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What Is Rental Contract/Agreement and Its Requirements

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Rental contract requirements protect both Landlords and Tenants from being scammed.

Fraud is the ultimate result of avoidance of warning signs and the same theory applies to Rental fraud too! Thus, it becomes necessary to heed the following warning signals, to thwart potential rental fraud.  

  • Observe if the monthly rent is extremely less than the current market rate.
  • If you are asked to make a deposit without any formal rental agreement or are asked to make an international payment. 
  • The rental unit is offered without any background check.
  • Ads showing only external photos of the property or perhaps the ad displays stock images.

Besides, reacting to these odd observations, an ‘iron clad’ rental agreement is the most prominent to ensure that you will be a tenant of a legitimate apartment rental.  

What is a Rental Agreement?

A rental agreement or landlord and tenant contract is a legal document that is agreed to and signed by both parties of a tenancy, prior to a landlord providing keys to a tenant and entered into before a tenant moves into the rental property. 

If the term of the rental period is predetermined to be greater than a year or two, then both the landlord and tenant will likely join into a Residential Lease Agreement. 

The rental agreement clearly states the roles and responsibilities of each party ( landlord and tenants) involved in the process. Thus, the rental agreement reduces the chances of fraud and scams in apartment rentals, especially for basement apartments. Individual room rentals or shared accommodation rentals may have separate contracts to rent. It is essential for landlords and tenants to sign and date the rental agreement.

Ideally, the process is initiated by a landlord, but even if the landlord fails to prepare and issue a rental agreement, standard provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act and related regulations will still apply to the tenancy. 

A standard or ‘commonly’ used rental agreement will usually contain these initial basic clauses: 

  • Duration of the time period of the rental
  • Amount or cost of rent
  • State amount of first and last month’s rent, as well as the cost of security deposit.
  • Specify the address and location of the rental, within the house or building
  • List amenities and/or utilities included in the cost of the rental

What Details or Terms Should a Rental Agreement Include?

Standard rental contracts are meant to protect the interests of both landlords and the tenants, equally.  Therefore, a legitimate rental agreement should include all relevant details about the following elements, to be sure that its provisions are clear and concise. 

  • Basic Information: The contract shall clearly provide complete details for both tenants and the landlords, along with a thorough description of the property. These details include full names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for correspondence.
  • A landlord may request copies of identification documents, such as a Driver’s License, and may ask for a Social Insurance Number, or a credit report.  
  • Tenancy Type and Rental Arrangement:  There should be a clear indication of whether the tenancy will be for a fixed term or if it will renew periodically.  If the tenancy will automatically renew, then it is important to determine whether or not the rent will remain constant, or increase a set rate, within the legal allowance for rental increase.
  • Rent Details: The rental process begins with payment of the first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, and a signed rental agreement. The rental agreement should specify any costs, in addition to the monthly rent, such as a shared portion of the utilities and any other fees to be paid by the tenant. 
  • Permissions and Prohibitions: The rental agreement must provide full and complete disclosure of all permitted and prohibited items, possessions, and behaviors or restrictions thereto; such as smoking, pets, improvements, or variations to the rental unit. A set amount or schedule of costs for damages or for violations of the foregoing terms should be clearly stated in the rental agreement, along with any expected damage deposit and penalty charges. 
  • Single or Shared Occupancy: Single or shared occupancy for the apartment rental and costs and provisions for the same should be clearly stated in the rental agreement.
  • Details of Amenities and/or Utilities:  The rental agreement should highlight specific details, regarding the basic amenities and facilities covered, such as; safety insurance,  contents insurance, and cost for;  heat / hydro, electricity, water, and additional cost for parking. It should also list provisions for:  guests, subletting terms other particulars. 
  • Safety and Security Particulars: In the case of basement apartments important components include: good working condition of the entrance door and access to it and through it, good functioning; windows, ceiling height and length and width, exit door (s), and fire safety tools, such as; fire extinguisher (recently tested and certified to be in good working order), functioning smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors are crucial for the safety of tenants. Proper vents over the stove and a fire alarm are major pluses to ensure safety for tenants and landlords, alike. 
  1. Air Quality Concerns and Comfort.     
  2. Airconditioning
  3. Humidifiers
  4. HEPA filters
  5. Exhaust fans
  6. Central vacuum
  7. Electrical outlets and wattage
  8. Ceiling fans                         

Can a Rental Agreement be Cancelled?

A rental agreement or rental contract usually has provisions for invalidation or cancellation. In some cases, violations of certain terms will automatically result in the immediate nullification of the rental contract. If either a landlord or tenant acts in ways that threaten the safety and security of other residents of the house where the basement apartment is situated, then the rental agreement would likely be voided. 

Regardless of the violation, either party may bring a complaint, in the prescribed form to the apartment regulatory authority, usually being the Landlord and Tenant Board to void the rental agreement or to terminate the lease for the cause.

Final Words 

Rental agreements are the initial in a tenancy. As a result, it has become the legal requirement for legitimate apartment rentals, in Canada. The parties to the agreement, being the landlord and tenant, may choose to dissolve the rental agreement, even without submitting a formal complaint to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Prior to renting out your property, like a basement apartment, or becoming a renter of the same, be sure to do thorough research on this area of housing rentals. You can gain great insight into rental options, terms, and suggestions for finding a quality apartment rental, at

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