A rental agreement is a legal contract between you and your landlord. The agreement can be verbal, written or implied. A lease is a written rental agreement. Your rental agreement outlines the rules and conditions for living in your rental unit.
The Rental of Residential Property Act, its Regulations and the Standard Form of Rental Agreement apply, even if you do not sign a written rental agreement. The standard agreement contains conditions that both you and your landlord must follow. Your rental agreement cannot legally include conditions which are against the law.
Neither you, nor your landlord, can change the conditions of your rental agreement once you have agreed to it. You or your landlord must apply to the Director of Residential Rental Property if you would like to change a condition of your rental agreement.
Types of Rental Agreements
A fixed term rental agreement has a clear start date and end date. An example of this type of agreement is a one-year lease which allows you to live in the rental unit for 12 months. If the lease isn’t terminated or renewed after the year has passed, it converts to a month-to-month agreement with the same rules and conditions as the original rental agreement. Your landlord cannot change the terms and conditions of your rental agreement even if a new rental agreement is signed.
You cannot be evicted simply because your fixed term agreement has ended. This is true unless you and your landlord agree in the beginning that the rental agreement ends on the end date. Otherwise, your landlord must have a valid reason to evict you.
Your landlord must communicate clearly to you at the beginning of your fixed term agreement if they want you to move out on the end date. This is common in rentals that are from September to April.
If your landlord wants you to sign a new 12-month rental agreement each year they must communicate this in the beginning.
See Evictions for more information.
A month-to-month agreement does not include an end date. The agreement continues until either you give notice to your landlord that the agreement will end, or your landlord ends the rental agreement for a valid reason stated in the Act. An example of a valid reason is not paying your rent or damaging the property.
What Your Rental Agreement Should Include
If you sign a rental agreement, read it carefully. You may want to read it through more than once. If you sign, you must follow all conditions listed in the agreement. It should include the following information:
- The date when you sign the agreement
- Your name
- Your landlord’s name, address and contact information
- The address of the rental unit
- The name of your property manager, address and contact information (if your rental has a property manager)
- The date your agreement begins
- The date your agreement ends (if a fixed term agreement)
- The amount you agree to pay for rent and if it will be paid weekly or monthly
- The services and facilities your landlord will provide as part of your rent
- The services and facilities you are responsible for (for example, if you must pay for heat)
- Information about the security deposit, if one is required
- The signatures of you, your landlord, and witnesses
A security deposit is money paid by a tenant to a landlord before moving in. The landlord holds this money in trust for as long as the tenant lives in the rental unit.
Your landlord can charge you a security deposit. A security deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent if you pay rent monthly. If you have a weekly rental agreement, it cannot be more than one week’s rent.
This money will be returned to you once you leave if there are no damages or unpaid rent. Your landlord can keep your security deposit to recover any losses, such as unpaid rent, cleaning bills, or repairs.
It is unlawful for your potential landlord to request key money, a holding deposit, pet deposit, or both first and last month’s rent.
See Security Deposit for more information.