The Rental Agreement

The Rental Agreement

  • The Rental Agreement, also referred to as a ‘Lease Agreement’, is a written or verbal contract that sets out the terms and conditions of the tenancy and the obligations of both the landlord and tenant.

  • It states information about the length of time you are renting for, the rental rate, what is included in the costs, rent increases, permission to enter the unit, repairs, rules about pets and smoking, lease renewals, etc.

  • Rental agreements, whether oral or written, define the legal rights and responsibilities for both the landlord and the tenant. This is important when conflicts develop between the landlord and tenant.

  • Most rental agreements are signed for a period of 1 year (12 months). If you decide to move out earlier, you may be required to pay for the remainder of the lease, or find another individual to sublet the unit for the remaining period (with the landlord’s approval). Discuss the terms of your lease with your landlord.

What to Expect

    When you are ready to rent with a landlord, you will agree on the specific terms and conditions of your tenancy. Your rental agreement may include the following:


  • the agreed upon monthly rent with or without utilities, parking, cable;
  • when the rent is due. For example, on the first day of each month;
  • the amount and terms of the deposit, if applicable;
  • which repairs are your responsibility and your obligation to do repairs at the request of the landlord;
  • the term of a rental period, typically one-year (month-to-month or week-to-week);
  • specific restrictions, such as no boarders, pets, smoking, waterbeds;
  • when and how a landlord can enter the residential premises;
  • conditions for terminating (ending) a lease, such as providing a 60-day notice;
  • terms for late payment, damage and repairs, eviction.
    Check the Provincial and Territorial Fact Sheets for more specific information.

Is a Signed Lease Required?

  • No, this is not a requirement. However, keeping records of your agreement, letters, receipts and bills is beneficial if any issues arise between you and the landlord in the future. The advantage of a written agreement is that it outlines the terms and conditions agreed to by both parties.

Do I need a co-signer or guarantor?

  • A landlord may request for you to have a guarantor or co-signer if he/she is not certain that you have enough money to pay for rent. A guarantor or co-signer is someone who agrees to pay your rent for you in case you are not able to pay, such as friends or relatives. However, a landlord should not use these requirements in a way that is discriminatory and violates the Ontario Human Rights Code.

  • If you don’t know anyone who will agree be your guarantor or co-signer then you need to convince the landlord that you are a responsible person and that you have enough money to pay the rent every month. Read What documents do landlords ask for acceptable proof that you can show.

Rules about pets and smoking

  • Restricting pets and/or smoking are two common areas of conflict between landlords and tenants. In most provinces the landlord can refuse to rent a unit to tenants that have pets. However, evicting a tenant who has pets, varies by province. Be sure to discuss these matters with the landlord to avoid any issues.

  • In Ontario the landlord cannot evict a tenant who violates a “no pets” clause in their lease, but violations of a “no smoking” clause in the lease are not addressed by provincial legislation.

As of 2010, smoking in Canada is banned in indoor public spaces (including workplaces, restaurants, bars and casinos). In Toronto, the Municipal Code prohibits smoking within 9 meters of a public building.
You can read about other commonly-asked questions on and the CHMC website.