are the exception and there are times where something occurs and it may not be clear what the right answer should be. To that end, laws have been created to ensure the rules of engagement are clear to all. In Ontario, those laws are called the Residential Tenancies Act and are interpreted by the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB). In Canada, all residential tenancy laws are provincially controlled. There may also be municipal by-laws and regulations which augment the provincial laws. There are also interactions between these laws and condominium regulations (not covered here).
In our experience, while these laws exist to protect all involved, a very large number of landlords and tenants do not know their rights and responsibilities. It becomes particularly difficult when landlords, in particular, are ignorant of the laws which govern them as it can create distress amongst their tenants. Even landlords with the best of intentions can cause distress by not properly understanding both their and their tenants’ rights and responsibilities. We at Aliferous strongly encourage all landlords and tenants to know their rights and responsibilities.
Ontario Standard Lease
To address this lack of knowledge, the Ontario government created the Ontario Standard Lease (OSL) and all landlords of long-term rental residential accommodations are required to use it, without exception, for new tenancies starting on or after April 30, 2018. As a tenant, you can and should insist on it in writing. If the landlord does not provide this lease within certain periods of time, then there can be penalties. See also: https://landlordselfhelp.com/media/2018-Residential-Tenancy-Agreement-Standard-Form-of-Lease.pdf
The OSL is meant to create standardization of the essential elements of a tenancy agreement and it outlines the primary rights of both tenants and landlords. The landlord can also add additional terms to the agreement to further define the relationship so long as it does not contradict a statutory law including the Residential Tenancies Act. Tenants can add additional terms if required; after all this is an agreement between two responsible parties. But again, it cannot contradict statutory laws.
The OSL is periodically updated to reflect the latest legislation and both landlord and tenant should ensure the latest one is being used.
It should be noted that, in Ontario, when a lease ends it automatically goes month to month and a tenant cannot be evicted purely based on a lease ending. There is also no requirement nor need to create a new lease as the terms of the original lease apply and the tenancy simply becomes month to month.
In the next section, we will cover how rents are set, the rules around rent controls.
- The vast majority of landlords and tenants are great people with the best of intentions. Residential tenancies laws are aimed and protecting all involved and providing guidance on appropriate procedures.
- The governing laws include:
- The Ontario Residential Tenancies Act (adjudicated by the Landlord Tenant Board)
- The Ontario Human Rights code
- Municipal by-laws
- As of April 30, 2018, all leases must use the Ontario Standard Form Lease (aka OSL)
- This form is periodically updated
- A tenant has the right to request this lease and there are penalties for the landlord for not complying
Residential Tenancies Act: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/06r17
Ottawa’s property standard by-law proposal: https://documents.ottawa.ca/sites/documents/files/RAS_FinalLTR_Sept23_En.pdf