What is a lease?

A lease is a legal agreement between you and a landlord when you rent housing.

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.

A lease usually states:

  • How long the lease is (usually 12 months).
  • How much the rent is.
  • If the rent will increase and when.
  • What is included in the rent (for example, utilities, parking).

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. 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.

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Last updated: August 13, 2015 4001274