Osgoode Properties wants every tenant from Kingston to Calgary to understand their apartment lease. A lease is a legally-binding contract (usually for one year, but sometimes longer) that outlines the responsibilities of both the property owner and tenant. It usually contains information about important dates, contact information, rental price and what is expected of you and the property manager.

Are heat, water and power included like at The Pinnacle Apartments in Edmonton? Does the property guarantee access to certain amenities like a pool and sauna the way Merivale Manor in Ottawa does? Will you have a parking space like at Le Faubourg de L’ile in Gatineau? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself when reading the lease.

There are a few other basic things about a lease that are important to know.

Advance Notices

You and the landlord are required to give advance notices of any changes to the lease. If you or the landlord wish to terminate the lease before the term is up (including subletting), both of you must give 60 days notice in advance. This leaves time to make the proper arrangements. In the event a landlord decides to raise the rental price (see below), they must give you a notice at least 90 days in advance.

Rent Increases

Landlords have the legal right to raise rent to compensate for inflation. But they can do this only at certain times and by a certain percentage. At least twelve months must pass before a landlord can raise the rent by 0.8 percent, according to Ontario’s 2014 guidelines. Not all landlords do this, but if they do, it’s their legal right to do so.

Ending Your Lease Early

Sometimes job opportunities or personal matters arise forcing you to change cities or neighbourhoods. Carefully read the lease to understand the terms of ending your tenancy early. Some leases outline that subletting-having a tenant replace you for the remainder of the lease-is not allowed. Other leases do allow for subletting, but you must find an appropriate tenant that should be approved by the landlord. Always make sure to give your landlord advance notice.

Osgoode Properties is always there to help new tenants understand their leases. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask your onsite property manager before signing to discuss anything you don’t understand. Contact Service Ontario to order your own copy of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.