The Ontario Residential Tenancy Agreement or Standard Form Lease has undergone some amendments and the updated new form must be used beginning March 1, 2021. The amendments were needed to reflect changes made by Bill 184 – Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020 and Bill 204- Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act, 2020.
The Standard Form Lease applies to most residential tenancies in Ontario, including single and semi-detached houses, apartment buildings, condominiums and secondary units (i.e. basement apartments). It is very important for landlords to make sure they use this mandatory document and not rely on other forms (i.e. their own hand-written agreement or realtor forms).
The use of the Standard Lease Form has been a requirement for most residential tenancies since April 30, 2018. There are a range of consequences if the landlord fails to use the prescribed form:
- If landlords do not use the Standard Form of Lease when entering into a written tenancy agreement on or after April 30, 2018, they will have 21 days to provide one to the tenant after the tenant makes a written request.
- If the landlord does not provide the tenant with a Standard Form of Lease within 21 days after the written request was made, the tenant is allowed to withhold one month’s rent, or give the landlord a 60 days’ notice to end their tenancy early.
- After the tenant withholds rent, the landlord has 30 days to provide the tenant with the Standard Form of Lease. If the landlord does not do this, the tenant does not have to repay that month’s rent. Note: the tenant is only allowed to withhold one month’s rent, and is expected to continue paying their rent for the rest of their tenancy.
- If the landlord provides the tenant with a Standard Lease Form within 21 days of the written request, but the tenant does not agree with the terms, the tenant can give the landlord 60 days’ notice to end their tenancy early. However, this notice cannot be given later than 30 days after the landlord provided a copy of the standard lease. The end date, or termination date, on the notice must be the end of a rental period.
- If a monthly or fixed-term tenancy agreement was signed before April 30, 2018, and it renews to a month-to-month tenancy after April 30, 2018, the tenant cannot ask for a Standard Form of Lease unless both parties agree and new terms are negotiated on or after April 30, 2018.
During the three month transition period from December 2020 to February 2021, the new form can be used for written tenancy agreements entered into on or after December 3, 2020. However, the use of the form will become mandatory as of March 1, 2021.
Some of the updates include:
- Technical improvements
- Changes that reflect the recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act
- The option for electronic signatures
- Additional information to assist both landlords and tenants
The new version of the form can be found on the Ministry of Affairs and Housing website at http://www.forms.ssb.gov.on.ca/mbs/ssb/forms/ssbforms.nsf/FormDetail?OpenForm&ACT=RDR&TAB=PROFILE&SRCH=&ENV=WWE&TIT=2229E&NO=047-2229E.
Multi-language guides are also available and provide information about the Standard Form Lease and include examples of legal and illegal clauses which may be used in the additional terms section, https://www.ontario.ca/page/guide-ontarios-standard-lease.
Many landlords also use an addendum to include additional clauses or specify agreements and undertakings not included in the Standard Form Lease. An addendum template is available in the members’ area, https://landlordselfhelp.com/media/members-only/Standard-Lease-Additional-Terms-2018-10-30.pdf .