Last Updated: March 16, 2010
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Renting a Place to Live
Look for a place that is safe and comfortable. Check the condition of things like smoke detectors, locks, windows, appliances and electrical outlets.
Look for a place you can afford. Find out the amount of the rent, the amount of the security deposit, who is responsible for paying utility charges and the usual cost of the utilities. Determine if there are extra charges for things like parking, additional storage, or pets.
Before you move in, inspect each room carefully and note the condition of each room on a checklist. Make a list of needed repairs. Ask the landlord to sign the checklist and be sure to keep a copy. Sample checklist forms are available through the Office of Residential Tenancies and on their website.
A landlord can ask you for character references and financial references. For example, they might ask to contact a previous landlord or current employer.
It is unlawful discrimination for a landlord to refuse to rent to you because of your ancestry (includes colour and perceived race), religion, sex, sexual orientation, age (over 18), family status, marital status, disability, or receipt of public assistance. The law does allow rental accommodations to be designated exclusively for people over the age of 55 years.
A landlord can ask you to pay a security deposit and sign a written rental agreement. They cannot ask you to pay more than one month's rent in advance or ask you to agree that they do not have to keep the property in good repair.
A security deposit is money you give a landlord as security for damage, cleaning, and unpaid rent. Many people call this a damage deposit. Landlords can ask for a security deposit of up to the amount of one month's rent. Tenants can pay the deposit in two payments, one-half at the beginning of the tenancy and the rest within two months.
After your rental agreement ends, you and your landlord may agree in writing about how the security deposit will be dealt with. If you have paid your rent, left the place clean and undamaged, and given proper notice to end the tenancy, your security deposit should be returned to you at the end of the tenancy. You do not have to pay for ordinary wear and tear.
If you and your landlord do not have an agreement, your landlord has seven days after your rental agreement ends, excluding weekends and holidays, to...
- return your deposit, or any undisputed portion of it, with interest, or
- give you written notice that they intend to keep all or part of the deposit
When you move out, you must provide a forwarding address to the landlord, or the landlord does not have to provide you with a notice of claim against the security deposit, and won't know where to send a cheque to refund the deposit, or any portion of it, that is not claimed by the landlord.
If you receive notice of the landlord's claim to keep any or all of the security deposit and want to dispute it, complete the bottom portion of the notice and forward it to the Office of Residential Tenancies within 120 days of the end of your tenancy agreement. The Office will set a date to hear the dispute.
If the landlord does not return the deposit or give you written notice of a claim for some or all of the deposit, you can apply to the Office for an order directing the return of the deposit plus interest.
If the Office is satisfied that you provided a forwarding address to the landlord, but the landlord has not returned the deposit or served notice of a claim, the Office will grant an order directing the return of the security deposit. The Office can order another tenant of the landlord to pay their rent to the Office instead of the landlord and this money can be used to refund the security deposit and interest owing.
You have the right to privacy. Generally, the landlord can only enter your rented premises if...
- you have given permission to the landlord at the time or within the 7 days beforehand
- there is an emergency and the landlord must enter to protect life or property
- it reasonably appears that you have abandoned the premises
- they are showing the property to another renter after you have given notice to move out and they have either given or made reasonable attempts to give you two hours notice - excluding Sundays or days of religious worship
The landlord may also enter the premises between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. if they have given you 24 hours written notice stating the time (within a four hour time frame), date and reason for entering.
You must keep the place clean and repair any damage caused by yourself or your guests.
The landlord must keep the premises in safe condition and keep the appliances and services, such as power, gas and water, in working order. The landlord cannot refuse to repair these things even if the repair was needed when you rented the place.
Some municipalities have bylaws setting minimum standards for rental accommodation. You may contact your city or town office to determine if they have bylaws and, if so, ask that a bylaw enforcement officer inspect the property. They may order the landlord to repair any matters not complying with the minimum standards.
You cannot stop paying rent because the property needs repairs. The Office of Residential Tenancies can help you deal with disputes over repairs.
If you have a lease agreement for a fixed term, no rent increases are allowed except as provided in the agreement.
If your rental agreement is week to week or month to month the landlord must give you at least six month's notice. There cannot be more than two rent increases in a year.
Public housing authorities and non-profit corporations can increase rent based on a tenant's income without giving six month's notice and specific requirements may vary.
If you have a week to week or month to month rental agreement and want to move out, you must notify your landlord in advance.
If you pay your rent weekly you must...
- give one full week's notice
- give your notice no later than the day before your final week's rent is due
Otherwise you must...
- give one full month's notice
- give your notice no later than the day before your final rent is due
You can give immediate notice to move out if the landlord breaches a material part of the rental agreement. For example, if the premises are in such bad condition that they are not livable. In these cases the notice is effective the day after the landlord receives it. Before giving this kind of notice, tenants must give the landlord a reasonable period to fix the situation, if it can be fixed.
The notice to move out must identify your rental unit and be in writing, dated, and signed by you. The notice can be delivered in person or by mail.
If you want to receive the required notice before the landlord shows the premises you must provide a telephone number or email address to the landlord. You should ensure that the landlord receives your forwarding address.
Some people sign rental agreements for longer periods of time. Such agreements are often called leases. A landlord may offer a bonus if you agree to rent for a longer period of time.
If you sign a lease...
- you agree to rent the property for that period of time
- you are responsible for paying rent on the property until the end of that period
- you can cancel the agreement early only if you and the landlord agree
If you want to move out earlier...
- the landlord can hold you responsible for rent until the end of the lease
- you can ask the landlord to agree to cancel the lease
- you have the right to try to sublet (rent) the property to someone else for the remainder of the lease, with the consent of the landlord
The landlord can ask you to move out immediately if your rent is 15 days late or 15 days after you are notified that your utility payments are late. The landlord can take legal action to collect on any rent you owe after you move out. You may be able to work something out with your landlord to avoid this. If you cannot pay your rent...
- explain the problem to the landlord
- tell the landlord how and when you will pay your rent
- make sure you follow through
There are also a number of situations where the landlord can give you one month's notice to move out. These include, among others, if...
- the security deposit remains unpaid for more than 30 days
- you are repeatedly late paying rent
- an unreasonable number of occupants are living in the rental unit
- you or your guests disturbed or jeopardized the health or safety of others living around them or the landlord
- you fail to repair your damages to the rental unit after being given notice and a reasonable time to do the repairs
The landlord must first give you a reasonable period of time to correct the situation, if possible.
If you refuse to move out, the landlord cannot simply...
- throw you or your possessions out on the street
- change the locks on the doors
- hold your possessions until you pay the rent
However, the landlord can ask the Office of Residential Tenancies for an order of possession. An order for possession allows the sheriff to move you out of the property or determine another appropriate way to return control of the premises to the landlord.
When disputes arise between landlord and tenants they may be able to resolve the situation in a reasonable fashion. If this is not possible you can apply to the Office of Residential Tenancies for an order to resolve the matter. The Office can deal with any dispute concerning a rental agreement, including disputes over repairs, rent increases or security deposits. There may be a fee for some types of applications.
Following an application and determination, the Office of Residential Tenanices can make a number of different orders including an order that...
- reduces the tenant's rent
- sets repair or cleaning costs and determines the person responsible to pay the expense
- awards damages
- determines how the security deposit is to be dealt with
Renting a Home (booklet)
Office of Residential Tenancies
Toll Free Phone: 1-888-215-2222 (Saskatchewan only)
Toll Free fax: 1-888-867-7776 (Saskatchewan only)