During a tenancy: rights and responsibilities of tenants

Tenants have certain rights and responsibilities during a tenancy (lease). You need to pay rent on time and keep the rental unit clean. You have the right to let someone else sublet your unit or take over the lease. You also have the right to the utilities included in the rent.

During a tenancy, a tenant has certain rights and responsibilities. These guidelines include information on paying rent, rent increases, changing the lease, subletting and letting someone else take over the lease.

Pay rent

You have to pay your rent on time. Landlords can charge 1% of the monthly rent per month for any late rent.

You can’t withhold rent to encourage the landlord to make repairs or to take other action.

If you’re having trouble making your rent, you should talk to your landlord as soon as you know there's a problem. The landlord may be willing to work with you to make an arrangement to make sure you don’t go into arrears.

Once the rent is 15 days late, the landlord can give you Notice to Quit. If you don’t pay the rent within 15 days of receiving the notice, you have to move out by the date on the notice.

If you pay the rent before the 15 days are over, the Notice to Quit will be set aside and your lease will continue as it did before. You may wish to talk with your landlord to reassure them that you will continue to pay your rent.

If the landlord gives you notice to quit and you believe you’ve paid the rent, you can dispute the notice.

Rent increases

Landlords can only increase the rent once in a 12-month period, on the anniversary date of the tenancy (lease).

Landlords need to give you notice of a rent increase in writing. It needs to state the amount of the increase and the date the rent will go up.

A landlord needs to give you:

  • 4 months’ notice for year-to-year leases
  • 4 months’ notice for month-to-month leases
  • 8 weeks’ notice for week-to-week leases

For fixed-term leases, the landlord needs to include the amounts and dates of all rent in the lease when it is signed.

The landlord can increase the rent by any amount. If you don’t agree with the rent increase, you can give the landlord notice to quit before the time limits depending on the type of lease.

If the landlord plans to discontinue a service or privilege, it’s considered a rent increase and the landlord needs to give the same notice as for a rent increase.

There are different rules for manufactured (mobile) homes in land-lease communities (mobile parks) and public housing.

In public housing, if a landlord increases the percentage of income charged as rent, it is considered a rent increase. The landlord needs to give 4 months’ notice before the anniversary date of the tenancy.

If your income increases or decreases, your rent will also increase or decrease. This is not considered a rent increase.

Change the terms of the lease

You can choose to change a year-to-year lease to a month-to-month lease once you’re living in the unit. To change the type of lease, you need to give the landlord notice to quit 3 months before the anniversary date. You need to include a written request to start a month-to-month lease when the year-to-year lease has ended.

The landlord then has 30 days to respond to your request. If the landlord does not answer within the 30 days, the lease will automatically go month-to-month.

If the lease is a fixed-term lease, you can only change the terms if the landlord agrees to do so. You should get this agreement in writing.

Sublet or have someone take over the lease

If you are planning to leave for a period of time and then return, you can choose to sublet the unit to someone else. A landlord needs a good reason not to let you sublet. The landlord can charge $75 to evaluate a subletter.

If you don’t want to continue with the lease, you can ask the landlord for permission to assign any months remaining on the lease to a new person. The new person is then responsible for the lease and paying rent until the lease ends.

Your landlord needs to give you permission to sublet the unit or have someone else take over the lease, but your landlord has the right to refuse a prospective tenant from subletting or having a lease assigned to them (for example, if the prospective tenant has no references or a bad credit rating).

Rules

A landlord can make rules for a rental property. Rules need to be reasonable and apply equally to all tenants. Rules can’t remove obligations of either the landlord or tenant under the Residential Tenancies Act or Standard Form of Lease.

The landlord should give you a copy of the rules before you sign the lease. If you aren’t given a copy, you should ask the landlord if there are any additional rules before you sign.

If you wish to have a pet, you should check the rules for the premises to make sure that pets are allowed. If your landlord allows pets, you should get it in writing. A landlord can’t charge an additional deposit for pets. The security deposit can be no more than half of 1 month's rent.

Maintenance

You need to keep the rental unit and all the appliances clean. You are responsible for any repairs that need to be made due to neglect or damage done by you or any guests you allow into the premises. You aren’t allowed to interfere with the landlord's or other tenants' ability to safely occupy the premises.

Heat and utilities

Landlords aren’t allowed to turn off the heat to a unit, even if you owe rent or there is a dispute. If you are responsible for heating your unit, you need to keep it warm enough to prevent damage. The temperature on the premises should be 20C° to 22C°. Landlords aren’t allowed to disconnect other utilities like electricity, water or cable that are included in the lease.

Locks

Locks can only be changed if both you and landlord agree. The landlord is allowed to have a key to your unit.

Insurance

You are responsible for insuring your personal belongings. Landlords can ask for a copy of the policy as a condition of the lease.

Landlord access

Landlords can only enter rental units if:

  • there is an emergency
  • the landlord has given written notice that they will be entering the unit and the entry is during daylight hours
  • the tenant or landlord has given a Notice to Quit and entry is made during daylight hours to show the unit to prospective tenants or purchasers

A notice to enter should state the time and date the landlord plans to enter the unit and be signed by the landlord or representative.

If a landlord is trying to sell or rent the unit, a real estate agent needs to be allowed to enter. The agent may be required to provide proof of authorization from the owner. The agent can only enter during daylight hours. If no Notice to Quit has been given, the landlord needs to give you 24 hours’ notice. A landlord or agent can only hold an "Open House" with the consent of the tenant.