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Ontario’s Standard Form Lease - Moving Towards Simplicity
Written by Gina Putman
As of April 30, 2018, the Ontario government took measures to streamline residential tenancy arrangements by implementing a new standard lease template to be used for most private residential rental units. The obligation to use this standard form applies to all types of landlords from individuals to property management companies and encompasses all types of residential units including single and semi-detached houses, units in apartment buildings, condominium units and secondary units such as basement apartments.
The general rule is that the standard lease template must be used for all new residential lease agreements signed on or after April 30, 2018. Tenancies governed by special rules or which fall into partial exemptions under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 are exceptions to this general rule and do not require use of the standard template. Some of these exceptions are: care or retirement homes, co-operative housing, mobile home parks and land lease communities and most social and supportive housing.
The approach of the standard template is to use straightforward, easy to comprehend language to make it clear to both landlords and tenants what their rights and responsibilities are. It also helps to clarify fundamental lease terms such as the amount of rent payable and what utilities or services are included, special charges for parking or other services such as storage lockers, responsibility for maintenance and repairs, when the landlord may enter the rental unit and other special rules about the rental unit or the building.
The template requires completion of mandatory terms providing basic lease information which cannot be altered or removed from the lease agreement. In addition to the mandatory terms, the parties may choose to add additional terms in a schedule which are specific to the tenancy. Additional terms which are inconsistent with the mandatory terms or the Residential Tenancies Act are considered to be void or unenforceable. The long term hope is that this approach will: (a) reduce situations where landlords and/or tenants are forced to resort to Landlord and Tenant Board hearings to resolve lease disputes; and (b) reduce the frequency of illegal terms in leases.
All lease agreements signed on or after April 30, 2018 should employ the standard lease template. Where a lease signed on or after this date is not completed on the standard form, tenants may submit written notice to their landlord requiring delivery of the standard form lease. This requirement must be fulfilled by the landlord within twenty-one (21) calendar days of receiving the written notice. If the landlord fails to provide the standard form lease within this period, the tenant may withhold one month’s rent. If another thirty (30) calendar days elapses and the landlord still has not delivered the standard form lease, the tenant is entitled to retain the withheld rent. It is important to note that a tenant may not withhold more than one month’s rent and must continue to pay rent for the balance of their lease term, even if the standard lease is never delivered by the landlord. Tenants have certain rights to terminate their tenancy prior to the expiry of the term in circumstances where their landlord fails to deliver the standard form lease when required or if the standard form lease delivered by the landlord does not contain terms agreeable to the tenant.
Tenants cannot require the standard form lease if their lease agreement was signed before April 30, 2018 unless a new lease agreement with new terms is negotiated on or after April 30, 2018. Additionally, tenants who become month-to-month tenants after April 30, 2018 are not entitled to the standard form if their original lease was signed prior to April 30, 2018.
If you require additional information or a copy of the Standard Form of Lease, consult the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website. This website also provides a link to a guide available in multiple languages to help landlords and tenants understand and complete the standard form. Or please contact Gina Putman directly at [email protected] or 905 763 3770 x219
*The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind.
About the Author:
Gina Putman, focuses on acquisitions and dispositions of commercial real estate properties and portfolios as well as on secured lending transactions. She assists both institutional lenders and corporate borrowers.