The government of Ontario just announced a new mandatory, easy-to-understand standard lease for private residential leases in an effort to improve tenant protection.
The standard lease applies to single and semi-detached homes, apartments, rental condo units, and secondary units such as basements. The form must be used for all private leases as of April 30, 2018.
“Renters told us that their leases were often confusing and contained illegal terms,” says Peter Milczyn, Minister of Housing and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy. “Landlords, especially smaller ones, say a standard template makes it easier for them to do business. The new form we developed helps balance the interests and responsibilities of both parties.”
The standard lease covers all the basics, including names and addresses, total rent and due dates, rules about the unit and/or building, the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant, and even explains what can and cannot be included in the lease. The days of seeing “no pets” or “no guests” on your lease are gone.
This new regulation is part of the Fair Housing Plan that was introduced in April 2017. According to the province, there are 1.25 million private rentals in Ontario with an estimated turnover rate of 19,000 a month.
“We appreciate the Ontario government’s work to develop a standard lease,” says Geordie Dent, Executive Director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations. “The standard lease will help protect tenants by providing clarity around their rights. It is easy to understand and will eliminate much of the confusion we have seen in the past around residential tenancies.”
There’s been a lot of controversy around the Fair Housing Plan and rent control, but we think that the standard lease is a good thing.
It’s difficult enough to find the right rental in areas like downtown Toronto where prices are high and competition is fierce – we’re sure tenants won’t miss having to deal with a huge document full of legal terms they don’t understand.
With low inventory and high demand, it’s common for rental units to be snatched up in a single day. We wouldn’t be surprised if many tenants simply sign on the dotted line without having a real estate agent or lawyer review the document.
Speaking of real estate agents, does the standard lease eliminate the need for them when it comes to rentals?
There are two main reasons for using an agent; to help you search for a place and review your agreements. If there’s a mandatory standard lease in place, there’s seemingly no need to have an agent review it.
If you’re expanding your rental search beyond Craigslist and Kijiji, then an agent is the answer because they have access to the MLS system.
If you’re planning on renting, you should review the standard lease and ensure any landlord you end up renting from is using the lease!