TENANCY – Frequently Asked Questions

Article Compiled By Juan Santos, MBA, ABR, AACI (Candidate)

Q:  Is a written contract necessary between a landlord and a tenant to start a tenancy?

A:  There is no requirement in the Tenancy Act for a written agreement between a landlord and a tenant.  The tenancy agreement can even be oral, but for the benefit of all parties it is highly recommendable to have it in writing to have a record of what has been agreed between the parties.


Q: Is there an agreement template or a draft form version available for Tenancy Agreement?

A: No.  There is no template or draft form available.  But it is highly recommended the parties seek legal advice or to hire a licensed real estate professional to assist you with the contract and paperwork, you will be better protected and avoid expensive mistakes.


Q: Can the landlord or the tenant place terms or clauses in the contract that are not allowed in the Tenancy Act?

A: No.  A contract which stipulate something against what is stated in the law is “null and void” and not enforzable.


Q: How large a rent deposit can it be?

A: A landlord can collect a rent deposit equivalent to one rental period, in other words, if the rental payments are monthly the deposit cannot exceed one month rent.  If the rental payments are weekly then the deposit cannot exceed one week rent.  Now, any tenant can voluntarily offer more than what the law states, especially in those cases when the tenant does not have credit history or has poor credit history.  It is not unusual in our market to find cases where the tenant offers half or even one full year deposit.


Q: In connection to the previous question, why is first and last month rent deposit usually requested?

A: This topic needs clarification.  The last month rent is the actual deposit.  The rent is always payable in advance the first day of rent, so the first month rent is usually collected at the same time of the last month deposit is collected, so it is a misinterpretation that the deposit is two month rent.


Q: Can a landlord refuse to accept a tenant with a pet?

A: Yes, the landlord may refuse to rent the unit to a tenant with a pet.  Nevertheless, a landlord cannot evict a tenant just for having a pet, even in the case where the written agreement states “pets are not allowed”.  This topic is more complex to elaborate to the extent of this article.  You can seek legal advice or you can hire a licensed real estate professional to assist you with the transaction.


Q: If a landlord or a tenant uses a licensed real estate professional for assistance, do they have to sign a representation contract?

A: Yes, according to the law all representations have to be in writing and it has to be in place at the “earliest practical opportunity”.


Q: Who is responsible for maintaining the rental unit?

A: The landlord is responsible for maintaining the rental unit.  Despite the fact that the agreement may states the tenant is responsible for maintenance of the unit, it is the landlord’s responsibility.  The tenant is only responsible for keeping the unit in a clean condition, and for repairs of damages produced by the tenant. 


Q: Can the tenant stop paying the rent if the landlord does not maintain the rental unit?

A: No, in case of non-payment of the rent by the tenant, the landlord can give notice of termination and file an application to evict the tenant.  There are other tools available for the tenant to use, but not by the holding of rent payments.


Q: Is the landlord obligated to clean and paint a rental unit prior to a new tenant moving into the rental unit?

A: No.  The landlord is not obligated under the law to clean and paint the unit, but it is obligated to maintain it in “a good state of repair and fit for habitation”.  Nevertheless, both parties may agree in writing that the unit were to be cleaned and painted, of course it should be clearly stated who will be covering the expenses and when it should be done.

Sources:  Landlord and Tenant Board.  Tenancy Act.

Feel free to contact directly the author of this compiled article at [email protected] with your comments and inquiries.


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