There are many things a first time landlord needs to know, whether you are thinking about purchasing rental property, have a basement suite, or are choosing to rent out your old home that is not selling in today’s market. Although there is much to understand about a landlord’s rights and responsibilities, a few legal aspects of the landlord/tenant relationship you may not have considered will be discussed.

Identifying a Suitable Tenant

A landlord can ask a potential tenant for character and financial references.

A landlord cannot engage in discriminatory practices, either intentionally or unintentionally, when determining who might be a suitable tenant. Such practices include one or more of the following areas:

  • ancestry or place of origin;
  • race or perceived race;
  • nationality;
  • religion or creed;
  • disability;
  • sex or sexual orientation;
  • age (over 18);
  • family status, marital status; and/or
  • receiving social assistance.

The Rental Agreement

Whether written or oral, the standard terms and conditions of The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006[1] will apply to a tenancy agreement.[2] As the tenancy agreement cannot contradict or contract out of those standard terms and conditions a landlord should thoroughly review the Act, and Regulations[3] to the Act to ensure they understand their rights and obligations.

The law does not require a written rental or tenancy agreement, except in circumstances where the tenancy is for a fixed term of three months or longer. Even if a written agreement is not required it is a good practice to create a written document to avoid future confusion or disagreement. As the law treats fixed term and month to month tenancy agreements differently, such as with rental increases, it is critical to determine the type of tenancy agreement most suitable to your situation.

In circumstances where a written tenancy agreement is required, the Act requires such agreement contain certain information[4] and that the landlord give the tenant a signed copy of the tenancy agreement within 20 days of the tenant signing it.[5]

If the landlord wishes to restrict any of the following rights of a tenant such restrictions must be within a written agreement:

  • pets in the leased premises;
  • extra fee for pets;
  • smoking in the premises;
  • the maximum number of tenants;
  • subletting of the leased premises; and/or
  • NSF cheques or late rent payments.

A landlord can also impose reasonable rules within the tenancy agreement with respect to the tenants use, occupancy, and maintenance of the property.[6]  These rules must also be provided in writing.

Collecting a Security Deposit

A landlord is entitled to collect a security deposit in an amount equal to one months’ rent.[7] Where a tenant receives Social Assistance the security deposit can take the form of a guarantee letter from Social Services.

Although the landlord must request the deposit at the beginning of the tenancy they can only require up to 50% of the deposit to be paid at the time the rental agreement is entered in to. The tenant has two months to pay the landlord the remainder of the security deposit.

When a tenant moves out the landlord is required to provide the tenant with notice that they intend to retain all, or part, of the security deposit. If no notice is provided the landlord is required to return the deposit within seven days of learning the tenant has moved out.

Increasing Rent

The landlord’s right to increase rent differs for fixed term and month to month tenancies.[8]  For fixed term tenants the increase must be in accordance with what has been agreed to in the tenancy agreement.

For month to month tenancies, generally, a tenant must be given at least 12 months’ notice of a proposed increase in rent and such increase must not take effect until the tenant has resided in the suite for at least 18 months. These restrictions are somewhat relaxed for landlords in certain situations.

Entering the Rental Suite

A landlord is only allowed to enter the rental unit under certain circumstances.[9] Usually, the landlord must have the tenant’s permission or provide the tenant with at least 24 hours’ notice.

Requirement to Repair

The landlord is required to maintain the rental unit and keep it in a state of good repair.[10] A tenant can bring a claim against the landlord through the Office of Residential Tenancies requesting compensation for having lived in a suite with an uncorrected issue (e.g. no heat, leaky drains).  

The landlord can be liable to the tenant even if the landlord is unaware of any damage or maintenance issues that arise during the course of a tenancy.   It is therefore important to ensure your suite is well maintained and that any issues are addressed in a timely fashion.

Tenants Right to Quiet Enjoyment

The tenant is entitled to reasonable privacy, freedom from disturbances, and exclusive use of the rental suite.[11]  A landlord cannot restrict the tenant’s access to the property or their possessions unless they have an order from the Office of Residential Tenancies permitting them to do so.

A landlord can be held responsible where another tenant, or an individual allowed on the premises by the landlord or another tenant, unreasonably disturbs the tenant.

Termination of a Tenancy

As with other aspects of a landlord/tenant relationship there are numerous factors to consider when it comes time to terminate or conclude a tenancy. The Act should be consulted to ensure the proper procedure is followed under each specific situation.[12]

Disagreements between Landlord and Tenant

Both the landlord and tenant have the right to file a claim with the Office of Residential Tenancies in the event of a dispute.[13] Under the Act, the non-compliant party can be ordered to compensate the other for any damages or loss suffered.

Please note the forgoing is a summary of certain aspects of The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, and is not intended to be a definitive or complete summary of a landlord’s or tenant’s rights under the Act. If you have questions or require assistance with a residential tenancy issue feel free to contact Rochelle Blocka for assistance. 

[1]The Residential Tenancies Act can be found online at:

[2] The standard terms and conditions do not apply to situations where business and living accommodations are located in the same space and rented together. This includes a rural area where the tenant is renting an acreage and farming the land.

[3]The Residential Tenancies Regulations can be found online at:

[4] Section 19(1) of the Act outlines the requirements for a tenancy agreement.

[5] Section 19(3) provides that where an oral agreement is entered into the landlord is required to provide the tenant with their address and telephone number within 20 days.

Section 19(5) provides that if the tenant is not provided the required information under 19(1) or 19(3) within 20 days the tenant is not obligated to pay rent until they receive such information.

[6] Section 22.1 of the Act outlines the landlord’s right to impose rules.

[7] Sections 24 to 34 of the Act outline rights and obligations in relation to security deposits.

[8] Sections 53.1 and 54 of the Act outline the proper conditions for rent increases.

[9] Section 45 of the Act outlines the landlord’s right to enter the rental unit.

[10] Section 49 of the Act outlines the landlords and tenants obligations to maintain and repair.

[11] Section 44 of the Act outlines the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment.

[12] Part V of the Act discusses ending a tenancy.

[13] Parts VI and VII of the Act should be referenced in the event of a dispute. 

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