Ontario’s new residential lease form

Starting April 20, 2018 landlords of most residential rental units (single detached homes, semis, townhouses, apartments in duplexes, triplexes, etc., condo apartments) must use a new residential lease form for all new leases. Relationship between landlords and tenants is still governed by the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act. Then what was the purpose of the new lease?

We know that many different forms of tenancy agreements were used Ontario. Some of them were confusing and inconsistent. Some had illegal clauses and complicated provisions. The new lease attempts to remove confusion and replace it with easy-to-understand language. It will also help landlords and tenants understand better their rights and responsibilities.

If to look at this new form, we can see that the lease itself is just 6 pages (out of total 13 ones). The rest is so called Appendix, where the government explains to tenants what doings of landlords are legal or illegal. Some landlords will be surprised that they cannot collect any damage or other deposits except a rent deposit that can be applied only to the last month of rent. Another thing is postdate cheques. We can ask tenants to provide them, but we cannot put it as a requirement.

It would be a good idea together with the new lease use the Rental Application filled and signed by a tenant. First of all it gives a landlord right to obtain a privacy information for a tenant. Without this consent we cannot do a credit check or contact tenant’s referrals. Another form that I would advise to use is Agreement to Lease (or OREA form 400). This form is very handy to use for negotiating purposes. Once the offer to lease accepted, the landlord should use the new standard form of the lease.

The new lease is available both in English and French, and the Government of Ontario is even creating a guide to the new lease which will be available in 23 languages. According to the Ministry of Housing it will minimize attempts of taking advantage of unsophisticated tenants in a rental market.