While many similarities exist from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, each province and territory has its own legislation regarding rental agreements. To learn more about your rights and duties as a tenant, check out the governing body responsible for landlord-tenant affairs in your province or territory, for example the Landlord and Tenant Board in Ontario or the Régie du logement in Quebec.
Generally speaking, this is what you can expect:
- When you meet with a landlord to view a rental property, the landlord will often ask you to fill out a standard form rental application. The document usually includes the property address, availability date, amount of rent charged, permission to do a credit check, etc. If accepted, the parties enter into a legally binding agreement to rent—so be careful, a rental application is a legal document. If you fill out several rental applications, you may get in trouble because each landlord will assume you’re committing to a rental lease!
- A verbal rental agreement should be followed by a written agreement called “rental agreement” or “lease agreement.” In some provinces (e.g. in Ontario), a standardized agreement is required. Typically, a rental agreement includes the names of the landlord and tenant(s); the address of the rental property; the agreed upon monthly rent (with or without utilities, parking, cable); when the rent is due; the amount and terms of the deposit, if applicable; the term of the rental period; the notice period required when terminating a tenancy, such as 60 days’ notice to terminate; and the amount of the security or damage deposits, if applicable.
- Read this legal document carefully. The landlord may ask you to pay first and last month’s rent, last month’s rent being collected as a security deposit.
Some landlords conduct extensive background checks and may ask for your SIN (Social Insurance Number) to run a credit check. There is no law preventing landlords from asking for your SIN, but it’s usually not recommended to share this information and you can decline.
When signing the lease agreement, the landlord may ask for:
- Certified cheques for first and last month’s rent. A certified cheque is legal tender supplied by a bank, with a guarantee that the sender has the funds in the account. You will need a Canadian bank account to pay the rent;
- Postdated cheques, i.e. cheques dated for the day rent is due for the remainder of the tenancy agreement;
- A copy of your passport and work permit (not a common request);
- A credit check;
- A letter of employment mentioning your job title, salary and the type of contract (i.e. short-term, permanent, etc.).
The only legally binding documents are the lease agreement, the application form or a written proof of a verbal agreement with the landlord. If you have any issues during the tenancy, contact the relevant provincial or territorial governing authority responsible for landlord-tenant affairs (useful links below!).