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A Landlord's Guide to Standard Leases in Ontario

by Rhenti on

A lease is a powerful document, essentially outlining how your tenant can and can’t live while renting your property. This is largely why the government created the standard form of lease, to give landlords a customizable template that simultaneously protects the rights of tenants. 


Below we’re breaking down what these standard forms of leases are, what they include, who has to use them, the consequences of not using them, where to get them, and everything else you need to know to use (or not use) them effectively. 


What’s the purpose of a standard form of lease?

A standard lease, AKA a residential tenancy agreement, is a document that outlines the rules that govern the relationship between a landlord and their tenants. To save landlords from having to come up with brand new leases each time they sign a tenant, a standard form of lease is a template approved by the government that can be conveniently used over and over again. Take a look at all the forms every landlord in Ontario should know.


Note for clarity: Although the fillable form is called a standard form of lease, we’ll be referring to it as a standard lease from here on.


Who’s required to use one?

Short answer: most residential landlords. 


Standard leases must be used for most residential tenancies in Ontario, including:

  • Single and semi-detached houses
  • Apartment buildings
  • Condominiums
  • Secondary units (for example basement apartments)

They should not be used for:

  •  Care homes
  •  Sites in mobile home parks or land lease communities
  •  Social and supportive housing that is exempt from the rent increase guideline
  •  Member units in co-operative housing, and
  •  Any other accommodation that is exempt from the act

See section five of the Residential Tenancies Act to learn more about leasing exempt accommodations. 


What happens if you’re required to use a standard lease but don’t?

If a tenant doesn’t receive a standard lease when entering into a written tenancy agreement on or after April 30, 2018, you have 21 days to provide one after the tenant makes a written request. If you don’t provide it within this time, the tenant is allowed to withhold one month’s rent or give you 60 days’ notice to end their tenancy early. 


If the tenant chooses to withhold the rent, you have 30 days to provide them with the standard lease. If you still don’t provide it, the tenant does not have to repay that month’s rent. 


If you provide it within 21 days of the written request, the tenant can decide whether or not they agree with the terms. If they don’t, the tenant can give you 60 days’ notice to end their tenancy early. However, this notice cannot be given later than 30 days after providing a copy of the standard lease. The end date or termination date on the notice must be the end of a rental period.


Is there more than one kind of standard lease?

There is one kind of standard lease in Ontario but there are two versions, one more recent than the other. For most residential tenancies, new agreements signed on or after March 1, 2021, must use the updated standard lease, released in December 2020.


Where do you get a standard lease form?

Download a standard lease form from the government’s Central Forms Repository


What does a standard lease form include?

  1. Parties to the agreement

The names of the tenants and landlords signing the lease. 


  1. Rental unit

A description of the rental unit, its address, any parking spaces, and their location are filled in here. There are checkboxes you can use to indicate whether or not the property is a condo. If it is, this is the section where the tenant agrees to follow the condo rules, which the landlord needs to provide. You can staple a printout or photocopy of the condo rules to the lease agreement so the tenant has them for reference.

  1. Contact information

The landlord provides an address where formal notices must be sent. This section also allows landlords and tenants to provide their emails and agree to receive and send formal notices via email. Additional contact info can also be written in this section to be used for emergencies and day-to-day issues.

  1. Term of tenancy agreement

Outlines the date the tenant can move in and the length of their tenancy. Worth noting: when the end of the agreement is reached the tenant doesn’t have to move out, renew, or sign a new lease. Usually, the arrangement shifts to month-to-month, with the tenant giving two months’ notice to the landlord when they plan to leave. 

  1. Rent

This section provides a breakdown of the total cost of rent, which is what future rent increases are based on. The base price of the rent is stated, the price of any parking units, and the cost of any other additional services and utilities. Also listed is when the rent is due, method of payment, and who it is paid to. 


  1. Services and utilities

This section covers who is responsible for paying the rental unit’s utilities (heat, electricity, water) and outlines what services are included and not included in the total rent.


  1. Rent discounts

This section gives the landlord the opportunity to offer a discount on rent. 

  1. Rent deposit

Whether or not a rental deposit (AKA last month’s rent) is needed, and the amount, are covered in this section. Worth noting: rental deposits are to be applied to the last month of the tenancy and can’t exceed the cost of one month’s rent or the cost of a rental period, for example, if rent is paid on a weekly basis. Rental deposits are not to be used as damage deposits.

  1. Key deposit

Confirms whether or not a deposit for the key is required and the deposit amount. This is in case the key, card, or remote entry device isn’t returned or is damaged at the end of the tenancy. The deposit cannot exceed how much it would cost to replace the key.

  1. Smoking

This section addresses if smoking is allowed in the rental unit. Provincial law states smoking isn’t allowed in indoor common areas outside rental units (i.e. the lobby). There is no law preventing smoking in private units, but landlords and condo/co-op members can legally make their buildings non-smoking. 

  1. Tenant’s insurance

Whether or not a tenant needs to get tenant’s insurance (AKA renter’s insurance) is outlined under section 11. If the landlord asks to see proof of it, the tenant must provide it. Rhenti recommends asking tenants to get tenant’s insurance as a best practice. Fire, theft, and vandalism, for example, are covered under it.

  1. Changes to the rental unit

This section says decorative items like blinds and pictures are allowed to be installed, but changes to the rental unit require the landlord’s permission. This section of the contract can’t be altered, but additional and more specific terms can be added under section 15. 

  1. Maintenance and repairs

This is another section that cannot be altered. It says that the landlord must keep the property in good repair, complying with all health, safety, and maintenance standards. It also states that the tenant must pay for any damage they or their guests do to the property. It doesn’t matter if it happens willfully, or as a result of neglect. Under section 13 the tenant is responsible for keeping the unit clean, with the exception of any cleaning the landlord agreed to do. Additional terms can be added under section 15.

  1. Assignment and subletting

This section can’t be altered. It states that the tenant needs the landlord’s permission to sublet the unit, and the landlord can’t arbitrarily say no to potential subletters. Additional details can be specified under section 15.

  1. Additional terms

Under section 15, it states that additional terms can be attached to the lease agreement. Rules surrounding the nature of the added terms and how they are presented are also provided. 

  1. Changes to this agreement

This states any changes need to be updated and agreed upon in writing. 

  1. Signatures

All landlords and tenants listed in section one need to sign the lease and be given a copy of the tenancy agreement.


Can you deviate from your standard lease?

The only ways to deviate from what’s stated in your lease are:

  1. if you and your tenant agree on any proposed changes in writing, or
  2. there are legal grounds for changes

Here are some forms all landlords should know to help you navigate tenancy termination, rent increases, tenant-landlord dispute resolution, and other common landlord-tenant situations.


Where can I go to learn more about and stay updated on standard lease agreements?

Check out and bookmark (where applicable) these resources to learn more about and stay current with standard lease changes:


Other standard lease FAQs


Is the standard lease form available in multiple languages?

Yes, you can download the standard lease form in over 20 different languages from the government’s site above. 


Can a tenant ask for a Standard Form of Lease if a tenancy agreement was signed before April 30, 2018?

No, the tenant cannot ask for a Standard Form of Lease unless both parties agree and new terms are negotiated on or after April 30, 2018.


Can the tenant ask for a Standard Form of Lease if their fixed-term tenancy agreement was signed before April 30, 2018, and it ends after April 30, 2018?

No, if a fixed-term tenancy agreement was signed before April 30, 2018, and it renews to a month-to-month tenancy after April 30, 2018, tenants cannot ask for a standard lease.

For example: The landlord and tenant entered into a one-year fixed-term lease that began July 1, 2017, and ends June 30, 2018. The parties do not have to use the Standard Form of Lease starting July 1, 2018, if the tenancy will continue on a monthly basis under the same terms and conditions listed in the original agreement. 


However, if the landlord and tenant both agree to enter into another written fixed-term tenancy beginning July 1, 2018, the Standard Form of Lease must be used.


What if there’s a change of landlord?

A new landlord has the same rights and duties as the previous landlord. A new landlord must follow all the terms of this agreement unless the tenant and new landlord agree to other terms. A new landlord should provide the tenant with their legal name and address.


Automatically include Ontario standard leases in your application process

Hopefully, standard leases—what they are, how to use them, and answers to other pressing questions—are now clearer in your mind.


If you’re looking for a better way to attract and sign your next tenant—with the Ontario Standard Lease automatically baked into the process—consider Rhenti. 


Learn more about Rhenti’s all-in-one lead-to-lease platform.


The blog posts on this website are for the purpose of general introductory information. They can’t serve as an opinion or professional advice. Speak to a professional before making decisions related to your circumstances.