What is a lease?

A lease is a legal agreement between you and a landlord when you rent a home, an apartment, a room in a house or any form of residence.

A lease can be in writing or it can be a spoken (verbal) agreement. A lease may also be called a tenancy agreement or a rental contract.

Ontario has a Standard Form of Lease for residential properties. The standard form of lease lists things like:

  • Names and contact information of the tenant and the landlord.
  • How long the lease is (usually 12 months, but can be for short time if specified).
  • How much the rent is and what time of the month you will make the payment.
  • If the rent will increase and when.
  • What is included in the rent  (for example utilities, parking, or storage space).

Anything in your lease that conflicts with the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) is not valid.

The landlord may also ask you to sign an agreement to follow house rules. These rules cannot violate your legal rights as a tenant.

When you sign a lease, you are responsible for paying the rent during the period of the lease. You also have other responsibilities, read "What are my responsibilities as a tenant?" for more information.

At the end of the lease period, you can either renew the lease or rent on a month-to-month basis. Read "When do I have to tell my landlord that I am moving out?" for more information.

Read the lease carefully

Do not agree to anything that you do not understand or cannot do. 

Download a PDF of the Standard Form of Lease  to make sure your landlord is using the same form for your rental agreement.

If you are having trouble understanding the lease, ask the landlord if you can take it away and bring it back later. That way you can have a friend or community worker help you complete the form. To find help in your area, go to Services Near Me.

All landlords must use the standard from of lease agreement. You can read the standard lease guide in 23 different languages. 

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Last updated: May 4, 2018 4001274