How Does Rent Work in Canada? A Provincial Comparison

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renting in canada, security deposit, rent increase, end tenancy, notice

Renting in Canada

Finding and securing a rental in Canada’s biggest cities is always a challenge. And if you are moving from one province to another, it can be even more confusing as the laws governing residential tenancy vary from province to province and even from year to year as civic and provincial governments change.

So how does rent work in Canada? Below we provide a provincial comparison of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec regarding the following rental issues:

  • Rental Deposits
  • 2020 Rent Increases
  • Payment rules
  • Lease Renewals

It is important to familiarize yourself with the pertinent rules and conditions governing rentals. This will protect you from unscrupulous landlords who may be tempted to take advantage of a naïve or ill-informed tenant or newcomer to Canada.   Before you submit a tenancy application anywhere in Canada, arm yourself with the facts; a basic understanding of residential tenancy laws and guidelines is your super power.  You will be better positioned to negotiate your lease terms effectively.

Rental Deposits

BC – Security Deposit can be collected.
– No more than ½ month’s rent.
– A landlord may also request a pet damage deposit at the start of a tenancy or during a tenancy if a tenant gets a pet with the landlord’s permission. The deposit must not exceed ½ of one month’s rent, regardless.
AB – Landlord can request a security deposit.
– Amount can vary but not more than 1 month’s rent.
– There are no laws defining whether or not landlords can charge special pet deposits, but the total deposit required by landlords cannot exceed one month’s rent so any pet deposit should be included in the total amount, with specific conditions indicating how much will be used to cover pet damage.
ON -Landlord can request a rent deposit.
– It can’t be used as damage deposit.
– It must not exceed one month’s rent.
– Landlords can not ask for a pet deposit but can accept one if offered by tenant.
QC – Landlords are not permitted to collect a deposit of any kind (including pet deposits).

Rent Increases

BC – 2.2% for 2020
– Increases are only allowed once in a 12 month period.
– 3 months notice of rent increase must be provided
AB – There is no limit on how much a landlord can increase the rent
– Increases can only happen once a year and only after tenant has lived in a space for 12 months.
– 3 months notice of rent increase must be provided for monthly leases, 90 days for periodic leases (monthly).
– The notice of increase in rent must indicate the date on which the increase is to be effective and must be dated and signed by the landlord.
ON – 2.2% for 2020
– Increase only allowed once in 12 month period
– Landlord must provide tenant with a 90-day written notice of rent increase.
QC – Quebec’s Rental Board provides rent increase guidelines annually.
– There is no limit on the amount the landlord can increase the rent but the tenant must agree that the increase is reasonable.
– Tenants have the right to refuse an increase and must notify the landlord within one month of receiving the lease modification notification.

Payment Rules

BC – Cash, cheque, money order, e-transfer.
– Landlord can request post-dated cheques for the duration of the lease term (i.e. 12 month’s worth for a year lease)
AB – Cash, cheque, money order, e-transfer
– Landlord can request post-dated cheques for the duration of the lease term (i.e. 12 month’s worth for a year lease)
ON – Cash, cheque, money order, e-transfer.
– Landlord cannot require tenant provide post- dated cheques or permit automatic debiting of the tenant’s account
QC – Cash, cheque, money order, e-transfer.
– Landlord is not permitted to collect any amount of money from a tenant that exceeds 1 month’s rent.  

Lease Renewals

BC – If there is no discussion, the lease will automatically renew on a month to month basis even if previous lease was a one-year fixed term lease
– Landlord cannot force tenant to sign another year lease nor can they kick them out without proper notice (2 months in regular circumstance or 4 months for the purpose of renovation or major repairs).
AB – Landlord assumes you will move out at the end of the lease so does not have to provide the tenant with any kind of written termination notice.
– Tenants should check their lease to see if they are required to provide notice if they plan to move out.
– At least one month before the lease ends, landlord should discuss whether the tenant wants to stay. If yes, a new lease needs to be signedbetween the landlord and tenant.
– The landlord does not have to agree to a new lease in which case tenant  must move out by the original lease end date.
ON – If there is no discussion, the lease will automatically renew on a month to month basis even if previous lease was a one-year fixed term lease
– Landlord cannot force tenant to sign another year lease nor can they kick them out without proper notice (2 months in regular circumstance or 4 months for the purpose of renovation or major repairs).
QC – If tenant does not provide landlord with 1 month notice before end of lease term, the lease will be renewed automatically following the exact terms and conditions of previous lease.
– For example, with a one year lease, a tenant who fails to notify landlord will have to sign another one year lease. This differs from other provinces where tenancy arrangement continues on a month to month basis regardless of previous agreement terms.

Helpful Links:

BC Renting in BC
Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre
Residential Tenancy Act
AB Alberta.ca
Alberta RTA Handbook and Reference Guide
ON RentingOntario
A Guide to Residential Tenancy Act
QC Quebec’s Rental Board
Tenants and Landlords: A Guide to Rental Housing

As you can see, renting rules vary from province to province. Take advantage of all the information available to you and embark on your rental journey armed with the facts and your rights.


Did you find this post helpful? If so, you might like some of our other posts:

Landlord Guide: How to End Or Extend a Lease

Residential Tenancy Agreement Explained

How Much Can my Landlord Increase my Rent

Deposit Debrief : Your Questions on Security Deposits Answered

Renter Guide: How to Renegotiate a Lease

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