Monday, 26 November 2018

Ontario's Standard Form Lease

Residential landlords looking for a template lease in Ontario

Fairly often I get an inquiry from a "new" landlord who is in the process of renting out their rental unit for the first time.  In getting ready to rent out the unit they are looking for a blank lease for their tenant(s) to sign.  For many years, this request for a blank lease brought on much consternation.  While a great deal of the rental relationship between landlord and tenant is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), and further the Residential Tenancies Act makes any lease clause that is inconsistent with the RTA void (see section 4 RTA), a lease may still contain some unique clauses that are specific to the circumstances.

The "unique" requirements often led to a mish-mash of conditions and a merging of a variety of leases.  Still today you can find leases dealing with water-closets, coal chutes and stabling of horses.  The biggest problem in these leases is the inconsistency that arises through the lease.  Clauses are contradictory and the result is confusion and lack of clarity.  When this occurs, the law provides that any ambiguity is read or interpreted in favour of the party (usually the tenant) who did NOT draft the lease.   Hence, if you have a messy lease you will not be able to rely on vague terms to insist that the lease means one thing when it could reasonably bear the interpretation of meaning many other things.

The issue with confusing leases and bookstore leases (i.e. off the spinny self-help shelf) has been addressed by the government.  There is now a "standard form lease" that is required to be used in the vast majority of residential rental situations.   That lease can be found at this LINK which is the website for the Ontario Central Forms Repository.

This standard form lease became available and is required to be used in most private residential tenancy agreements entered on or after April 30, 2018.  The failure to use this form has potential negative consequences for landlords.  As you work your way through the form you will find spaces to include special clauses and specific rules for the rental unit.  Including unique clauses in this standard form does not make an otherwise illegal clause valid.  Anything "unique" that you want to include still needs to be consistent with the RTA.  

For the "new" landlord who is looking for a reasonable lease that is consistent with Ontario Law the standard form lease covers the bases.  It, through the formatting process will call your attention to some of the things that landlords may want to include in a lease that they technically do not have to address (ex. smoking).  As time goes on, a landlord may discover that there are certain rules and requirements in relation to the property that in future versions of the lease they can add.

Michael K. E. Thiele
www.ottawalawyers.com

6 comments:

  1. Hey Michael just came across this great blog post in search of answers regarding the Standard Lease Form as it relates to a predicament I am in.

    If a Tenancy Agreement (Not Standard Lease Form) was signed After Apr 30,2018 (Signed Sept 2018) that contained clauses which were inconsistent with the RTA, ex (No Sublet Allowed and Tenant(s) and Landlord agree that an accepted Agreement to Lease shall form a completed lease and no other lease will be signed between the parties) is the Lease Agreement void?

    If 3 parties enter into this Lease Agreement and 2 Parties request the STANDARD Lease Form and the Landlord refused to switch to the Standard Lease based on their “no other lease will be signed” clause. Can the 2 parties submit Form N9 (Notice to End Tenancy)?

    If the 3rd person was given this N9 Form with 60 days notice and decides to continue with the original fixed term Lease Agreement. Are the 2 parties still liable for Rent/Utilities until the end of the 1 year fixed term.

    Would appreciate any input regarding this matter thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: Thank you for aiming to be concise in your questions. Without background, I will answer what I think you are getting at. You may wish to consider retaining a lawyer or paralegal and have the meeting to go over all of your facts for a fulsome answer to your questions. My comments here are limited to what I understand the question to be.

      1. A tenancy agreement is not "void" for failing to use the proper lease. See section 12.1(11) Residential Tenancies Act.

      2. If the tenants request a standard form lease and the landlord fails to provide one (after 21 days) then the tenants may indeed terminate the lease. The details of how this is done is set out in section 47.0.1 Residential Tenancies Act.

      3. This is a messy question and, I think, unique to date. My guess as to how this plays out (one lease, three signatories as tenants, two want out, one does not), is that the lease is terminated with the N9 regardless of the fact that only two sign. These tenants then move out on the notice required leaving the third behind. The landlord then needs to bring an application to evict the now unauthorized occupant failing which (after 60 days) the unauthorized occupant becomes the tenant through a deemed assignment of the lease that was terminated. Arguably, the remaining tenant could approach the landlord to sign a new lease or make a deal and if the same terms are offered then take it.

      Note that the answer to the 3rd question is just what I think it should be. There are contrary opinions and as far as a know there is no definitive and binding appellate authority on what legal outcome these specific facts lead to.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  2. This blog very informative.

    Question regarding a rental property where the owner is sharing the kitchen and bathrooms with multiple student (univeristy aged) tenants.

    Must the owner sign the standard lease agreement with each tenant? Or can the owner write up a contract outlining the terms that both parties agree to??

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: If the owner is sharing the kitchen and/or bath with the "tenants" then the rental unit is not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act. The exemption that applies is in section 5(i). of the Residential Tenancies Act. Accordingly, the standard lease agreement is not required. Your tenants are not RTA covered tenants. They are better described as roommates or lodgers. You can write up a contract as you wish.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  3. I live in an apt were another tenant threatened my life,in front of two other people and admitted it to the police and is still allowed to live next door to me what are the T/L laws pertaining to this

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: In a landlord and tenant context only, your landlord can serve the tenant who threatened you with a Notice of Termination. How the threat is characterized informs what kind of Notice of Termination will be served. The typical choices are N6, N7, or N5. Each of these forms allege either, substantial interference with reasonable enjoyment, impaired safety or illegal act. Which form a landlord chooses to serve depends on a number of factors including what the landlord thinks they can prove.

      Whether the tenant who threatened you is served with a Notice of Termination depends on the landlord deciding to do so. Typically, a landlord would receive a complaint and then investigate. The landlord's investigation might result in the landlord deciding to not serve a Notice of Termination, or perhaps serve a voidable Notice of Termination, or perhaps decide to proceed full speed and try to get an eviction. The landlord has to consider a number of factors in determining whether to seek eviction, including whether there is sufficient evidence, whether he believes he can win, whether he thinks there are circumstances warranting giving the tenant another chance, whether he believes your complaint. The Residential Tenancies Act requires the landlord to exercise judgment about all of these factors in deciding what to do.

      I know you were likely hoping for something more definitive but the law is more nuanced that you might like. To give it the best chance for the landlord to actually take action make sure to clearly complain to the landlord, provide the necessary evidence, and be willing to attend a hearing to testify.

      Good luck
      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Any answers provided are intended to reflect the Law of Ontario, Canada. The answers are not legal advice and no one should rely on the answers provided as legal advice. The answers are intended to be general information about Ontario Law and are the personal view of the author based on the limited facts provided to the author. The answers may not be legally accurate and may indeed be contrary to the law of Ontario. Answers and conclusions drawn may have been different if facts had been shared that have not been disclosed in the comment/question. This blog is intended to assist people in learning about Ontario Landlord and Tenant Law. However, if you have actual legal problems this blog should under no circumstances replace proper legal advice obtained by retaining a lawyer or licensed paralegal to advise you. Nothing in this blog, comments submitted or answers provided, gives rise to a solicitor and client relationship. Comments are published as submitted and commenters should be aware that if they identify themselves in a comment that their identity will become public upon the comment being published. Comments that have been published may be deleted upon request to the author.

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