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Renters Guide

The federal government provides laws covering landlord rights (rental situation) and tenant rights to rent an apartment without worrying about being discriminated against because of any mental or physical disability you may have or your color, race, gender, age, and religion. Your Tenants Rights also include the right is to know why your rental application was rejected.

Tenants rights under the Landlord Tenant Act also covers the right to privacy in your own place of residence. Tenants' rights in the form of rental forms further guarantees a landlord must provide you with at least a 24-hour written notice before he or she enters your apartment. In a case of emergency a landlord may have the legal right to enter your apartment.

The tenant rights only apply if you read the rental agreement carefully and thoroughly. Make sure you read the entire residential rental agreement including any fine print. If at all possible, have a lawyer take a look at the rental agreement before you sign it.

Signing a rental agreement

If you go ahead and sign the rental agreement (without you first reading it) you may forfeit some or all of your Tenants' Rights as a renter. For example: your request that the landlord pay for any repairs that may be needed. What you can do if you are sued by your landlord. If in the unlikely event that your landlord actually sues you and takes you to court, you do have all of the following Tenants' Rights: (1) The legal right to appeal the civil lawsuit (2) The legal right to be given proper written notice and in a timely manner, and (3) The legal right to make amends. In other words, you may wish to pay for any overdue rent, or perhaps put right a breach of the rental agreement.

Your tenants rights to request repairs and maintenance. Your place of residence should be deemed as a suitable living condition. Utilities such as heat, water and electricity MUST be provided by the landlord. And under the Landlord Tenant Act the apartment should be completely free of any dangerous safety hazards. If your apartment has fallen into disrepair, you have Tenants' Rights to hold back a portion of the rent. You can organize repairs yourself and under the Landlord Tenant Act send a bill to the landlord. Plus, you are legally obligated to report it to a building inspector, and even take the steps to move out of the apartment without incurring any penalty which normally would be construed as a breach of the rental agreement. Generally, there is (3) types of notices for eviction under the Landlord Tenant Act.

• A "Pay Rent or Quit Notice" which gives you by law 3 to 7 days to either pay the rent that is overdue or for you to move out of your unit or apartment.
• A "Cure or Quit Notice" which may be served on you in the event that you are in breach of the rental agreement (e.g. things such as illegally having an animal inside the apartment and/or you constantly cause excessive noise). This sort of legal eviction notice allows a set amount of time for you to either alter your poor behavior or vacate the apartment altogether.
• The last sort of notice you can receive is an "Unconditional Quit Notice." This kind of eviction letter basically orders you to leave ASAP. In most cases, it provides you little or no chance to turn things around.

Getting back your security deposit

This kind of notice is used chiefly for bad offenders such as those who make ongoing agreement violations, which oftentimes causes property damage. It is also used for any renter who conducts an illegal activity in the apartment.

One of the best ways to make sure you get all of your security deposit returned once you vacate the premises is to do an initial walk-through before you move in recording any damage or legal property violations, and it is best to record these in writing.

Look for things such as stains in the carpet, broken or cracked windows, leaky taps and pipes, and even smaller things like marks on the walls.

Handy Tip: If you own a camera take some photographs of any damage you may find so that you can prove the damage was already there prior to you moving in. You should always keep an open line of communication with your landlord. Honest communication is the key and making note of any changes in Tenants Rights.

Should you keep receipts?

Generally speaking, you do not have to keep receipts or records, but to safeguard your legal rights as a renter it is advisable to retain all records regardless of its importance. It is a good idea to retain copies of: your rental agreement, cancelled rent checks which were returned, bank statements, and any written notices handed to you by your landlord. In the unlikely event, a dispute arises between you and your landlord you will have in your possession legal records to settled the dispute amicably under the Landlord Tenant Act or in a municipal court of law.

If your landlord sells the apartment will your rental agreement still be valid?

The answer is "Yes," if your landlord sells your apartment, under the Landlord Tenant Act the new owner is required to honor your rental agreement at least for the term of the lease. In most cases, your rental agreement would continue under your new landlord and by law your former landlord is required to legally transfer any security deposit and/or last month rent payment to the new owner. No changes to the original terms in the rental agreement can be made by the new landlord, including the amount of your rent and/or your security deposit until your rental agreement has expired.

Breaking a rental agreement

Under Tenants' Rights if you have signed a rental agreement which states a specific period of rental time (and it has not reached its end date as of yet) you may wish to negotiate new terms with the landlord. If you intend to end your rental agreement (at the end date of the agreement) and give a 30 day notice to vacate, or if you are a month-to-month tenant or a week-to-week renter and you give a 14 day notice to vacate, the landlord cannot legally charge you any fees for not renewing your rental agreement. Tenants' Rights under the Landlord Tenant Act, a landlord MUST provide you with a written 24-hour notice before he or she can legally enter your apartment. Plus the written notice should clearly state a reason as well as a time (the time must be somewhere between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.). Even under the Landlord Tenant Act, a landlord must have a genuine reason to want to enter your apartment. In most cases, it is to make any necessary repairs. However, now under the Landlord Tenant Act, NO notice is legally necessary in cases of emergencies.

Does landlord provide heating?

In most cases, temperatures are set under municipal bylaws. If the cold temperatures, are not being caused by you such as setting a thermostat to a lower temperature or leaving your windows open, then the landlord has a lawful responsibility to maintain the lowest temperature as set by the municipality/city which you live in. If your landlord does not meet the minimum set, you can make a formal complaint to the city's Building and Inspections board or your city councillor.

Does landlord make repairs?

If your landlord refuses to make necessary repairs on your request, and/or has a history of refusing to make repairs, under Tenants' Rights you should put your request in writing, and date and sign your letter and keep a copy of the letter. If your landlord still refuses to carry out the repairs in a reasonable period of time, contact your local city Building Inspector and make an appointment for them to come and check out the problem. If you find it difficult to get an inspector to look at the problem ask to speak to a supervisor. Always retain a copy of the inspectors report for your records.

No pets rental agreements

The landlord says to get rid of your pet. If a pet animal causes allergic reactions or is considered dangerous, and/or causes problems for other tenants or the landlord you must get rid your pet or perhaps consider moving to another place of residence as per Landlord notice to terminate your tenancy based on pets. However, even if you did sign a rental agreement which contained a "no pets" clause, if the animal is not a real problem for anyone then your landlord can not enforce it; because in most states a no pet clause is invalid under the law. You will not have to remove or get rid of your pet unless the Board issues a written order for you to do so.

Legal steps if facing eviction

If you have handed a Notice to Vacate by your landlord, you should under the Landlord Tenant Act immediately contact a local attorney or go to your local municipal court and find out exactly where you legally stand. Your landlord can evict you on the following grounds:

• Non payment of your rent on the day it is due. Your landlord can give you a Notice to Vacate, but legally it will not take effect until the 14th day after the notice is served or only 7 days if you pay your rent on a daily or week-to-week basis. The notice must clearly state that the termination can be stopped by you paying the outstanding amount before the date the notice is to take effect.
• If you are a tenant in subsidized or government housing and you have provided false information about your income and/or the incomes of those living with you.
• If you are involved in any illegal acts or permit somebody to do illegal acts on the grounds or anywhere in the building you reside.
• If you wilfully or negligently caused undue damage to your apartment, the building or surrounding property.
• If persons occupying your apartment continually contravention any health, safety or housing standards required by on overcrowding.

There are other grounds for eviction under the Landlord Tenant Act, such as if your landlord needs the apartment to live in, if your building you live in is scheduled for demolition, or major repairs or renovations require you to vacate. These types of situations usually have a number of specific conditions and so cannot be sufficiently covered in a report such as this one. Please consult a lawyer in such circumstances.

Can landlord lock you out

If you have not received an "Eviction Order" your Tenants' Rights under the Landlord Tenant Act states that if NO order has been served on you by the court then "no!" your landlord can not legally lock you out of your apartment.

However, if an "Eviction Order" has been issued, then the Sheriff can legally have the locks changed but by law your landlord can not do it. Nevertheless, there are a few unscrupulous landlords who will break the law and try and lock you out.

In cases like these you should without delay contact the local police and seek legal advice from your attorney. This type of action by a landlord is a blatant violation of your Tenants' Rights under the Landlord Tenant Act.

Landlord rent charges

Tenants' Rights under the Landlord Tenant Act, a landlord can charge a new tenant anything they wish. This is often referred to as "Vacancy Decontrol". If you believe the rent being is excessive, it is up to you to try and negotiate a lower rental payment before you move in to the apartment. You should always compare apartments and rental prices to make sure you are not being overcharged when compared to typical rents in the area. How this is spelt out in the acts section regarding lawful rent for a new tenant is: "The lawful rent for the first rental period for a new tenant under a new rental agreement is the rent first charged to the tenant." In other words, it is whatever a landlord can get away with charging you. It is somewhat ambiguous in the Landlord Tenant Act, but it's possible if you moved into a different apartment in the same building you'll be considered a new tenant.

Tenants' Rights under the Landlord Tenant Act; state that your landlord must provide you with a receipt for paying the rent especially if you have requested a receipt and it must be provided at no charge. If you decide that you are going to pay your landlord by "cash" and/or your landlord has made a bad name for himself by trying to use stand-over tactics then it is probably best if you request a receipt upon payment. If the landlord refuses to provide you with a receipt then you should contact the tenants' association in your building to approach your landlord in this matter. Always endeavor to get a receipt for your last month's rent deposit including any key or special pass card deposits.

Extra "Fees" & "Deposits"

Any request for additional fees and/or deposits is illegal, except "last month's rent" and the following items: Additional charges that are allowed Under the Landlord Tenant Act include payment for security keys, special remote entry devices and/or cards which are requested by the tenant, but not greater than their initial costs, and which are fully refundable such as key/card deposits. In these instances, make sure you get a receipt when you return the keys or cards and/or when you move out because it will be much easier at this time to get your deposit for these back. Landlords and any of their employees will be breaking the law if they try and get you to buy apartment furniture, carpeting or draperies, or demand that you pay for cleaning, painting, locker or parking space fees or any application fees to secure the apartment. If parking is not included in the rental fee, then legally a landlord can charge you a monthly fee for those additional services.

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