Renters Rights and Leases

Posted: September 19, 2012 in Buyers, General Information
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As the new school year begins students and landlords across the Waterloo region are signing leases. There are lots of clauses put into them, but just because something is written into a lease, doesn’t make it legal. What are renters’ rights? Some of these rights include the right to live in a safe, habitable place; the right to not  be discriminated against and the right to privacy. You have the right to rent an apartment or home and have it free of electrical problems, water problems and so forth. Of course it’s always best to take out renters insurance in case of fire or theft of your personal belongings. In the event a mishap does occur and you’re not at fault then you are not responsible for the structure of the dwelling.

The most that a landlord can ask from a tenant is the first and last month’s rent. Anything more than two months is illegal. If you were asked for more and have moved in go directly to the Landlord and Tenant Board and ask for anything that was paid extra. The landlord does not have the right to evict you for doing so. Security deposits against damages are also illegal. The last month’s rent can only be applied to that effect and the tenant cannot be made to pay the first $100 of any repair bill. Some landlord will give tenants a discount for paying the rent on time which is a good incentive. A tenant cannot be forced to give postdated cheques. The agreement to do so has to be mutual between the landlord and tenant.

When it comes to pets the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) does not cover individuals before they become tenants, so if a landlord refused to rent on the basis of pets, a tenant could not apply under the RTA for this reason. If a no pets and no smoking clause are written into a lease the landlord cannot evict a tenant for the violation of a “no pets” clause and the RTA does not address smoking. However, a landlord may have grounds to apply to evict a tenant either for having a pet or for smoking, if the pet or smoke damages the property or bothers other tenants. Note that even though the RTA does not have a clause for smoking that if it is written in the lease agreement and that the landlord can prove that it is damaging or affecting either other tenants or building that he might be able to evict the tenant on that basis. Smoking pot, on the other hand, is an illegal act which can get you evicted for that reason.

 If you are in a condominium where the declaration says no pets, any tenant is permitted to bring a pet into the unit. It doesn’t matter if the lease says that they can’t. To be able to evict a tenant for having a pet the landlords would have to prove that the pet is bothering other tenants or damaging the unit. Dangerous pets could be reasons for eviction. In a court case ruling the tenant was evicted for having a pet snake. A tenant was not evicted however with a pit bull terrier, even though other tenants at the hearing said they were afraid of it.

When it comes to cutting grass or shovelling snow the law states that this is the landlord’s responsibility. A separate agreement could be written for the landlord to pay the tenant $50 a month for example to do this maintenance.

Your lease could also include a clause in regards to loud noise after 9 p.m. and would still need to be proven that it was bothersome to other tenants in order to evict for this reason.

The best policy when signing a lease is to follow it in the first place and you will have less aggravation later.

If you’re tired of renting and paying someone elses mortgage call me.

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