Moving into Rented Premises

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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.

This topic discusses the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant when moving out of rented premises. Rented premises include among others, apartments, houses, duplexes and condominiums. The person who rents the premises is called the tenant and the person you rent from is called the landlord. The Alberta law that applies to the landlord/tenant relationship is the Residential Tenancies Act.

Sometimes, the landlord will ask for a deposit from you to hold the premises you wish to rent. The landlord will have a right to keep the deposit if you do not move in. If the landlord agrees to refund the deposit, then get the agreement to refund the deposit in writing.

The premises you rent should be clean and in good repair. An inspection of the premises must be made by both the landlord and the tenant one week before or after moving in to the rented premises. A checklist to note conditions of ceilings, walls, windows, stairs, porches, landings, floors, plumbing, heating, carpets, drapes, etc. should be used during the inspection.” In case, landlord proposes two inspections to take place on different days, on days that are not holidays, and between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; then he can complete the inspection without the tenant. After the inspection, the landlord must provide the tenant with a report of the inspection describing the “condition of the premises”. Landlord shall maintain a copy of an inspection report for at least 3 years after the termination of the tenancy.

Landlord is entitled to enter the residential premises rented by him to you without the consent but after providing you with the notice of at least 24 hours before the time of the entry; in order to inspect the state of repairs of the premises, to make the repairs to the premises or to take any other necessary steps to ensure that the premises meet the standards required under any law in force in Alberta.

If you believe that the premises require repairs and you still wish to rent, write down the required repairs on your “tenancy agreement” so that you will not be responsible for these repairs when you move out. Once you move into the rented premises, you will be held responsible for any damage to the premises caused by accidents or vandalism. You may want to consider purchasing an insurance policy for both your personal belongings and accidental damage to other premises caused by your visitors or yourself.

The name of the landlord, a street address or postal address in Alberta must be provided to the tenant by either posting the landlord’s name in a common-area of the building or by personally serving a “Notice of Landlord” to the tenants within 7 days of moving into the rental premises.

You will often sign a Tenancy Agreement or Lease Agreement with the landlord once you agree to rent the premises. The Tenancy Agreement is a legal contract between you, as a tenant, and the Landlord. The Agreement must be consistent in providing the rights or responsibilities set out in the Residential Tenancies Act. If there is a conflict between the tenancy or lease Agreement and the Act, the Act will prevail.

Some obligations of the tenant include the following:

  • pay the rent on time.
  • not performing a substantial breach of the residential tenancy agreement.
  • not doing anything illegal on the premises;
  • not interfering with the rights of the landlord and other tenants;
  • not causing or permitting damage to the rented premises;
  • keeping the rented premises in good condition;
  • paying rent on time even when there is disagreement with the landlord.
  • If you change the lock during your tenancy period, you shall provide a key to the landlord.
  • You must move out when the residential tenancy agreement ends or is terminated.
  • In case of subletting the tenancy, must obtain a written permission from your landlord.

Some obligations of the landlord include the following:

  • giving proper notice when the landlord wishes to enter the rented premises;
  • ensuring the premises are in good repair and ready for you to move into;
  • returning your security deposit or whichever portion is not used for repairs or cleaning, along with a statement to account for any such deductions.
  • Not to disturb or bother the tenant’s possession or peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
  • Make sure that the residential premises meet the minimum requirements set out under the
    • Alberta’s Public Health Act;
    • Housing Regulation ; and
    • Minimum Housing and Health Standards.

If the landlord does not have the rented premises ready on the date you were to move in, you may sue for the costs of storing your furniture and staying in a hotel during the time when the apartment was not ready.

Once you sign the Agreement, you must be handed a copy of the Agreement within 21 days of you signing. If the landlord does not provide you with a copy, then you can withhold the rent payment until you receive the Rental or lease Agreement. You cannot withhold payment of the rent for any other reason even if there is a disagreement about repairs, heating, maintenance, etc.

In addition to the rules in the residential tenancy agreement, the landlord may set up the house rules for all the tenants. Both the landlord and tenant should have the copy of the rules. Some reasonable rules would be restricting real Christmas trees, pets, barbecues, satellite dishes, smoking or waterbeds. Landlord can change or add rules during the tenancy with the consent of the tenants.

There are generally 2 types of Tenancy or Lease Agreements that you can sign. First, there is a tenancy for a fixed term between specified dates. For example, the specified term may be from January 1 to December 31. Second, you may rent the premises for a periodic term: weekly, monthly or yearly, which continues until either the landlord or the tenant, gives notice to end the tenancy.

For a fixed term tenancy, you may have the option of assignment or sub-leasing your rented premises. Assignment is a legal term to mean you can assign your interest to another person. For example, if you signed a fixed term tenancy for a period between January 1 and December 31, and you decided that you did not want to live there after 3 months, you can assign your lease to another person.

A landlord may not refuse to consent to the assignment or sub lease unless there are reasonable grounds for that refusal. The landlord must give you the written reason of refusal within 14 days after receiving the request. In case landlord does not answer the request within 14 days, then you may assume that the landlord agrees to the sublease or assignment. Further, the Act prohibits a landlord from charging a fee for giving consent to an assignment or sublease of a residential tenancy agreement. Even though you may assign the premises to another person, you may not be relieved of your responsibility under the Agreement. If the person who took over the lease breaches the lease in any way, you may be held responsible. For example, the person may not pay the required rent and you could be held responsible.

Sub-leasing during a fixed term tenancy means that you can sub-lease your rented premises for a time during the fixed term period. For example, you may rent your apartment for 3 months during a 1-year lease and move in after the 3 months. The landlord cannot refuse to consent to the sub-lease unless there are reasonable grounds for doing so. You will continue to be held responsible for any breaches in the Tenancy or Lease Agreement as in an assignment.

The landlord will ask you for a security or damage deposit. This amount of money is paid one time to the landlord as security in case you damage the rented premises. The maximum amount of security deposit paid is one month rent. The landlord must deposit the money into an interest bearing trust account at a bank until you move out. The return of the security or damage deposit must include interest paid by the bank. Check with the Landlord Security Advisory board on the current rate of interest.

When you move out of the rented premises, the landlord must return the security or damage deposit within 10 days. If you damaged the premises in any way, or did not clean the apartment or owe money for other repairs or maintenance, the landlord will deduct the money owed accordingly. The landlord cannot deduct for ‘normal wear and tear’ on the premises.

When you decide to move out of your rented premises, you must provide notice to the Landlord. The notice period depends upon the type of tenancy or lease agreement you signed. Consult your local Landlord Tenant Advisory Board for details.