Legal Updates

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Update

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

As of April 30, 2018, landlords of residential rental property in Ontario will be obligated to use a new government-issued standard lease template (the “Standard Lease”) for all new residential leases. Requirements relating to the Standard Lease are contained in new Section 12.1 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the “RTA”) and related regulations.

The Standard Lease applies to most residential tenancies in Ontario, including leases of condominiums, single-family homes and units in apartment buildings. The Standard Lease does not apply to commercial properties, residential sub-tenancies, as well as tenancies involving student residences, retirement homes, land lease communities and other property types that are exempt from the RTA. However, the Ontario government announced that it is also working on standard form leases for some of the foregoing exempt classes of residential tenancies. There is no estimated publication date for these additional standard lease forms.

Use of the Standard Lease is required for both landlords and property management companies. The Standard Lease must be signed by the landlord and tenant prior to the date the tenant is entitled to occupy the applicable rental unit.

In addition to sections that must be completed setting out the relevant lease terms, the Standard Lease contains an appendix containing general information (the “General Information Appendix”) for landlords and renters on rights, responsibilities and unenforceable tenancy conditions. Items that are summarized in the General Information Appendix include, among others, material relating to illegal charges, pets, smoking, and rules governing the ending of a tenancy and evictions.

After April 30, 2018, renters will not be entitled to ask a landlord for a Standard Lease if: (a) the renter is subject to an existing lease signed before April 30, 2018, unless the renter and their landlord negotiate a new lease agreement with new terms; or (b) the renter signed a fixed-term lease before April 30, 2018 and the lease renewed automatically to a month-to-month tenancy after April 30, 2018.

If a landlord fails to provide the Standard Lease within 21 days after a renter has made a request in writing, the renter may: (i) withhold a maximum of one month’s rent; or (ii) give 60 days’ notice to terminate a yearly or fixed-term tenancy early. If the landlord fails to provide the Standard Lease within 30 days after the renter has begun withholding rent, the renter does not have to repay the one month’s rent that was withheld.

Prior to April 30, 2018, residential landlords should familiarize themselves with the Standard Lease including the General Information Appendix. Landlords should also consider preparing their own customized versions of the Standard Lease containing any relevant special or property-specific clauses in anticipation of tenant requests for the Standard Lease. Any additions or variations to the Standard Lease must comply with the RTA.

A copy of the Standard Lease can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (the “MAH”) website here. The MAH will also publish a guide to the Standard Lease, which will be available in 23 languages.

If you have any questions with respect to the matters discussed above, please contact Jonathan Born by email at jborn@wildlaw.ca.

This update is intended as a summary only and should not be regarded or relied upon as advice to any specific client or regarding any specific situation.