Many people rent places to live. The person who pays rent for a place to live is called the tenant. The person who rents out the place is called the landlord. Landlords and tenants have legal rights and duties. This booklet explains what these are and provides information about how to resolve a dispute.
Tenants and landlords who know their legal position are better able to set up rental arrangements that meet their needs. They are also more likely to be able to work out fair solutions if problems come up. If the parties are unable to work out their own solution, either party can apply to the Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) for help.
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 is the law that deals with renting a place to live. It sets out certain rights and duties that are part of every rental agreement. Even though landlords and tenants might never talk about them, the Standard Conditions - set out under the Regulations to the Act - are still part of every rental agreement. If a landlord or tenant does not comply with the Act they can be required to pay the other party for damages or losses that result. A landlord and a tenant cannot agree that any part of the Act will not apply to them. That kind of agreement cannot be enforced.
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 applies to almost all situations where living spaces are rented. This includes rentals in both urban and rural areas, rental agreements entered into by people who are under 18, mobile home rentals, and most "room and board" situations. It also now applies to senior residences that provide meals and accommodation.
There are some situations where the Act does not apply. The Act does not apply where living accommodations and a business are located together and rented under a single agreement. It does not apply where a farm or acreage is rented to the person who is farming the land. It also does not apply to residences rented to students and staff by educational institutions, personal care homes, or residences that are under very long-term leases (for life or more than 20 years).
The Act also does not apply to a number of temporary living arrangements such as stays in hotels or motels for less than six consecutive months, or stays in crisis or emergency shelters, hospitals, the YMCA, YWCA or Salvation Army.
There are some other laws that also apply to landlord-tenant situations, including fire regulations, housing standards and human rights laws. In addition to the rights and duties set out by the law, landlords and tenants are free to negotiate additional terms of their rental agreements.
|The Government of Saskatchewan also has information on renting and leasing. As well, they have the approved forms that can be used for things like ending a rental agreement or applying to have a security deposit returned. Sometimes an approved form is required. All approved forms can be found on the ORT website: www.saskatchewan.ca/ORT|
Renting a Place
Finding a Place to Live
Finding a place to rent can be time-consuming. People can find rental suggestions from...
- electronic and newspaper advertisements
- housing registries provided by universities, technical institutes or community colleges
- municipal rental guides
- real estate agents who handle rental property
- property management firms
- family, friends or co-workers
Some points for a person to consider when choosing a place to rent are...
- How much is the rent?
- Is it a month-to-month tenancy or fixed term?
- Does the landlord plan any rent increases?
- How much is the damage or security deposit?
- Is it clean and in good repair?
- Have there been any reports of infestations or rodent activity?
- Is it suitable for the number of occupants?
- Who pays the utilities?
- What is the usual monthly cost of the utilities?
- Are there extra charges for parking or additional storage?
- What is the policy regarding pets?
- Is smoking allowed in the rental unit?
- What appliances does the landlord provide?
- Are the appliances, plumbing and wiring in good working condition?
- Is there a working smoke detector?
- Is the place conveniently located?
- Are the premises a condominium unit?
Sometimes a tenant can get information about the quality of the building and the service the landlord provides by talking to past or current tenants. The tenant may ask the landlord for names and telephone numbers of past or current tenants.
A tenant can suggest a lower rent or other favourable conditions. The landlord can decide whether to agree to any suggested changes.
A landlord can ask the tenant for character and financial references. For instance, the landlord might ask for the name of the tenant's previous landlord or the name of the tenant's employer. A landlord cannot charge for processing or accepting an application to rent. A landlord also cannot charge a fee for determining if a person is a suitable tenant or accepting them as a tenant.
Human Rights and Renting
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code protects against discrimination based on certain grounds. Under the Code, the protected grounds are...
- age (18 or more)
- religion or religious creed
- family status
- marital status
- sexual orientation
- race or perceived race
- place of origin
- receipt of public assistance
- gender identity
Landlords cannot decide whether to rent to someone based on any of the protected grounds listed above. A landlord must give equal consideration to everyone who applies.
For example, an advertisement cannot state "no immigrants" or "no Aboriginal people." It also cannot say "no children," or "must be working." Refusing to accept a guarantee from the Ministry of Social Services instead of a damage deposit is also discrimination.
A landlord can state a preference as long as that preference doesn't purposely exclude people on the basis of protected grounds. For example, an advertisement might state "students preferred" but people other than students must still be considered for the accommodation.
Rental properties can be designated pet-free or smoke-free. However, even in pet-free buildings, there must be an exception for service animals. A service dog is not considered a pet. Landlords cannot refuse to rent to someone because they have a service dog. If a tenant suddenly requires the use of a service dog in order to assist with a disability, the tenant cannot be evicted from a pet-free building.
If a person is renting out a room or a suite in their home, they may state a preference for one sex over the other. For example, a single woman who is renting out a room in her home may indicate that she will only rent to another woman. This would not be considered discrimination. The Code also allows for a building to be designated exclusively for people over the age of 55 years.
If you have any questions about discrimination as it relates to housing, or you feel you have been the victim of discrimination, please contact the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission at 1-800-667-9249 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making Rent Affordable
The Government of Saskatchewan has a number of programs to help people who cannot find an affordable place to rent. The Social Housing Program and the Affordable Housing Program both provide low income people with affordable rental housing options. For more information call 306-787-4177 or toll-free 1-800-667-7567. The Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement provides a monthly payment to help families or people with disabilities pay the rent. For more information call 1-888-488-6385 toll free or, if you are in Regina, call 306-787-4723.
When a landlord and a tenant agree to rent a place a rental agreement is created. It is sometimes called a tenancy agreement. A rental agreement can be oral, written, or understood from the circumstances. Sometimes it is informal; sometimes it is more formal with many terms and conditions.
A rental agreement is a contract. One party to a contract cannot change the terms of the contract, with the exception of the landlord's right to raise the rent on proper notice. The landlord and tenant can, however, agree to make changes.
The basic terms of a rental agreement are...
- The landlord gives the tenant the right to live in the rental unit, and agrees to maintain the unit and the services (appliances, furnace, and utilities) in good working order.
- The tenant agrees to pay rent and to pay it on time.
If either party breaks the contract they could have to pay the other party for any damages that result. In addition, the tenant may be evicted for non-payment of rent and other reasons allowed by law.
There are Standard Conditions that must be part of every rental agreement. Landlords and tenants cannot agree to change any of these conditions. They also cannot agree that any other part of The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 will not apply.
If a landlord and tenant have a written agreement, The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 requires that certain information be included in the written agreement. The agreement must include the...
- Standard Conditions
- correct legal names of the parties and address of the rental unit
- date the agreement was made
- address for service and telephone number of the landlord or agent and an emergency contact number
- type of tenancy (weekly, monthly or other)
- start date and, if tenancy is for a fixed term, end date (otherwise it will be considered a monthly tenancy)
- amount of rent, when it is due and whether it changes with the number of people living there (if so, by how much)
- amount of any security deposit and when it is to be paid
The written agreement must also state what services and facilities are provided and who pays for the utilities. The landlord must give a signed copy to the tenant within 20 days of when the tenant signed it. If a copy is not provided within 20 days, the tenant's duty to pay rent is suspended. Putting the rental agreement into writing is one way to prevent disagreements later on.
If the rental agreement is not in writing, it is still a legal contract. The Standard Conditions and other requirements of the Act apply. The landlord must still provide an address, telephone number and emergency contact number, in writing. The contact information must be provided to the tenant within 20 days of the start of the tenancy. An address is necessary so a tenant has a place to send or deliver a notice to vacate or any other notice to the landlord. If a landlord doesn't want to provide their home address, they may use a business address or postal box number.
Failing to Provide Contact Information
If the contact information is not provided as required, the tenant's duty to pay rent is suspended. The ORT recommends that landlords also provide tenants with a copy of the Standard Conditions even when the rental agreement is not in writing.
Sometimes landlords include terms in the rental agreement that are contrary to the Standard Conditions and the Act. These types of terms cannot be enforced. Some examples are...
- A term that requires the tenant to have the carpets professionally cleaned before they move out. Tenants are only required to leave the place reasonably clean. This may not require a professional carpet cleaning.
- A term that says the landlord is not responsible for something such as compensating the tenant for loss of heat or utilities. Landlords' responsibilities are outlined in the law and cannot be changed by putting a term like this in the agreement.
Types of Tenancies
Rental agreements may be for a periodic tenancy (week to week or month to month) or for a fixed amount of time, such as six months or a year. However, if the tenancy is for a fixed term of three months or longer the rental agreement must be in writing, otherwise it will be treated as a monthly tenancy.
Some people call a fixed term rental agreement a lease. If the tenant moves out before the lease is over, the landlord can make the tenant pay rent for the rest of the lease term. The landlord or the tenant may, however, end the lease early if both agree. An agreement to end a lease early should be in writing.
Sometimes a landlord tries to get a tenant to rent premises by promising to do certain repairs or make certain improvements. To avoid problems later on, the tenant can ask the landlord to put the promises in writing. Sometimes a landlord agrees to pay the cost of materials if the tenant makes certain improvements. The tenant can also ask the landlord to put this kind of agreement in writing.
The landlord may include certain conditions in the rental agreement, such as...
- no pets
- no smoking
- maximum number of tenants
- extra fee for NSF cheques or late rent payments
A tenant who doesn't like some conditions of the rental agreement can try to get the landlord to make some changes before they sign the agreement. Once an agreement is signed it can usually only be changed if the tenant and the landlord both agree. Even a new owner cannot change or add terms without the agreement of the tenant.
There are some changes that can be made. A landlord can give notice to increase rent for a month to month tenancy. If the rental unit is part of a housing program and the program is changed or discontinued, the landlord can make reasonable changes to the tenancy agreement to reflect these changes.
Once the agreement is signed it is binding even if the tenant does not move in. The tenant would still have to pay rent even if they changed their mind and did not move in. If a tenant is not allowed to move in, the tenant can apply to the Office of Residential Tenancies for an order that they be allowed to move in. If either party breaches the agreement they can be held responsible for loss or damages the other party suffers because the agreement was breached.
Landlords and tenants should both have insurance. Landlords may require the tenant to have tenant insurance as a term of the tenancy agreement. A landlord cannot require the tenant to use a specific insurer. For more information, contact an insurance broker. A brochure on tenant insurance is available from the Insurance Bureau of Canada: http://assets.ibc.ca/Documents/Brochures/What-is-Tenants-Insurance.pdf
Checking the Rental Unit
A tenant has the right to look over the rental unit carefully. Tenants should not agree in writing or verbally that a place is in good condition if it is not. This can cause problems later. The landlord could use the statement to prove that the damage happened after the tenant moved in. The landlord is legally obligated to do required repairs to the rental property even if the need for repairs is known to the tenant when they agree to rent.
Many landlords have a checklist to mark the condition of each room when the tenant moves in and moves out. A landlord or tenant can get a sample checklist from the ORT. Either party can also make their own checklist. It is a good idea for the tenant and the landlord to both sign, date and keep a copy of the checklist. A checklist protects both landlords and tenants. It can protect a tenant from a claim that damage occurred while the tenant lived in the place or it can help a landlord prove that damage occurred during the tenancy.
Sometimes a tenant only notices damage after moving in. It is a good idea for a tenant to let the landlord know about the damage as soon as possible. The tenant should write and sign a note describing the damage and stating the date they noticed it. The tenant should keep a copy of the note and give a copy to the landlord. Although the landlord may still dispute when or how the damage occurred, it is best to document it as soon as possible.
Paying a Security Deposit
Landlords will usually ask for a security deposit. A security deposit is money the landlord collects at the start of a tenancy to cover any losses caused by the tenant, such as damages to the place or unpaid rent. Many people call it a damage deposit. Landlords can only ask for a security deposit at the beginning of the tenancy. They cannot decide to ask for one later.
Landlords may require a security deposit of up to the amount of one month's rent. A tenant can pay the security deposit in two payments. The landlord can ask the tenant to pay up to one-half of the security deposit when the tenant agrees to rent the place. The rest is due two months after the tenant moves in.
For individuals receiving social assistance, a guarantee letter from Social Services is considered a security deposit. The guarantee may stay in place as long as the tenant continues to receive social assistance and doesn't change residences. A landlord cannot refuse to accept a security deposit guarantee.
If Social Services removes the guarantee, the landlord can request a security deposit from the tenant. The landlord must give the tenant one month's written notice that a security deposit is now required. One-half must be paid one month after the notice is given and the rest is due three months after the notice was given. Tenants who are leaving Social Assistance due to employment may be able to receive some funds from Social Services to help out with a security deposit and should contact their worker.
The security deposit must be held in trust by the landlord during the tenancy. It must be deposited in a trust account at a bank, credit union or other financial institution. It belongs to the tenant and must be held in trust for them. Once the tenancy is over the landlord may make a claim for some or all of it. If the tenancy lasts five years or more the tenant is entitled to interest on the deposit. Interest is calculated in accordance with the Act.
A Word about Roommates
Sometimes several people decide to rent a place together. People may want a roommate for a number of different reasons including to help pay the rent, for company or for an added sense of security. Landlords can have rules about how many people can stay in a place and can charge more for extra people, if this was agreed to when the place was rented out. As well, it is important to keep in mind that a landlord can end a tenancy if there are an unreasonable number of people living in the place.
Even if it is allowed by the landlord, there can be downsides to having a roommate. People with roommates have less privacy. Roommates may disagree about chores, guests and other aspects of day-to-day life. The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 does not cover issues between roommates and the ORT does not deal with disputes between roommates or co-tenants.
Even if all the roommates sign a rental agreement the landlord does not have to go after all of them for things like unpaid rent. This means that one tenant can end up on the hook for the entire rent even if they paid their share. It also means that a tenant could lose anything they paid towards the security deposit even if their roommate caused the damage. On the other hand, when only one tenant signs the rental agreement, that tenant can do things like decide to end the tenancy without consulting with any roommates.
People who decide to share a rented place can have a written agreement outlining their rights and obligations towards each other. It won't change the obligation of tenants to landlords, but some disputes may be avoided if everyone sharing the space agrees on the terms of the arrangement and understands their rights and obligations. If disputes still arise, roommates may have to consider taking the matter to Small Claims Court. A written agreement may help a tenant make the case that their roommate did not do what they agreed to do.
Living in a Rented Place
Landlords can make reasonable rules about the use or maintenance of the rental unit. For example, there may be a limit on how many people can stay in the place. There may be rules about a tenant's use of services and facilities. For example, laundry facilities may only be available during certain hours.
These rules must be in writing and the tenant must be told about the rules. It is important to understand the rules and follow them because a landlord can evict a tenant for repeatedly breaking the rules. If a tenant thinks that a rule is unreasonable they can apply for a ruling from the ORT. A hearing officer will hear both sides and decide whether or not the rule is reasonable. See Disputes for more information.
Paying the Rent
A landlord can only ask a tenant to pay the rent when it is due. For example, if rent is due monthly, the landlord can only ask the tenant to pay one month's rent at a time. A landlord can require post-dated cheques. The landlord cannot make future rent payable immediately based on a tenant's breach of the rental agreement.
Generally, a tenant must pay rent when it is due even if the landlord has not done what is required by the law. However, there are some situations where a tenant's duty to pay rent is suspended. This means that paying the rent can wait until a certain thing happens. One of these situations is if a copy of a written rental agreement is not provided to the tenant within 20 days of signing it. The payment of rent may also be suspended if there is no written agreement and the landlord does not give the tenant service and emergency contact information within 20 days. A tenant can also pay less rent if the landlord collected more than one month's rent as a security deposit. In this case the tenant can deduct the overpayment from the rent.
Rent is sent to the address provided by the landlord. The tenant and the landlord can agree to a different arrangement. The landlord must give the tenant a receipt for rent paid in cash. Tenants should never pay cash unless they receive proof of payment at the time the payment is made.
If the tenant has agreed to rent a place for a set period of time the landlord cannot increase the rent unless the agreement says this can be done. The agreement must state the amount of the allowed increase and when the rent can be increased.
Landlords can increase the rent with notice if the tenant is renting by the week or the month. The rent increase notice may be given to the tenant in-person, posted on the door of the rental unit and mailed or sent electronically.
The required notice must generally be served twelve months before the rent increase takes effect. But landlords who are members of an approved landlord association - and in good standing - can increase rent with six months' notice. SLA, the Saskatchewan Landlords Association, is such an approved landlord association.
Public housing authorities must give the same notice as other landlords unless the increase in rent is based on an increase in the tenant's income. Non-profit corporations must give the same notice as other landlords.
Generally, a tenant must have lived in the place for at least 18 months before a rent increase can take effect. However, landlords who are members of an approved landlord association can increase rent one year after the tenant starts renting. There can only be a maximum of two increases in a year.
If the notice is not served far enough ahead, it takes effect once the six or twelve months have passed. If a landlord does not give proper notice the ORT may require the landlord to refund any extra rent paid by the tenant.
A landlord can charge more rent if there is an increase in the number of people living in the place. This is not considered a rent increase. However, if the landlord is going to charge more for extra people there must be a written rental agreement that includes the amount the rent can be increased for additional people.
Some rental places come with things like parking stalls, appliances or laundry facilities. Landlords cannot take these things away, start charging for them or increase the charge for them. For example, a landlord cannot...
- increase charges for a parking stall
- take away some rented space, such as a garage or yard
- increase charges for utilities
- increase charges for laundry facilities or remove or reduce the laundry facilities
The landlord needs the agreement of the tenant or an order from the Office of Residential Tenancies to make these kinds of changes.
Tenant's Right to Quiet Enjoyment
A tenant has a right to a rental unit that is safe and fit to live in. If a tenant or landlord has concerns about a rental unit they may want to contact a municipal building inspector at the city or town hall where the rental unit is located, or a public health inspector for their health region.
A tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment of the rental unit. This includes but is not limited to...
- reasonable privacy
- freedom from unreasonable disturbance including disturbances created by the landlord, another tenant of the landlord or a person permitted on the premises by the landlord or another tenant
- exclusive possession of the premises, subject only to the landlord's right to enter under the circumstances outlined in the Act
- use of the common areas for reasonable and lawful purposes, free from significant interference
A landlord cannot take any of the tenant's belongings. A landlord cannot stop the tenant or someone the tenant has invited to visit from entering the rental unit or residential property. The only time a landlord can keep a tenant out of their place is when they have an order from the ORT. See Order of Possession by Landlord for more information.
During an election a landlord cannot stop candidates and people working for candidates from calling on tenants. Tenants have the right to display election advertising during an election campaign. The landlord can set reasonable conditions on the size and type of posters displayed and can prohibit them from being put up in common areas. Election posters must be removed within seven days following the election.
Neither the landlord nor the tenant can change the locks on a rental unit unless they both agree to it. If the landlord changes the locks the tenant must be given new keys. The landlord can change the locks for access to common areas, without the tenant's consent, provided the tenant is given new keys or other means of access.
Landlord's Right of Access
A landlord can enter a rental unit only under certain conditions set out in the Act. These include when...
- the tenant agrees, either at the time of entry or within the past seven days
- there is an emergency and the landlord must enter to protect life or property
- it reasonably appears that the tenant has abandoned the rental unit
- the landlord has an order from the ORT that authorizes the entry
A landlord can also give written notice to enter for a reasonable purpose. The notice must be given to the tenant in-person or posted on the door of the rental unit and mailed or sent electronically.
The notice must state when and why the landlord is entering. The time for entering can be up to a four-hour period. The time must be between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., but not on a Sunday or day of religious worship for the tenant. This notice must be given at least 24 hours in advance and not more than seven days before the landlord wants to enter.
Different rules apply if the tenant has given notice to move out. In this case the landlord only has to give the tenant two-hours' notice if they want to show the place to a prospective tenant. This shortened notice period applies to the last two months of a lease that is not going to be renewed.
The landlord can hand the two-hour notice to the tenant. The landlord can also phone or email to give notice, if the tenant has given them a phone number or email address. If the tenant has not given the landlord a phone number or email address, the landlord can enter and leave a notice on the door saying they entered to show the place. The landlord can also do this if they cannot reach the tenant by email or phone after a reasonable number of attempts.
If the landlord wants to show the rental unit to a prospective purchaser of the property, the landlord must give 24 hours' written notice or have the tenant's consent.
Cleaning and Repairs
Tenants and landlords are each responsible for certain cleaning and repairs.
A tenant must...
- do the ordinary cleaning of their place (this will include the yard and outside of the building if the tenant rents the house and yard)
- repair any damage they or their guests cause
- not create any health hazards
If the tenant does not repair damage they or their guests cause, the landlord can end the tenancy by giving one month's notice. In this case the landlord must first give the tenant a warning and a reasonable amount of time to fix the situation before ending the tenancy. A tenant does not have to make repairs required because of reasonable wear and tear.
A landlord must...
- keep the rental unit in a good state of repair and fit for the use and enjoyment of the tenant (even if the tenant knew the repairs were needed when they agreed to rent the place)
- look after a yard that tenants share, such as the yard of an apartment building (the landlord and tenant can agree on a different arrangement for cleaning and repairs)
- clean and repair any common areas (this might include hallways, entry areas, a shared laundry room and the outside of the building)
- maintain any services, fixtures, facilities or appliances that are included in the rent (this might include heating, water, electricity, laundry facilities, and a fridge and stove)
A tenant who no longer wants to rent their place can end the tenancy in a number of ways. If they have a lease they can choose to not renew it when it ends. If they rent by the month or the week they can give notice that they are going to move out. In some cases tenants can give immediate notice that they are moving out. As well, a landlord and tenant can agree at any time to end the tenancy. This kind of agreement should be in writing.
A lease that is not renewed ends on the date stated in the lease. The landlord must tell the tenant, in writing, whether they are willing to renew the lease or not at least two months before the end of the lease. This notice period gives the parties a chance to discuss future plans before the lease ends. The notice of intention must indicate whether or not the landlord is willing to renew the lease and, if so, on what terms.
Neither party is required to renew the lease. Tenants who receive notice that the landlord is willing to enter into a new lease have 30 days to accept the offer. If the landlord has not received a tenant's acceptance within 30 days, the offer will be considered as rejected by the tenant. A landlord may withdraw an offer of renewal at any time before it is accepted.
If a tenant wants to move out and have someone else take over the lease they need the written consent of the landlord. The landlord must not unreasonably withhold consent. A landlord can charge a fee of not more than $20 for considering, investigating or consenting to this change. A tenant who sublets is still responsible to the landlord for what was agreed to in the lease. For example, they still have to make sure the rent is paid. Tenants who are considering subletting should consider the risks and take steps to protect themselves.
If a tenant who rents by the week or the month wants to move out, they can give notice to their landlord. If the tenant rents by the month they must give one full month's written notice to the landlord. If the tenant rents by the week they must give one full week's written notice. The tenant must give notice no later than the day before the final rent is due. For example, if a tenant, who rents by the month, wants to move out on September 30, they must give notice no later than August 31. If the tenant doesn't give notice until September 1, they are legally required to pay October's rent.
The notice can be given to the landlord in-person, mailed to the contact address the landlord gave the tenant or sent electronically.
The notice must be in writing and include the tenant's name, the address of the rental unit and the date the tenancy will end. If not enough notice is given, the notice will take effect once the required notice period has passed.
Notice for Cause
If the landlord breaches a material part of the tenancy agreement a tenant can give immediate notice to end the tenancy agreement, even if a lease has been signed. The notice should indicate what the breach is. For example, if the rental unit is in such bad repair that it is not livable. In this case the notice will be effective the day after the landlord receives it.
Before giving this kind of notice the tenant must give the landlord a reasonable period to fix the situation, if it can be fixed. The notice must be in writing and include the tenant's name, the address of the rental unit, the date the tenancy will end and the grounds for ending the tenancy.
Return of Tenant's Property
If a tenant leaves personal property in the rental unit the landlord must apply for an order to deal with this property. The landlord cannot just keep the property or dispose of it. If the tenant cannot be located or does not make reasonable arrangements to deal with the property, the landlord can get an order allowing the landlord to deal with the property. The landlord may then sell the property and put the money towards any rent the tenant still owes.
Return of Security Deposit
A tenant must leave the rental unit reasonably clean and undamaged at the end of the tenancy, except for reasonable wear and tear. A tenant must return all keys to the landlord. A landlord can claim some or all of the security deposit for things like damages, unpaid rent or unreturned keys. A landlord can also claim for cleaning costs if the tenant did not leave the place reasonably clean.
A landlord has seven business days to claim some or all of the security deposit. The seven days start when the landlord knew or reasonably should have known that the tenant moved out. The landlord must use the proper form to give the tenant written notice of the claim. If the landlord fails to make the claim within seven business days after the end of the tenancy, the landlord loses their right to claim the security deposit and must return it to the tenant. The landlord and the tenant can just agree in writing that the landlord will keep some or all of the security deposit. Tenants who have to move out because the landlord is renovating or tearing down the building are entitled to get their security deposit back.
The landlord makes a claim by serving notice on the tenant. The notice must state why the landlord is making a claim to the security deposit. The notice can be served on the tenant in-person, by mail or by electronic means. Landlords do not have to serve this notice on tenants if they do not have a forwarding address for the tenant. A forwarding address can be an email address, a fax number, a cell phone number or a social media account where a written message can be left.
If the tenant disputes the claim, they fill in the dispute portion of the notice on the claim and send it to the ORT.
The ORT will set a date to hear the dispute. Upon receiving notice of the hearing, the landlord must pay the security deposit to ORT within 10 business days of receiving the notice. If the landlord has not already stated their reasons in writing for making a claim to the security deposit they must provide them in writing. These reasons will be passed on to the tenant.
The hearing officer hears the evidence from both sides and decides what should happen with the security deposit. If the landlord did not pay the security deposit to the ORT as required, the ORT can order the landlord to return the security deposit to the tenant without hearing from the landlord. They can also require that rent from other tenants of the landlord be paid to the ORT and used to pay the security deposit to the tenant.
If the landlord has not returned the deposit or made a claim within seven business days, the tenant can make their own application for return of their security deposit. Tenants have up to two years after the tenancy ends to dispute the landlord's claim or make their own application for return of their security deposit.
Notice by Landlord
In some situations a landlord can require a tenant to move out. Sometimes a tenant must be given a period of time to move out and in other cases the landlord can insist that the tenant leave immediately. In all cases the landlord must serve notice on the tenant to end the tenancy. This notice can be given to the tenant in-person or posted on the door of the rental unit and either mailed or sent by electronic means.
The notice must be in the approved form. It must...
- be dated
- show that it comes from the landlord
- give the address of the rental unit
- state the date the tenancy will end
- state the grounds for ending the tenancy
If a tenant is 15 days or more late with the rent the landlord can end the tenancy immediately. A landlord cannot end a tenancy for non-payment of rent if the tenant's obligation to pay rent is suspended. If the tenant is responsible for paying the utilities and they are late, the landlord can also end the tenancy. In this case the landlord must notify the tenant that the payments are late and give the tenant 15 days to pay them.
To end the tenancy immediately the landlord must serve notice on the tenant. The notice can be...
- served in person
- posted on the front door of the premises and sent by ordinary or registered mail or sent electronically
(“Electronically” means text, email or other digital means, as long as the tenant can read the notice and save it for future reference)
One Month's Notice
In some situations, the landlord can give the tenant notice to move out.
The landlord can give one full month's notice if...
- the security deposit remains unpaid for more than 30 days after it is due
- the tenant is repeatedly late paying rent
- an unreasonable number of occupants are living in the rental unit
- the tenant or tenant's guest disturbs or jeopardizes the health or safety of others living around them or the landlord
- the tenant or guest puts the landlord's property at significant risk
- the tenant or guest engages in a noxious, offensive or illegal act on the property that may cause damage to the property
- the tenant or guest affects the privacy rights or safety of others living nearby or the landlord
- the tenant or guest causes extraordinary damage to the rental unit
- the tenant fails to repair their damages to the rental unit after being given notice and a reasonable amount of time to do the repairs
- the tenant repeatedly breaks the landlord's rules (rules must be reasonable, in writing, and the tenant must be told about them)
- the tenant breaches a material provision of the tenancy agreement and, after being given notice and an opportunity, the breach is not remedied
- the tenant assigns the tenancy agreement or sublets the rental unit without the landlord's written consent
- the tenant gives false information about the rental unit to prospective renters or purchasers
- the tenant does not comply with an order from the ORT
- the tenant lives in an owner-occupied home and the tenant or tenant's guest continues to smoke when requested not to smoke
- it is required to comply with any order of a government
- there is a breach of a necessary term for a public social housing landlord
- the landlord is going to use the rental unit for social housing and the tenant is not eligible for social housing
- the landlord is going to use the rental unit for social housing and the tenant is occupying a unit that exceeds their housing needs
- the tenant breaches a municipal bylaw or fails to pay a municipal charge that could result in the landlord owing more property taxes
- the tenancy agreement is not a lease, the rental unit is being sold and the purchaser or the purchaser's close family or friend is going to move in
- there is a reason judged proper by a hearing officer at the ORT
- the tenant works for the landlord and lives in a place provided by the landlord for employees and the tenant quits or is fired
Notice to end a tenancy in these situations must be in writing and must be given to the tenant on the day before the rent is due, one full month before the tenant is expected to move out. For example, if rent is due on April 1 and the landlord wants the tenant to move out by April 30 the notice must be given by March 31. The landlord must first give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to correct the situation, if possible. The tenant may dispute the notice to the landlord within 15 days; otherwise the tenant is deemed to have accepted the notice and must move out in accordance with the notice.
Two Months' Notice
A landlord can end a tenancy with two months' notice in certain situations. A landlord cannot give this kind of notice if the tenant has a lease.
The landlord can give two months' notice if they, a close family member or a friend are going to move into the rental unit. The landlord can also give two months' notice if they are going to...
- demolish, renovate or repair the property
- convert the property to condominiums, a housing co-op or a non-residential use
- convert the rental unit for a property manager, caretaker or superintendent to live in
The notice must be given by the day before the rent is due, two months ahead of when the landlord wants the tenant to move out. The tenant can dispute the notice to vacate by signing the dispute portion of the notice and giving it to the landlord within 15 days. If the tenant does not dispute the notice within this time period they are deemed to have accepted the notice and must vacate the property by the date indicated in the notice.
Once the notice has been served by the landlord, the tenant can end the tenancy earlier by giving the landlord 10 days written notice. If a landlord doesn't move forward with their plans for the property within a reasonable time they can be held liable for damages. They can also be held liable if the rental unit is not used for the identified purpose for at least six months.
A landlord can apply for an order of possession if a...
- tenant or landlord has given notice to end the tenancy
- tenant and landlord have agreed in writing to end the tenancy
- tenant is renting for a fixed term
If an order for possession is granted it will take effect on the date set out in the order. That date can be before the tenancy would normally end.
If a landlord has given the tenant a one-month notice to vacate for cause, the landlord can apply for an order of possession to end the tenancy before the notice period has passed. The landlord can do this if it would be unreasonable for the landlord to wait until the end of the notice period and the tenant or a guest of the tenant has...
- unreasonably disturbed or significantly interfered with other tenants, neighbours or the landlord
- seriously jeopardized the health, safety or lawful right or interest of other tenants, neighbours or the landlord
- put the landlord's property at significant risk
- engaged in noxious, offensive or illegal activity that has...
- damaged or is likely to damage the landlord's property
- adversely affected or is likely to adversely affect the quiet enjoyment, security, safety or physical wellbeing of another tenant, neighbour or the landlord
- jeopardized or is likely to jeopardize the lawful right or interest of another tenant, neighbour or the landlord
Where a landlord makes an application for possession, a tenant can ask the ORT not to grant the order if the landlord...
- gave the notice because the tenant made a fair complaint to an authority or was trying to secure their rights
- has breached their agreement or any standard condition
- has increased the rent in order to end the tenancy
A landlord can enforce an order for possession by taking a copy of the order and the original writ to the Sheriff's office. The Sheriff decides the most appropriate way to return control of the rental unit to the landlord. This might be posting a notice on the door or asking the tenant to leave and changing the locks. The tenant must then contact the landlord to arrange to get their belongings.
Problems can come up between landlords and tenants. Most of the time landlords and tenants can talk to each other and settle problems in a quick and friendly manner - landlords carry out repairs when asked; tenants turn down loud music when asked. Sometimes a landlord and tenant are able to agree on a solution to a problem. For instance, if the landlord does not do regular upkeep on the premises, the tenant might propose doing some of the work for a reduction in rent. A tenant may be able to persuade the landlord to accept a little less than a month's notice of moving out. A landlord might accept a late rent payment from a long-term tenant who generally pays the rent on time. By talking over a problem or making suggestions in a letter, the landlord and tenant may agree on a solution. The landlord and tenant can also try to come to an agreement with the help of a third party, such as a mediator.
Sometimes the problems can't be resolved. A tenant may not pay rent and refuse to move out. A landlord and tenant might disagree about who is responsible for repairing a broken window. The tenant may claim that the landlord did not give proper notice of a rent increase. If the tenant and landlord cannot agree, either one can ask the ORT to make an order to solve the problem.
Claims must be made within 2 years. The ORT can deal with any type of dispute about the rental agreement. The maximum that can be awarded is currently $30,000. Claims over $30,000 can be dealt with by the ORT if the applicant is willing to waive any claim over $30,000. If a party wants to claim more than the $30,000 they would have to go to the Court of Queen's Bench.
Before applying for an order, you may wish to search past decisions of the ORT to see if they may provide you with some guidance about how a hearing officer may rule on an issue. You might share links to one or more decisions with the other party as a means of persuading them to settle and avoid the need to go through the hearing process. You can search past decisions at www.canlii.org/en/sk/skort.
Applying for an Order
A tenant or a landlord can apply for an order from the ORT to resolve a dispute.
- The landlord or tenant applies in writing and pays an application fee. The person applying for an order is called the applicant.
- The ORT provides a form for the notice of hearing. The applicant must complete the notice of hearing by writing out their claim on the notice so that the other party will know what the applicant is claiming and what they want.
- Inquiry clerks at the Saskatoon and Regina offices of the ORT are available to answer questions and help landlords and tenants fill out applications for hearings.
- The ORT will tell the applicant when and where the hearing will be. Hearings are regularly held in Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert, North Battleford, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Swift Current, Estevan and Weyburn.
The applicant must give copies of the completed notice of hearing to all persons involved. Instructions regarding serving the notice of hearing are on the back of the notice of hearing. It is important to make sure all the people involved know about the hearing. If a party did not know about the hearing they can ask for another hearing even if an order has already been made.
The landlord and tenant gather their own evidence to support their claims. The ORT can investigate a dispute, but is not required to do so and usually does not. Hearings are usually conducted in‑person, but they can be scheduled to be heard by telephone or other electronic means.
The applicant should bring evidence to prove their case at the hearing. For example, if the landlord wants to keep the security deposit, they must prove that the place was left unclean or damaged and that they followed the rules for dealing with the security deposit. One way of proving this is to bring the checklists that were filled in when the tenant moved in and out. Photographs can show the condition of the rental unit. Witnesses such as caretakers or cleaning crews can describe the condition of the rental unit. The hearing officer can question any witness as well as the other party. It is important to come prepared to present your case. Hearings are your one and only opportunity to present evidence for consideration.
Getting an Order
After the hearing, a hearing officer makes a written decision. The hearing officer can make any order that they think is fair in the circumstances. If the application is made to the Court of Queen's Bench, the Court can make the same kind of orders as the Office of Residential Tenancies.
The ORT or the Court of Queen's Bench can make an order...
- directing the landlord or tenant to follow the requirements of The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006
- giving the landlord possession of the rental unit
- ruling on whether there was proper notice of a rent increase
- reducing the tenant's rent
- setting the amount of repair or cleaning costs and ordering the person responsible to pay the cost
- requiring the tenant to pay the amount of rent owing to the landlord
- requiring the landlord or tenant to pay damages
- determining how the security deposit is to be dealt with
This is not a complete list of the orders the ORT can make. The ORT or the Court gives each person a copy of the order.
Appealing an Order
Sometimes a person who believes an order is wrong or unfair can appeal. A person can appeal on a "mistake of law" or "mistake of jurisdiction." These reasons are complicated. A person who is unsure whether a certain decision can be appealed can ask the ORT or a lawyer. A person cannot appeal just because the ORT or the Court believed one person's evidence instead of the other person.
A person has 30 days from the date of the ORT's order to appeal. They may be given extra time if they can show that they did not receive the order in a timely manner. The appeal is made to the Court of Queen's Bench. If the Court of Queen's Bench made the decision, a person appeals to the Court of Appeal. The appeal must be made within 30 days and the person may need permission from the Court of Appeal.
To appeal an eviction for being more than 15 days late with the rent, the tenant may have to prove the rent was paid or deposit the amount of one-half of one month's rent with the court.
No one can act on the order of the ORT or the Court of Queen's Bench until...
- 30 days have passed, or
- any appeal that a landlord or tenant made has been decided.
For example, if the ORT makes an order for payment of rent, the landlord cannot enforce it until 30 days have passed or until any appeal is decided. An order for possession is an exception. The Sheriff posts the order of possession immediately at the rental unit. Unless the tenant appeals within the time given, for example 48 hours, the Sheriff will remove the tenant at the end of this time.
Enforcing an Order
An order of the ORT or Court of Queen's Bench will require the landlord or tenant to do something. The order may require someone to pay money, to make repairs or to move out. In most cases the person follows the order. If not, the other person can take steps to enforce the order.
Sometimes the ORT's order requires someone to pay money. If no one has appealed, and 30 days have passed since the order was made, the person with the order can take a certified copy of the order to the Registrar of the Court of Queen's Bench. The person can get a certified copy from the ORT.
The order can be enforced in the same way as any judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench. The party with the judgment can collect by having the Sheriff seize the other party's assets. Assets could include things such as money in a bank account, wages, or something like a car or boat.
The Sheriff's Office is in charge of the seizure process. The party trying to have the order enforced must pay a fee. The fee will be added to the amount owing under the order and, if collected, can be paid back to the person who paid the fee in the first place. The ORT or the Registrar's Office of the Court of Queen's Bench may provide some basic information about enforcing an order. For more information, see PLEA's booklet Debts and Credit and the Saskatchewan Law Courts website.
Sometimes the order requires some action other than the payment of money. For example, the landlord may be ordered to release the tenant's possessions. In such cases the tenant can make a complaint at a police station if the landlord does not follow the order. It is an offence not to follow an order from the ORT. Such a complaint must be made within one year of the date of the order. If the police charge the landlord, an Information will be sworn and the landlord must appear in court. The court can sentence the landlord if they are convicted or plead guilty.
Office of Residential Tenancies
Toll Free Phone: 1-888-215-2222 (Saskatchewan only)
Toll Free Fax: 1-888-867-7776 (Saskatchewan only)
Sturdy Stone Building
105-122 3rd Avenue North
Saskatoon SK S7K 2H6
304-1855 Victoria Avenue
Regina SK S4P 3T2
An independent agency that provides information about the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in Saskatchewan. When landlords and tenants cannot resolve disputes on their own, both have the right to ask the ORT to make rulings and settle the dispute.
Past decisions of hearing officers are published online and can be searched at www.canlii.org/en/sk/skort.
Saskatchewan Landlord Association (SLA)
Provincial organization representing over 40,000 rental units across the province; also provides assistance to renters facing significant rent increases through the TAP process. For more information call 306-653-7149.
Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission
Toll Free Phone: 1-800-667-9249
Sturdy Stone Building
816-122 3rd Avenue North
Saskatoon SK S7K 2H6
The agency that receives, investigates and makes decisions about human rights complaints.
Court of Queen's Bench/Small Claims Court
To find the nearest Small Claims Court, Court of Queen's Bench or Sheriff's Office, look in the blue pages of the phone book under "Courts" or visit the Courts of Saskatchewan website listed above.
Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan
PLEA has booklets with general legal information on topics such as enforcing orders and taking matters to Small Claims Court.ISBN/ISSN number: 1208-3275