In addition to being busy creating forms under the Condominium Act, the Province has kept busy creating a new mandatory standard lease for residential unit under the Residential Tenancies Act (the legislation presently regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants in a residential setting). Starting April 30, 2018, landlords of private residential rental units, including condominium units, must use the new mandatory Residential Tenancy Agreement form (the “Form”) for all new leases. The Form can be found here.
The good news for condominium corporations and property managers is that the new standard Form attempts to clarify rights and obligations of landlord and tenants when the rental property is a condominium unit.
Tenants must comply with the governing documents
First, the new Form requires landlords to indicate if the rental unit is in a condominium. If the rental unit is a condo, the Form requires landlord to provide the condominium’s governing documents and requires the tenant to abide by them:
Regrettably, the language seems to indicate that the tenant only has to comply with the governing documents if the landlord provides a copy of them. However such interpretation is not accurate.
Pursuant to section 119 of the Condominium Act, the occupier of a unit [this includes a tenant] must comply with the Condominium Act, the declaration, the by-laws and the rules. This section also provides that owners are responsible to ensure that their tenants (and any visitors) comply with such document. Often, the declaration will also provide that the owner of each unit must require all tenants, residents and visitors to comply with the Condominium Act and the governing documents.
Moreover, section 83 of the Condominium Act provides that landlords have an obligation to provide their tenants with a copy of the declaration, by-laws and rules of the corporation within 10 days of entering into the lease or its renewal.
While owners are required to secure compliance from tenants and visitors, condos may also have a duty to take all reasonable steps to secure such compliance either from the owner or, if necessary, directly from the tenant. If a tenant is in breach of his or her obligations, and the owner is unable or unwilling to obtain compliance from his or her tenant, a corporation can file a court application for an order for compliance.
Hopefully this “reminder” to comply with governing documents in the new Form will remind both landlords and tenants of their obligations in this regards and avoid the often heard excuse by landlord and tenants: “we did not know”.
Pet restrictions are valid
The second thing the new mandatory Form attempts to do is to recognize the authority of condominium corporations to impose restrictions on pets.
Indeed, the Residential and Tenancies Act provides that “[a] provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.” Consequently, a landlord cannot prevent a tenant from having a pet. However, many condominiums have pet restrictions and this often results in a three-way dispute between the condominium, the landlord and the tenant.
There are many court cases on the interactions between the Condominium Act and the Residential Tenancies Act. On one hand, the Residential Tenancies Act applies as between the landlord (presumably the owner of the condominium unit) and the tenant (presumably the person occupying the unit). On the other hand, the Condominium Act applies as between the condominium corporation, the owners and the occupiers of the units.
While the Residential Tenancies Act specifically prevents prohibition of pets in a residential lease, this legislation does not supersede the Condominium Act [at least not on this point] and this is what the new form is attempting to clarify. Tenants must abide by pet restrictions applicable to the condominium where they rent. A tenant simply cannot have more rights than owners with respect to pets.
The new mandatory Form explicitly recognize that a landlord can require a tenant to comply with pet restrictions found in the condominium’s rules:
Moreover, the notes attached to the new Form explicitly advise tenants that landlords can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to evict a tenant who has a pet when the rules of the condominium do not allow pets:
The new Form is an attempt by the Province to clarify and bring to the attention of landlords and tenants their existing obligations with respect to the condominium. It remains to be seen whether this new form will reduce the number of disputes between condominiums, landlords and tenants, but it certainly a step good step to try to reconcile the two legal framework. Condominiums will be able to rely on the provisions of the new mandatory when seeking compliance from a tenant or the landlord.
For those wishing to learn more about the new Residential Lease Form, here’s a link to an article by Gowling’s Olivia Lifman.