Despite the heavy lifting involved, moving into a new rental dwelling can be exciting and good for the soul. However, it’s very important to learn the specific rental rules that apply to your province or territory before you make the commitment. This is especially true if it’s your first time renting or if you’re moving to Canada from another country.
According to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) of 2000, here are some of the main rights and responsibilities of a tenant in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Rights And Responsibilities Of A Tenant In Newfoundland and Labrador
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Residential Tenancy branch of the provincial government is in charge of judging and resolving disputes between tenants and landlords. They also establish the legal obligations that both of these parties have toward one another. Some of the primary responsibilities of a tenant in NF are to:
- Pay Rent As Agreed – Tenant-landlord disputes most commonly occur when a tenant doesn’t pay rent on time. In NF, a landlord can charge a penalty of $5.00 for the first day of late rent and an additional $2.00 per day after that, to a maximum of $75.00 for a tenant account that’s in “arrears” (overdue).
- Follow Your Landlord’s Instructions – Your rental contract should give you a clear breakdown of any rules or regulations concerning the property. Forbidden activities like smoking or owning pets without permission could get you evicted.
- Keep Their Unit Clean – Tenant-landlord disputes also happen when tenants are irresponsible with their rental, which can lead to damages, complaints from others and extra work for the landlord or cleaning staff once they’re gone.
- Take Responsibility For Serious Damages – If a renter or one of their guests causes serious damage to a rental property, it becomes the tenant’s responsibility to deal with any related repairs.
- Avoid Disturbing Other Tenants – Getting in altercations with neighbours, blasting music or having noisy parties after the landlord’s designated quiet-hours is another easy way to get in trouble as a tenant.
What Should Be Included In A Rental Agreement In Newfoundland
Landlords have obligations toward tenants as well. One of their primary responsibilities is to create a rental agreement that meets government code. While a standard agreement can be written, implied, or oral, they must give the tenant an official written form that includes these details (in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act):
- Correct contact information of the tenant and landlord
- Legal names
- Electronic and civic address of the rental unit
- Date that the tenant and landlord entered the rental agreement
- Start date of the tenancy
- Statutory conditions as listed in Section 10 of the RTA
- Type of Rental Agreement (weekly, monthly, fixed-term)
- Start and end date of a fixed-term tenancy
- Amount of rent payable during the landlord’s specified period
- Due date of the rent during that specified period (week, month)
- Amount and date of tenant’s security deposit paid (if any)
- Landlord’s other conditions or terms, such as furnishings, services, equipment or facilities listed in the rental agreement
- Telephone number and electronic address of the tenant where the landlord can deliver, serve or receive documents
- Telephone number, electronic address and civic address of the landlord where the tenant can deliver, serve or receive documents (Section 7(7)(a))
- Telephone number, electronic address and civic address of the landlord’s agent where the tenant can deliver, serve or receive documents (Section 7(7)(b))
Other Terms & Conditions Of Rental Agreement
Remember, your landlord is allowed to set the terms and conditions of their rental agreement, as long as the Residential Tenancies department deems them acceptable and they don’t break any federal, provincial or municipal laws. This could include:
- Zero tolerance for smoking (tobacco/cannabis) or vaping
- Zero tolerance for owning pets or cultivating plants
- Tenants must purchase tenant insurance and/or cover their own utilities
- Landlords must manage yard care and/or cover the cost of internet
- Washer and dryer included with the price of rent
- Property must have parking for 2 vehicles
- Tenants and landlords must notify each of extended absences
- Other insurance requirements
Do You Have To Provide A Security Deposit In Newfoundland and Labrador?
Also referred to as a damage deposit, a security deposit is a specific sum of money that a landlord may require as part of their rental agreement. The deposit is collected at the start of the tenancy (before the move-in date), along with the rent.
The size of the deposit depends on the length of the rental term. For instance, a landlord can’t charge more than:
- 2 weeks rent for weekly rentals
- 75% of the tenant’s first month of rent (or the amount payable in rent for the first two weeks) for monthly tenancies or fixed terms of 6 – 12 months.
Once the tenancy ends, the tenant should receive their deposit back within 15 days but if the landlord holds them accountable for damages or other broken rules, they could apply with Service NL to claim all or part of the deposit.
What Happens During A Dispute Over A Security Deposit?
If you or your landlord feels they have a right to part or all of the security deposit, the easiest solution may be to form a written agreement for a fair distribution of it.
However, if a dispute is the only option, both parties can apply to the Director of Residential Tenancies to argue their ownership of the deposit. If necessary, the parties can also apply with Residential Tenancies to arrange a hearing. Once both cases are made, the Director of Residential Tenancies will decide how the funds are disbursed.
During the process, a simple (non-compounded) interest rate will be added to the deposit. The landlord is responsible for paying this interest after the tenant has moved out. Interest rates are determined by the Residential Tenancies Section each December.
Can a landlord forbid you from having overnight guests? Find out here.
How Much Can A Landlord Increase Your Rent By In NF?
Landlords must give tenants at least 3 months’ notice for month-to-month rentals and 2 weeks for week-to-week rentals before raising the rent. They can’t increase the rent:
- During a fixed-term lease agreement
- More than once per 12-month period
- During the first 12 months of a monthly or weekly rental
Rent Increase Exceptions
If it’s in the rental agreement, a landlord can increase the rent after adding a service, privilege, accommodation or another benefit to the property/unit. Stopping one of those benefits could be considered a rent increase too. For instance, a landlord can “increase” the rent by requiring the tenant to pay their own utilities.
Can You Terminate A Lease Early In Newfoundland and Labrador?
When a term tenancy (which can last up to 12 months) is ending, a tenant must give their landlord at least 2 months’ written notice prior to terminating their lease. If the tenant doesn’t renew their lease or give their landlord notice, the term tenancy is typically converted to a month-by-month rental.
For weekly tenancies, the required minimum notice is 1 month for tenants. To qualify as valid and binding, you must submit your lease termination notice in writing. Notice periods can vary by a few days or weeks depending on the circumstances of the termination. Some landlords will accept changes with valid reasons and others won’t.
Learn more about rent control laws across Canada.
Sublets & Assignments
According to the Residential Tenancies Act, a tenant may be able to sublet or assign their unit to another renter after getting their landlord’s written approval. In this situation, a landlord cannot withhold approval without reason or charge the current tenant a fee that outweighs the cost of giving permission (i.e. creating legal documents).
- Sublet – If a tenant is travelling or gone for another reason, the landlord may allow another renter (or sub-tenant) to take over their tenancy and rent payments for a predetermined period. Afterward, the sub-tenant will follow the conditions of the landlord’s original agreement, with no contractual relationship.
- Assignment – A lease can also be transferred from one tenant to another, which often happens when the renter moves out ahead of schedule during a fixed-term tenancy. Following written approval, a new tenant is assigned to the rental under the same conditions as the previous tenant’s agreement.
Tenant Termination Notice & Causes
In Newfoundland, tenants can terminate their lease under these conditions:
- Material Breach Of Rental Agreement – Landlords won’t always respect the conditions of their rental agreement. For instance, not including a particular furnishing, appliance or service that was promised before you moved in.
- Premises Uninhabitable – A rental might be deemed uninhabitable for several reasons, like a landlord disconnecting the utilities, your unit getting flooded, or the premises not meeting government standards.
- Interference With Peaceful Enjoyment – Respect and privacy issues can also lead to termination for cause. For example, if a landlord enters your unit without permission or reasonable notice (emergencies are one of the only exceptions).
|Reason Given By the Tenant||Termination For Cause Notice Requirement|
|Material Breach of Rental Agreement||At least 1 month before the end of the lease term (if the landlord doesn’t resolve the issue within an acceptable time)|
|Interference With Peaceful Enjoyment||No less than 5 days and no more than 14 days before the lease ends|
When Can A Landlord Evict You In Newfoundland and Labrador?
Many of the same rental termination rules apply to the landlord. However, there are other reasons a landlord can evict you ahead of your lease termination date:
- Non-Payment Of Rent – If your rent or utilities payment is late by more than 5 days, a landlord can issue a notice of termination and order to vacate the premises after 10 days or more, unless you pay up in a reasonable time.
- Material Breach Of Rental Agreement – A landlord can also evict you for not honouring your lease agreement. Common reasons include owning pets, smoking or having other people living on the premises without permission.
- Premises Uninhabitable – If you or your guest is responsible for an incident that leads to the rental being considered uninhabitable, such as a flood or fire, your landlord may have the right to evict you without advanced notice.
- Failure To Keep Premises Clean Or Repair Damage – Similar problems occur if you don’t keep your unit/property reasonably tidy and when you, other occupants or guests cause damages that you don’t repair within an acceptable time.
- Interference With Reasonable Enjoyment – While tenants have rights when it comes to rentals, repeatedly failing to keep your noise level down or disrupting the peace of your landlord/neighbours in other ways can get you evicted too.
|Reason Given By the Landlord||Termination For Cause Notice Requirement|
|Non-Payment of Rent||No less than 10 days after a rent payment is late by 5 or more days|
|Material Breach of Rental Agreement||No less than 1 month before the lease ends (if the tenant doesn’t resolve the issue within an acceptable time)|
|Failure to Keep Premises Clean or Repair Damage||No less than 5 days after the tenant fails to tidy the premises or make the repairs within an acceptable time|
|Interference With Peaceful Enjoyment||No less than 5 days but no more than 14 days|
Do you need tenant insurance in Newfoundland and Labrador?
Can landlords say no to smoking in Newfoundland?
Can landlords say no to pets in Newfoundland?
Can I withhold rent if my landlord doesn’t make repairs?
What happens if I make a late rent payment in Newfoundland?
Remember Your Rights As A Tenant In Newfoundland
If you’re about to rent a dwelling in Newfoundland and Labrador and want a good relationship with your future landlord, it’s essential to learn your rights and responsibilities as a tenant before you start packing up your stuff. Contact the Residential Tenancies Section of the provincial government for more information.
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