Rental agreements

3. Before moving in

Rent

The Residential Tenancies Act doesn’t say how much a rental unit should cost, but it does make rules about how often the rent can be increased. Rent can only go up once a year; for example it can go up every January. It’s important to keep track of when the rent on the unit was last increased.

As a tenant, you should ask the landlord if there are any plans to increase the rent, and when the last rent increase was. The rent can go up even if you haven't lived in the unit for a year. As a landlord it is a good idea to inform new tenants if and when you plan to increase the rent (s.47).

Utilities do not have to be included in the rent. At the beginning of the tenancy the landlord may ask the tenant to pay them for utilities, or to pay the supplier directly. As a tenant, you should always ask what is included in the rent before entering into an agreement.

Even if they are not included in the rent, the landlord can’t interfere with the supply of heat, fuel, electricity, gas, hot and cold water, or any other public utility (s.33). Any person who provides a vital service to the rental complex for you has to let the rental officer know if that service will no longer be provided (s.33(4)).

Pets

Some landlords allow their tenants to have pets, while others may not, or they may restrict the type or number of pets allowed, or require that the tenant ask them before deciding to get a pet. Additional rights and obligations, including those about pets, should be set out in writing in the tenancy agreement.

If a tenant allows a pet into the building, he or she can be held responsible for any damage or disturbance the animal causes, even if it is not the tenant’s pet. For example, if a tenant’s visitor brings a pet to the building, the tenant will need to pay for any damage the pet causes.

Deposits

The landlord can ask for a security deposit that is up to one month’s rent. The tenant can pay half when the tenancy begins and half within three months. In the case of a weekly tenancy, the security deposit is due in full when the tenancy starts. (s.14(2))

If pets are allowed in the unit, the landlord can charge a pet deposit that is up to half of one month’s rent. The landlord can only charge one pet deposit, even if the tenant has more than one pet. The landlord can't charge a deposit for a service animal.

If the rental unit is subsidized public housing, the security and pet deposits can be calculated based on the market rent, and not the rent actually paid (s.14).

Inspections

The landlord has to do an inspection before the tenancy starts, and has to make reasonable efforts to let the tenant participate in the inspection. If the landlord agrees to allow a pet after the tenant moves in, and didn’t do an inspection at the beginning of the tenancy, an inspection must be done at that time.
The landlord has to complete and sign an entry inspection report. The tenant must be allowed to include comments on the report and sign it. It is a good idea to do the inspection together. Approved forms are available online or at the rental office.

When the tenant moves out, the landlord has to do another inspection. Again, it is a good idea to do this inspection together. For tenancy agreements on or after September 1, 2010, the landlord can only make a claim against the security deposit to pay for damage if both inspections were done with written, signed reports and copies were provided to the tenant.
The landlord must keep all entry and exit inspection reports for at least three years after the tenant moves out, and must give copies of the reports to the rental officer if asked. (s.15 and 17.1)

When you need to contact each other

The landlord has to give contact information to the tenant. This includes the landlord’s name, address and telephone number. Sometimes the landlord uses an agent who helps with the work, like a property manager. In these cases, the landlord also has to give the agent’s contact information to the tenant. (s.36)

Landlords and tenants sometimes have to give information to each other. The most common issues that require formal notice are applications to the rental officer, rent increases, ending the tenancy agreement, and requests for permission to assign or sublet the unit.

You can give formal notice to the other person in several ways:

  • By personally giving it to him or her
  • By registered mail
  • By fax (if provided)
  • By e-mail (if both people agree) (s.71, Regulations : Tenancy Agreement, para. 11)

In some situations involving disputes, there is a deadline for providing certain information. The rental officer can extend this time if he or she thinks it would not be unfair to do so (s.71(8)).

A complete alphabetical listing of the consolidated territorial Acts and associated regulations.
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