Archived — Be Informed About... Landlords and Tenants

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Home Sweet Rented Home

Landlords, tenants and your rights and responsibilities

When you rent a house or apartment, you are a tenant. You have rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

Rules for landlords and tenants are different in every province and territory. On the Internet, you can find information about the rules where you live at You can also learn about rules for landlords and tenants by calling your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office.

Before you rent

  • Decide what you want.
  • Learn what the law says.
  • Read and ask questions about the lease/rental agreement.

There are some questions that you should ask the landlord before signing a rental agreement or lease:

  • How much is the rent?
  • Do I have to pay a security deposit?
  • Does parking cost extra?
  • How long is the agreement?
  • How do I pay the rent?
  • Who can I contact if there is a problem?

Be friendly but business-like with your landlord. Both of you have rules to follow. You must pay your rent on time and treat the property with respect. Your landlord must provide you with things such as good plumbing, safe electricity, and adequate heating.

If things go wrong, there are places you can go to for advice. You can get help from a tenants' organization, a provincial or territorial housing ombudsman's office, or a legal clinic. Call your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office to find out who you should contact. If things go wrong, you can bring in a mediator. A mediator can help solve the problem between you and your landlord.

Signing a lease / rental agreement

A lease/rental agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. It can be called a lease or a rental agreement. Read it and ask questions about anything that is unclear or seems unfair. Check to make sure it has the following:

  • the rental term (yearly or month to month)
  • the monthly cost for rent and when it must be paid
  • the security deposit you must pay and how it is refunded
  • who pays for utilities and services such as water, power, heat, phone, cable TV and parking
  • who does the upkeep and repairs
  • rules about pets

Read everything in the lease/rental agreement. If there is something you don't understand, get the answers you need before you sign. Ask for a copy and keep it in a safe place.

Most landlords ask you to pay a security deposit. In some provinces/territories the deposit is half the first month's rent. In others it is a full month's rent. You must leave the place in good condition and pay your rent to get your security deposit back when you move out. If you don't, the landlord may keep some or all of your deposit. You may even receive the interest that has been earned on your security deposit while it was left with your landlord — be sure to ask.

Breaking a lease / rental agreement

If you move out before the end of your agreement, you may have to pay a penalty (extra money). Check your lease/rental agreement. It should tell you the penalty if you break it. If you have questions, call your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office. The landlord-tenant laws for your province or territory may have rules about ending the agreement.

Give your landlord a written notice if you plan to move out early. If you and your landlord make an agreement about moving out, ask your landlord to put it in writing.

Rent Increases

When you move into a place, you and your landlord will agree on how much rent you'll pay. At the end of your lease, your landlord may want to increase your rent. All provinces and territories have rules about rent increases.

Eviction — Forcing you to leave

Your landlord must have a legal reason to evict you. Your landlord can evict you for things such as not paying your rent, damaging the property or being too noisy. In most cases, your landlord must give you notice before the date that you have to leave. The amount of notice your landlord must give you depends on laws in the province or territory where you live. Your landlord may also ask you to leave when your lease ends.

Tenant's Insurance

Tenant's insurance can also be called personal property insurance. It will help pay to fix or replace your personal items stolen or damaged in an accident, such as fire or flood, in your rented home. Items that can be insured include furniture, clothing, sports equipment, electronics, etc.

Some renters don't buy insurance. They think it costs too much money. Stop for a minute and think about the total cost of everything in your rented home. If everything was destroyed in a fire, could you afford to buy new things?

If you want to learn more about being a tenant or landlord, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website at It has information about the rules in every province and territory. If you want to talk to someone, call your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office.