Today, 33% of Canadians rent their homes. This number is even larger in bigger cities, where housing prices are high.
Many rules guide the business of rental properties, including rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants. In Alberta, the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) lays out those rights and responsibilities. The Alberta Government also released the RTA Handbook, to help explain the rules and regulations laid out in the RTA, in plain language.
Laws around rentals vary between countries, and even between provinces in Canada. Before renting a space in Alberta, or purchasing an investment/rental property, it’s important to be aware of landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities.
General Responsibilities Of Tenants And Landlords
Landlords and tenants have responsibilities that aren’t always explicitly mentioned in their lease agreements. Here are the responsibilities of a tenant and a landlord:
- Pay rent in a timely fashion
- Consider the landlord and neighbouring tenants
- Not put other tenants in danger
- Not engage in illegal activities or illegal business on the rental premises
- Keep the rental relatively clean
- Prevent damage to the unit
- Leave the unit upon the agreement’s end date
- Abide by the lease agreement as long as it does not conflict with the RTA
- Make rental unit available to a tenant on the first day of their lease agreement
- Provide written “notice of landlord” to a tenant within 7 days of their moving in, or post the notice in a visible place
- Not impede on the tenant’s reasonable enjoyment of the unit
- Make the rental unit habitable throughout the tenancy. According to the Health Standards under the Public Health Act and Housing Regulation
What Should Be Included In A Rental Lease?
A tenancy agreement in Alberta either has a specific beginning and end date or is a periodic agreement (month-to-month) without a specific end date. Most agreements are in writing, though verbal agreements are also recognized by the Albertan government. Although Alberta doesn’t have a standard Residential Tenancy Agreement form for all landlords, landlords can purchase a template from either the Alberta Residential Landlord Association or the Calgary Residential Rental Association.
Here are the components of a typical tenancy agreement in Alberta:
- Parties to the agreement (landlord and tenant)
- Terms of the agreement
- Rent amount
- Utilities that tenant and landlord are responsible for
- Appliances included in the agreement
- Maintenance responsibilities
- Requirement for tenant insurance
- Terms for sublease
- Rules and regulations
Landlords might ask tenants for a security deposit, which proves a tenant’s intent to move into the unit. Sometimes security deposits are known as “damage deposits,” which landlords return to the tenant unless the tenant damages the unit.
A security deposit cannot increase with a rent increase, and cannot be higher than the amount of one month’s rent.
Landlords must keep security deposits in a trackable account – specifically, an interest-bearing trust account in a bank, credit union, or other financial institution.
Returning A Security Deposit
Tenants have a right to their security deposit upon moving out, as long as the following criteria are met:
- The tenant does not owe any rent or other cost to the landlord
- The tenant did not damage the unit beyond regular wear and tear
- The tenant ensured the unit was properly cleaned
If these conditions aren’t met, the landlord can keep part of or all of the security deposit to cover the costs listed above. Additionally, a landlord can take a tenant to court to claim more money if the security deposit doesn’t cover the costs.
Rent Increase Limits In Alberta
Unlike other provinces in Canada, there are no rent increase limits in Alberta. However, a landlord cannot increase the rent amount under a tenancy agreement until one year has passed after the last rent increase.
To increase rent for a periodic tenancy (commonly month-to-month), the landlord must inform the tenant in writing. The notice must include:
- The date of the notice
- The effective date of the rent increase
- The landlord’s signature
The amount of notice required varies depending on the tenancy type. A landlord must give 12 weeks’ notice of a rent increase for a week-to-week tenancy, 3 months’ notice for a month-to-month tenancy, and 90 days’ notice for any other periodic tenancy.
Learn more about rent control laws across Canada.
How To Terminate A Lease Early?
Both landlords and tenants can terminate a lease early under certain circumstances.
If either the tenant or landlord commits a substantial breach of the tenancy agreement, either party can provide a 14-day notice to end the tenancy. Personal circumstances can also contribute to ending a lease early.
Landlords aren’t under any obligation to end a lease early; however, if a tenant experiences a life event such as job loss, they can negotiate with the landlord to end the lease early. Perhaps the tenant can assist the landlord in finding a new tenant, to make the lease termination more reasonable for the landlord.
Repairs To The Rental Unit
When it comes to necessary repairs to the rental, whether the damage was accidental or caused by negligence, both the landlord and tenant have certain responsibilities.
How Long Does A Landlord Have To Complete a Repair?
Landlords are responsible for maintaining safety in rental units at all times, including through repairs. If a tenant requests a repair that is consistent with the Public Health Act and Housing Regulation, a landlord must complete the repair with reasonable effort.
If a landlord does not complete an eligible repair, tenants must either apply to the RTDRS or court to:
- Obtain damages
- Obtain a rent reduction
- Receive compensation for the cost of making the repair themselves
- End the tenancy
Note: Even if a landlord does not complete a repair, a tenant cannot withhold rent without consequence.
What Happens If You Damage Your Rental Unit?
If you damaged your rental unit, the landlord cannot automatically keep your damage deposit. Instead, the landlord must give the tenant a notice of termination, and/or request that the tenant cover the cost of the damages. If the tenant refuses to pay, the landlord can go to the Landlord and Tenant Board to dispute the issue.
Eviction Rules In Alberta
Landlords can evict a tenant for a few reasons. The most common reason for eviction in Alberta is a tenant’s failure to pay rent. Some other reasons for eviction include:
- Damage to the rental unit
- Endangering or disturbing other tenants
- Breaking terms in the rental agreement
Tenants have the right to dispute evictions, except in cases where the cited reason is non-payment of rent.
Do I need to do an inspection report in Alberta?
Can a landlord say no to pets in Alberta?
Can a landlord say no to overnight guests in Alberta?
Can a landlord say no to smoking in Alberta?
When can my landlord enter my apartment in Alberta?
- Inspecting state of the unit or repairs in the unit
- Pest control
- Viewings for prospective tenants in the final term of the current tenant’s tenancy, or after a tenant gives notice to end a periodic tenancy
Can I refuse to pay rent if my landlord refuses to repair something I asked for?
Being both a tenant and a landlord comes with lots of responsibilities. Although the Residential Tenancies Act lays out an extensive list of rules for each party, landlords and tenants can discuss and negotiate amongst themselves to sort out issues with the rental as well.
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