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Understanding the Basics of Your Rental Agreement

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This article is part of our ongoing series on moving to Canada and how to rent a home when you arrive in the country.  The series includes the following articles:


Understanding the Basics of Your Rental Agreement

You have been searching for the right rental home and now you have finally found one. You have made up your mind and this is the home you want to move into. What now? What should be your next step to securing that home for yourself? The answer to that question is a rental agreement. 

Once the landlord has agreed to rent out the home to you, you can’t just move in and verbally agree on rent. You and your landlord will both need to sign a rental agreement. This agreement is a legal document that contains the rules both you and your landlord will need to follow. It will also include things like the amount of rent, when the rent will be due and what services are included in the rent. 


Fixed-Term Tenancy 

If you and your landlord have agreed to a fixed-term tenancy, the rental agreement will also include when the tenancy ends and how it will continue after it ends. A fixed-term tenancy is a type of agreement that lasts for an agreed period of time. If a fixed-term tenancy lasts for one year, you, the tenant agree to rent the home for 12 months. If you need to move out before your fixed-term ends, your landlord can charge you a penalty. Likewise, your landlord can’t force you to move out before your fixed-term tenancy period ends. 

Most tenancies begin as a one-year fixed-term agreement. After one year is up, if you still want to continue renting, you can rent month-to-month.

Month-to-Month Tenancy 

This type of tenancy does not have a specific end date. A month-to-month tenancy also allows you greater flexibility related to when you can move out. You can usually convert to a month-to-month agreement after the end of your fixed-term tenancy. 


Basic Information Included in the Rental Agreement 

  • Names, addresses and contact information for the landlord and tenants
  • Length of time you agree to live in the rental unit
  • Monthly rent and the due date
  • Utilities that are included in the rent (i.e. electricity, heat, and water)
  • Charges that you must pay (i.e. parking, cable/Internet, storage)
  • Rules that the landlord asks any tenant to follow
  • Conditions that can lead to terminating the rental agreement.

After deciding the terms of your tenancy with your landlord, you will need to sign the rental agreement. Once you sign the agreement, it’s official. Both you and the landlord must follow everything that is in the rental agreement. Make sure to keep a copy of the agreement because you can refer to it if you have a dispute with your landlord.