If you are involved in a residential tenancy as either a landlord or a tenant, knowing some of your rights and responsibilities can help you avoid disputes. If you are involved in a dispute, you should seek legal advice from a landlord tenant lawyer to protect your rights.
As of April 30, 2018, all new residential tenancies in Ontario covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (subject to some very limited exceptions) must utilize the “Standard Lease”, made available by the Ontario government. All tenancies entered into before that date, are grandfathered in and do not need to utilize the standard lease.
Why the Standard Lease was Instituted
Often, some of the biggest disputes in a tenancy are related to the landlord and the tenant having different interpretations of something included in the lease. In cases where there was vagueness, the Board in utilizing the legal doctrine of “Contra Proferentem”, would be obligated to side with the party that did not draft the lease, in most cases this meant the tenant.
Another concern that lead to the creation of the standard lease was landlords (intentionally or not) would often flood their leases with illegal clauses, such as forbidding tenants from moving in another occupant, illegal security deposits, no pet clauses, etc. By making the lease a standard form document used by all, there is less likelihood of interpretation disputes and tenants are more protected from unscrupulous practises.
What’s Included in the Standard Lease
The fillable standard lease includes obvious sections like the party’s names, rent amount and address of the unit. It also lets landlords indicate which utilities are included as well as any allotment for parking. Landlords can include a requirement for tenants’ insurance or set limits on smoking on the property. There is also the option to attach additional clauses to the lease.
Any additional clauses must conform with the Residential Tenancies Act. Landlords cannot include terms that remove their legal obligations. Any term included that is contrary to the Act is void.
What Happens the Standard Lease is not Used
There are some potential consequences for landlords if they do not use the Standard Lease. Tenants not given the standard lease can request one in writing. If within 21 days the landlord does not comply, the tenant can withhold 1 month’s rent payment, to be paid only if the landlord gives them the standard lease within 30 days (if not the tenant can keep the money). Tenants can also leave a term lease (i.e.: 1 year) early if they request and are not given a standard lease.
By understanding the rules surrounding the new Standard Lease requirement, landlords and tenants can prevent potential disputes. If you are involved in a housing dispute the best way to protect yourself is to hire a housing lawyer. Mehdi Au LLP has landlord tenant lawyers to help you with your case.
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