A lease may be written, verbal or implied (e .g . through the payment of rent) . All are equally binding and can only be terminated in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) .

This means that once you sign, you have to keep paying your rent even if:

  • Lack of maintenance on a property (Landlord does not fix something)
  • Pests (mice, ants etc...)
  • Because you changed your mind
  • Because you don't get along with your roommate
  • etc...

If there is an issue it must go through the Landlord and Tenant Board and you need to follow their process.

So here is what you need to know about signing a lease:

  • Take it seriously.
    This is a legal contract and breaking it or not paying rent could influence your future renting. Never sign anything you do not understand.
  • Always get any important agreements in writing.
    The lease must include the legal name and address of the landlord, and you are entitled to receive a copy of the lease within 21 days.
  • Be aware of the length of the rental term.
    Most landlords want students to sign a lease for 12 months because it can be difficult finding tenants for the summer months. You can sublet your rental for the summer months to cover the cost.
  • Sign once.
    Once you lease term is complete, you do not have to sign another lease. If you decide to stay you continue to pay on a month to month basis. At this point you only need to give a 60 day notice to terminate the tenancy.
  • Look for hidden costs.
    Once you sign you are obligated to pay what ever has been put into the lease. Check for what utilities are your responsibility (Heat, Hydro, Water, Water heater, Property taxes etc...)
  • What to expect in a Lease -
    • The name and address of the landlord and tenant(s);
    • The address of the rental property;
    • The agreed upon monthly rent amount, with or without utilities (be specific – Heat? Hydro? Water? Parking? Cable T .V .? Internet? Etc);
    • The term of the rental period (usually 12 or 8 months, or month-to-month) and specific dates of occupancy;
    • When the rent is due (e .g . on the first day of each month);
    • The amount and terms of the rent deposit;
    • Which repairs are your responsibility, and your obligation to do repairs at the request of the landlord (if applicable);
    • Who is responsible for snow shoveling and cutting the lawn; who will supply the tools to do so, and maintenance of such;
    • The notice period that the tenant is required to give when terminating a tenancy, such as 60 days prior to the end of the lease term;
    • Subletting rules;
    • Specific restrictions, such as no additional tenants, pets, smoking;
    • When and how a landlord can enter the rental premises;
    • Conditions for termination of a lease (by either party);
    • Terms for dispute resolution (late payment, damage and repair)