Helping to understand Ontario's Standard Lease

So you've found the dream apartment, rental house or condominium and now it's time to finalize the deal.  So who prepares the paperwork and what does it look like?

In Ontario, the government requires a landlord to use a “standard lease” for most residential tenancy agreements, one that can be found here:

So what do you need to know about the contract?  Here is an explanation to help figure out the Ontario standard lease before you sign on the dotted line.

What is Ontario's standard lease agreement?

The standard lease is a contract between landlord and tenant.

This contract is used by landlords of residential rental units to create an agreement between them and their new renter.

*Please note Ontario recently updated their standard lease in December 2020. Any agreements signed on March 1st 2021, or after have to use this new version.

In the order that you find them, here are the 17 sections of the residential tenancy agreement in Ontario and what they mean:

1. Parties To The Agreement

This section has the names of the landlord(s) and tenant(s) who are agreeing to the tenancy.

2.  Rental Unit

This is a description of the residential unit including its address and whether it's part of a condominium or not. The number of parking spaces if any and their location is also described in this section.

3.  Contact Information

This section has the landlord's email, phone number and address where notices must be sent. If a tenant needs to give a formal notice to the landlord, it should be delivered to this address.

This is an important section to make note of since it provides a way for the tenant to contact the landlord in case of emergency or to give formal notice.

4. Term Of Tenancy Agreement

This section states the type of tenancy and the start date. The options are fixed-term, month-to-month, or another specified type like daily or weekly.

5. Rent

This section states the rent portion of the agreement showing the full amount tenants will pay.

Also, details on how and when tenants will pay rent are finalized here. Typically, most leases will say that rent will be paid monthly and on the first day of each month, but the options are left open.

6. Services And Utilities

In this section, responsibility for paying major expenses (Hydro, heating, water, etc) are outlined.  

There's lots of flexibility in this section and parties can come up with more arrangements and include them in the document here.

7. Rent Discounts

Details of any discounts offered by the landlord are outlined here. For example, if there is a provision for the first month being free.

8. Rent Deposits

In this section, the landlord and tenant agree whether a rent deposit is required, and the amount. The law limits the amount and how it is to be treated. A rent deposit cannot be used as a damage deposit.

9. Key Deposits

In this section, the landlord and tenant agree whether a key deposit is required, and the amount. The law limits the amount and how it is to be treated.

Note: this is refundable and can't legally be more than the cost of replacing the key.

10. Smoking Rules

Under provincial law, smoking is not allowed in any indoor common areas of the building outside of the rental unit. In this section, a landlord and tenant can agree to rules about smoking in the rental unit.

If there are special rules about smoking, then they have to follow the provincial laws. Also note that the lease doesn't make a distinction between cannabis or tobacco smoke.

11. Tenant Insurance

In this section, a landlord and tenant can agree whether the tenant must have liability insurance. Tenant insurance isn't mandatory in Ontario, but landlords can require tenants to have insurance in this section of the lease. It is up to the tenant to get contents insurance if they want it.

12. Changes To The Rental Unit

In this section, there is nothing to fill out. It simply explains that the tenant can install decorative items, such as pictures or window coverings, but that they must have the landlord's permission to make other changes to the rental unit.

13. Maintenance And Repairs

This section explains that the landlord must maintain the rental unit and property, but the tenant must repair or pay for any undue damage caused by the tenant or their guests.

14. Assignment And Subletting

This section explains that the tenant needs the landlord's permission to assign or sublet the unit to someone else, and that the landlord cannot arbitrarily or unreasonably withhold consent.

15. Additional Terms

The landlord and tenant can agree to additional terms that are specific to the tenancy. If agreed to, these additional rules or terms must be attached to the lease agreement.

16. Changes To This Agreement

This section explains that any changes to the agreement must be agreed to in writing. There is nothing to fill out here.

17. Signatures

Everyone named in section one, meaning all landlords and tenants in the agreement, must sign the document.

This indicates that they're agreeing to the terms laid out. Also, if both parties agree to it, this document can also be signed electronically. The landlord must give a copy of the agreement to the tenant within 21 days after the tenant signs it.