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A recent development has taken place in the realm of residential tenancies since our last blog about the exclusion of marijuana use in residential tenancies.

On April 30 2018, all new residential tenancies in Ontario must use the same standardized lease, which was created by the Ontario Government to simplify lease terms that everyone can understand. The Ontario Government also created the standardized lease to prevent landlords from including illegal terms in their leases, such as a “no pet” provision.

The standardized lease applies to residential lease agreements for single and semi-detached homes, apartment buildings and rented condominiums, but does not include care homes, mobile parks, land lease communities and most social housing. New standardized leases are currently being drafted for those tenancies, and will take effect sometime in the future.

Landlords must be aware that they now have additional obligations with the implementation of the new standardized lease. If a landlord fails to give a tenant a copy of the lease within twenty-one days of the commencement of the lease term, the tenant can withhold one months’ rent. If the Landlord provides the lease within that time, the tenant cannot withhold rent. However, if the tenant does not receive a copy of the lease ever, the tenant can terminate the tenancy by providing sixty-days written notice to the landlord. This is regardless of the amount of time remaining on the lease term.

Residential leases that are not on the new standardized lease forms and are entered into until April 29, 2018 will remain in effect and are enforceable. There is no requirement to sign the new standardized lease after April 30, 2018.

Real Estate Agents in Ontario and some Ontario Landlords use the OREA (Ontario Real Estate Association) Lease forms. These forms will no longer be able to be used after April 30, 2018. OREA has advised they are working with the Ontario Government to create an approved lease form that complies with the standardized lease requirements for their members to use.

If you enter into a lease that is not in the prescribed form on or after April 30, 2018, your lease will not be enforceable.
If you have any questions regarding the standardized lease, feel free to give us a call and we will be more than happy to talk to you about it.

Murray Brown, Paralegal

I started my career as a litigator and that remains about 70% of my personal practice these days. Our firm employs other lawyers who do not practice any litigation and focus on the document side of law.

When I started out, 25 years ago, most contracts I litigated on were complicated and used three or four big words, when one smaller word would do. Despite having been told in Law School we needed to embrace “plain English for Lawyers” there was little sign that anyone was actually doing that.

As my career evolved into more drafting of leases, contracts and other documents, I refused to continue to use old style precedents and these days I estimate approximately 40% of lawyers draft that way as well. Why do 60% of lawyers continue to use old style, long winded, extra words thrown in for no reason, documents?

I have a few theories, based on lawyers I have encountered over the past 25 years:

1. The lawyer is unsure of the law surrounding the document and is sticking to the precedent to ensure they don’t miss something.
2. The lawyer believes that lawyers must use complicated language to sound like a lawyer.
3. The lawyer learned English outside of Canada in a country that taught a more formal style of English than we currently use in Canada.
4. The lawyer is 100 years old and has no interest in changing their ways. OK, I’m kidding. The oldest practicing lawyer I’ve ever encountered was 86.

I don’t draft “old school” style. I draft using everyday words that capture the intention of the parties signing the documents. I want our clients to be able to confidently understand their documents, not just “hope the lawyer got it right”.

If your lawyer doesn’t draft in Plain English, ask why and if there is no good reason (or at least one that uses small words) come talk to us. We’re happy to help!

Inga B. Andriessen JD
Senior Lawyer