Know your rights! Five things new tenants need to know

So you’re one of the estimated 600,000 students in the province heading to college or university this fall, and you’ve found the perfect place to live.

Now comes the tricky part: signing the lease and understanding your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

We’ve compiled some of the most commonly asked questions about a tenant’s rights, and tips on how to maintain a good relationship with your landlord.

“I signed on the dotted line. We’re all done here, right?”

Well, did your landlord produce a copy of the lease you both signed within 21 days? If not, you’re not legally required to produce payment for rent until they provide these crucial documents.

But don’t make that your first move as a tenant — you know what they say, you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar, and all that. Send the landlord a gentle reminder to send along these documents ASAP.

Upon signing of the lease, landlords also need to provide their legal name and address to the tenant, as well as this brochure called Information for New Tenants.

“I paid for a key deposit and a rent deposit. Do I get this money back?”

Didn’t lose the key or access fob? You get that money back once you return them at the end of your tenancy.

As for the rent deposit, assuming you pay rent on a per-month basis, that should cover your final month in the dwelling. However, landlords are required to pay interest on rent deposits their tenants pay them.

Also note that a landlord can not ask for a damage deposit or use your rent deposit to pay for repairs. The rent deposit can only be used to pay rent, not for anything else, such as damages.

“The gas oven almost burned my eyebrows off. Who fixes and pays for this?”

Well, I know a good esthetician…oh, wait, you mean the oven.

From Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act: “A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards.”

Also falling under the landlord’s jurisdiction is snow removal and garbage collection, which you should sort out at the beginning of the lease.

“It followed me home! Can I keep it?”

Well, as long as that’s a dog and not a coyote, you should be OK.

From the Residential Tenancies Act: “A provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.”

However, the animal in question must not be classified as a dangerous animal, cause considerable damage to the property or cause severe allergy concerns.

“I need to leave before my lease is scheduled to end. How do I get out of this agreement?”

First of all, you could just ask the landlord, but keep in mind that in most cases you are required to give at least 60 days notice of your intention to leave. If the landlord says you can’t break the lease early, you will need to find someone to fill your spot — but the landlord will have to approve this new tenant.

Click here for more information on how you can end your tenancy.

For more information on issues you might be dealing with, visit Ontario’s Landlord Tenant Board website.

Source: 680 News; by JUSTIN PIERCY Posted Aug 29, 2015 3:07 pm EDT

Last Updated Aug 29, 2015 at 3:09 pm EDT

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