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Canada: Better protection for renters in Ontario

4 May 2018 at 19:15 | 1626 views

Ontario is increasing protections for renters with an easy-to-understand standard lease for new private residential leases, now in effect across the province.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was at Charles Hastings Co-Op Housing Inc. May 1 with Peter Milczyn, Minister of Housing and Han Dong, MPP for Trinity-Spadina, to explain how the government’s new standard lease will help both tenants and landlords understand their rights and responsibilities and avoid disputes.

For new leases signed on or after April 30, most landlords are required to use the standard lease, which provides a template to gather basic information such as names and addresses, the total rent and when it is due, and any rules or terms about the rental unit or building. This includes tenancies in single and semi-detached houses, apartment buildings, rented condominiums and secondary units, such as basement apartments.

The standard lease reduces the use of illegal terms and potential misunderstandings caused by verbal tenancy agreements, which will make it easier for landlords to conduct their business and for tenants to understand their rights and responsibilities. It also has simple-to-understand general information on the rights and responsibilities of renting in Ontario.

If a landlord does not use the standard lease for tenancies that are entered into on or after April 30, 2018, renters can ask for one. If the landlord doesn’t provide it within 21 days, the tenant can withhold one month’s rent.

A guide to the standard lease is available in 23 languages including English and French. This will help ensure that more people understand their rights and what they are agreeing to when they sign a new lease.

The standard lease is part of Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan, which includes 16 comprehensive measures to make housing more affordable for homebuyers and renters, while bringing stability to the real estate market and protecting the investment of homeowners. The Plan also includes an expansion of rent control protections for tenants in Ontario.

Expanded rent control means that as of April 20, 2017, approximately 1.3 million residential rental households are now protected from sudden, unexpected rent increases — including all private market rental units whether they are in apartment buildings, rented condominiums or homes. In 2018, those increases are capped at 1.8 per cent and future increases cannot exceed 2.5 per cent unless the landlord has approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Strengthening tenant protections while ensuring predictability for landlords is part of the government’s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free preschool child care from ages 2.5 to kindergarten.

Quick Facts
The standard lease guide is available in 23 languages: Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

In the 2016 Census, 3.7 million people in Ontario — nearly 28 per cent of the province — reported a first language other than English or French.
The Fair Housing Plan also expanded rent control to all private rental units, including those built after 1991, strengthening protections for tenants against sudden, dramatic rent increases.

The standard lease does not apply to most social and supportive housing, co-operative housing, retirement and nursing homes, mobile home parks and land lease communities, and commercial properties.

Approximately 1.3 million private residential rental units are now covered by rent control thanks to the Fair Housing Plan. That means the approximately 1 in 5 people in Ontario who live in a private market rental unit are protected by rent control.

Source: Office of the Premier

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