Understanding Ontario's new residential lease: Reasonable Doubt

March 12, 2018
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Starting April 30, landlords and tenants signing a new residential lease in Ontario are required to use the standard lease template. This requirement applies to new leases for most private market rentals, including, but not limited to, apartments, condos, basement apartments and houses.

A standard lease is not required for tenancies exempt or partially exempt from the Residential Tenancies Act including, but not limited to, those in social housing, care homes, mobile home parks, supportive housing, housing co-ops and where tenants share a kitchen or bathroom with their landlord.

The creation of a standard lease in Ontario has the potential to crack down on the use of illegal terms by landlords and strengthen awareness of the rights of tenants. Below is some important information tenants need to know about the new standard lease.

Can a landlord remove or alter sections from the standard lease template?

No, the standard lease template contains 14 mandatory sections that outline the basic terms of a lease between a landlord and a tenant. These 14 mandatory sections must be completed in full and cannot be removed or altered.

The standard lease template and its appendix includes helpful information about the tenant's rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act on topics ranging from security deposits to subletting, illegal charges, tenant insurance and pets. Information within the standard lease and its appendix also cannot be removed or altered from a standard lease. Tenants should ensure their landlord provides a copy of the standard lease templates' appendix.

Can a landlord include additional terms to the standard lease template?

Yes, but only with a tenant's consent. The standard lease template includes a section where landlords and tenants can include additional terms to a lease. Additional terms that are inconsistent with the mandatory sections of the standard lease and/or that conflict with the Residential Tenancies Act are not legal, and so they are void and unenforceable. Some common terms that landlords may attempt to add to a lease, but which are void and unenforceable, include:

  1. A requirement that a tenant pays a damage deposit;
  2. A ban on guests, roommates or additional occupants;
  3. A “no pets” clause.

Once a lease is signed, it can only be changed if the landlord and tenant(s) agree to these changes in writing.

Read more: Understanding Ontario's new residential lease: Reasonable Doubt