Rent is perhaps the most important concept to understand when signing a tenancy agreement. Once you’ve signed a lease you are legally obligated to pay rent according to the terms of the contract. That may seem simple, but there are a few aspects of rent payments that must be understood.
Rent Only Covers That Which Is Agreed To
Your landlord is only obligated to provide you with services that are agreed to in the contract. Make sure that if you have been told that utilities are included, that it is stated on the contract prior to signing. Other services to keep in mind of what rent does or does not cover may include parking, cable, heat, electricity, hydro, air conditioning units, or central air. It is not necessarily a loss if any of these aspects are not included in your rent; it simply means that for access to them you will be charged an extra fee. If utilities are not included in your rent, it also gives you the opportunity to control the amount of utilities you use, potentially saving you money if you conserve.
The Rent Price Is Set in the Contract
An agreement on price between the landlord and resident is set in the contract. Ensure that the price you’ve agreed to verbally is the same price written in the rental contract.
By law in Ontario, your landlord can only increase the rent once every twelve months. The landlord must give the resident written notice of a rent increase at least 90 days before the change goes into effect. The landlord will be required to follow rent control guidelines as set out by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Each year they will set new limits based on the overall economic conditions. Any increases above this amount must be approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). It’s also important to note that new buildings, new units in existing buildings and most basement apartments are exempt from rent control.
Rent Deposits Are Common
Most, if not all, landlords or rental companies will ask for a rent deposit. This deposit can be no more than the cost of one month’s rent (or one week’s rent if rent is paid weekly.) This deposit may only be used as last month’s (or week’s) payment. If rent is raised at any point, the landlord may ask you to supplement the deposit to that amount. The landlord is also obligated to pay residents interest on their deposit every year.
Payment Method Is Also Subject to Agreement Between Tenant and Landlord
This payment method must be agreed upon by the landlord and tenant, and cannot be changed unless both parties approve the change. Though a landlord can offer to accept payment via post-dated cheques or automatic payments, they cannot require residents to pay via those methods.
Rent Receipts Only Upon Request
Landlords are only obligated to provide a rent receipt if the resident requests one, these receipts cannot be charged for. These aspects of rent are all in agreement with the Landlord and Tenant Board‘s guidelines and rules.
Ask About Move-In Specials
Some rentals come with move-in-specials which could include discounts on rent or one-month free options. But before signing, make sure you understand how this rent special is calculated. Some of these specials come with longer leases or with a set move-in date. And that $1500 apartment with one month of free rent might actually be $1645 a month. The wording matters, so be sure you get some clarity on what you are really paying each month to avoid being caught off guard with higher-than-expected rent.
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