Last Updated: July 24, 2014
Many people rent places to live. This booklet reviews the legal rights and duties of tenants and landlords in Saskatchewan and provides information about resolving disputes. 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 for help.
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 deals with the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in most residential situations and makes certain rights and duties part of every rental agreement. (*Please note that new laws to amend The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 came into effect July 1, 2015. Changes include provisions dealing with a landlord’s right to make reasonable rules, return of a security deposit, entry of a rental unit by a landlord to show the premises, grounds for eviction, and rules for service of documents. Please see this Ministry of Justice summary of the important changes.) Landlords and tenants might never talk about The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 but the standard conditions set out under the Act are still part of every rental agreement. A landlord and a tenant cannot agree that the Act or any parts of it will not apply. That kind of agreement cannot be enforced. 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.
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 applies to almost all situations where living accommodations 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 or where a farm acreage is rented out to the person who is farming the land.
It also does not apply to a number of temporary accommodations 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. It does not apply to residences rented out 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).
Certain other laws 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.
Renting a Place
Finding a Place to Live
Finding a place to rent can be time-consuming. People can find suggestions about places for rent 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
- 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 it 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 to the terms of the tenancy agreement.
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.
Discrimination based on a person's ancestry, race, perceived race, nationality, place of origin, religion, creed, disability, sex, sexual orientation, age (over 18), family status, marital status, or because the person is receiving social assistance is against the law. The law does allow rental accommodations to be designated exclusively for people over the age of 55 years. For more information about protection from discrimination in housing, contact the nearest office of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (see the blue pages of the phone book under Government of Saskatchewan or visit saskatchewanhumanrights.ca/).
|Many parts of The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 refer to different types of notices and applications. Some of the more common notices and applications referred to in this publication are indicated by a * symbol. Related forms and samples can be accessed online at www.Saskatchewan.ca/ort under Approved Forms and Sample Documents and Certificates of Service.|
The Government of Saskatchewan provides a number of services that impact housing affordability, ranging from things like rent subsidies and income assistance to affordable housing options provided through local housing authorities. For a complete inventory of programs and initiatives, visit www.socialservices.gov.sk.ca/housing.
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 refers to an agreement between a landlord and a tenant as a tenancy agreement. Another term for it is a rental agreement.
The rental agreement between a landlord and a tenant can be oral, written, or understood from the circumstances. Sometimes it is informal; sometimes it is more formal with several contractual terms and conditions.
A landlord and a tenant can agree on a wide variety of terms and conditions but the law sets out standard conditions* that are part of every rental agreement. These standard conditions highlight some important requirements of The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 but other requirements in the Act, not included in the standard conditions, still apply. A landlord and tenant cannot agree to change any of the standard conditions or to have certain requirements in the Act not apply.
If a landlord and tenant have a written agreement, The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 requires certain information to be included in the written agreement. The agreement must include the...
- standard conditions
- correct legal names of the parties and address of the property
- date the agreement was made
- address for service and telephone number of the landlord or agent and/or 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 varies with the number of occupants (if so, by how much)
- amount of any security deposit and when it is to be paid
The written agreement must also specify 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 obligation to pay rent is suspended until such time as the written agreement is provided. Putting the rental agreement into writing is one way to prevent disagreements between landlords and tenants later on.
Even when the rental agreement is not in writing it is a legal contract and all the standard conditions and other requirements of the Act apply. In these cases the landlord is still required to give service and emergency addresses and telephone numbers, in writing, to the tenant within 20 days of when the tenancy begins. If the contacts are not provided, the tenant's obligation to pay rent is suspended. The Office of Residential Tenancies recommends that landlords also provide tenants with a copy of the standard conditions even when the rental agreement is not in writing.
Rental agreements may be 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.
A lease may also be ended early by a landlord if the tenant does not pay rent or the landlord gives notice on one of the grounds outlined in the Act. A lease can be ended early by a tenant if the landlord breaches an important part of the lease agreement. Otherwise the landlord or tenant can only end the lease in the way set out in the rental agreement or by agreement.
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 restrictions or conditions in the rental agreement, such as...
- no pets
- no smoking
- maximum number of tenants
- extra fee for pets, NSF cheques or late rent payments
A tenant who doesn't like some conditions of the rental agreement can try to negotiate more favourable conditions before they sign the agreement. Once an agreement has been signed it can only be changed with the agreement of both the tenant and the landlord. The only exception is that a landlord can give notice to increase rent for a month to month tenancy. For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord can only increase the rent if the rental agreement provides for a rent increase.
Once a rental agreement has been entered into both parties are bound by it even if the tenant does not move into the premises. This means that a tenant would still be responsible to pay rent even if they changed their mind and did not move in. If a tenant has entered into a rental agreement and is not allowed to move in, the tenant can apply to the Office of Residential Tenancies for an order of possession. If either party breaches the agreement they can be held responsible for loss or damages the other party suffers because the agreement was breached.
If there is a new owner, they are governed by the existing lease and cannot change or add terms without the agreement of the tenant.
Checking over the Residential Premises
A tenant has the right to move in and look over the residential premises carefully. A tenant can refuse to make a written or oral statement that the residential premises and fixtures are in a good state of repair if this is not the case.
Many landlords have a checklist on which 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 Office of Residential Tenancies. 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 premises or it can help a landlord prove that damage occurred during the tenancy.
Sometimes a tenant only notices some 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 can 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
A landlord can ask a tenant to pay a security deposit. A security deposit is an amount of money the landlord holds as security for damage or cleaning costs, unpaid rent or any other loss caused by the tenant. Many people call it a damage deposit. Landlords may require a security deposit 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 at the date the tenancy agreement is entered into. 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.
A security deposit can only be requested at the beginning of a tenancy, unless Social Services had previously guaranteed the security deposit and then removed the guarantee. In this case a landlord may request a security deposit from the tenant during their tenancy. 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. If the tenancy lasts five years or more the tenant is also entitled to interest on the deposit calculated in accordance with the Act.
A Word about Roommates
Sometimes several people decide to rent a place together. Sharing accommodation with friends, co-workers or fellow students can help keep rental costs down, expand social circles and add a sense of security for some renters. Having a roommate can also mean less privacy and may involve disputes about lifestyle choices, division of chores and unpaid rent. It is important to note that The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 does not cover issues between roommates and the Office of Residential Tenancies does not deal with disputes between roommates or co-tenants.
Generally speaking, even when all occupants sign a rental agreement, a landlord can enforce any obligations of the tenants against any or all of them. This means that one tenant can end up on the hook for the entire rent regardless of whether they have already paid their share, in addition to the entire damage deposit or repair costs regardless of which tenant - or guest - caused the damage. On the other hand, when only one tenant signs the rental agreement, roommates of the tenant have very little recourse if the tenant wants their roommates to vacate or wants to change the terms of the arrangement without any consultation.
Co-tenants and roommates may want to think about drawing up an agreement between themselves. 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. In the event that a dispute still arises and cannot otherwise be resolved, co-tenants and roommates may have to consider taking the matter to Small Claims Court. A written agreement between the parties, along with other evidence, can help establish a claim should the matter end up in court.
When deciding on roommates, tenants should also be aware that a landlord can end the tenancy, with one full month's notice, if an unreasonable number of people are occupying rented premises.
Living in a Rented Place
Paying the Rent
A landlord can only ask a tenant to pay the amount of rent that is due. For example, if rent is due monthly, the landlord can only require the tenant to pay one month's rent at a time. A landlord can require post-dated cheques. A rental agreement cannot make rent owing for the remainder of a tenancy due and payable because a tenant has breached the rental agreement.
Generally, a tenant must pay rent when it is due whether or not the landlord has complied with The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006. There are some situations where a tenant's obligation to pay rent is suspended. One of these situations is if a copy of a written rental agreement is not provided to the tenant within 20 days, or, in the case of verbal or implied agreements, when service and emergency contact information is not provided by the landlord to the tenant. Another situation is where the landlord requests or accepts more than one-month's rent for a security deposit. In this case the tenant can deduct the overpayment from the rent.
Unless the tenant and the landlord agree otherwise, the rent is sent to the contact address provided in the written agreement or, in the case of a verbal or implied agreement, to the address provided by the landlord. The landlord must give the tenant a receipt for rent paid in cash. Tenants should never provide a cash payment unless they receive proof of payment at the time the payment is made.
The rules regarding rental increases differ between periodic and fixed term rental agreements. If the rental agreement is for a fixed term, rent increases must be agreed to at the time the lease is entered into. Both the amount and the timing of the increase must be detailed.
If the term of the rental agreement is periodic - such as week to week or month to month - a landlord who is not a member of an approved landlord association must give notice of any rent increase* at least twelve months before the increase is to come into effect. Landlords who are members of an approved landlord association - and in good standing - must give notice at least six months before the increase is to come into effect. SLA, the Saskatchewan Landlords Association, is such an approved landlord association.
Like all other landlords, the operator of a mobile home park must give at least 12 months' notice of a rental increase unless they are a member in good standing of an approved landlord association.
Any notice that is not served in time takes effect on the next possible date. If proper notice is not given, any excess rent paid may be returned to the tenant at the discretion of the Office of Residential Tenancies. There can be no 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 months' notice. Leases or rental agreements for public or subsidized housing provided by local housing authorities usually set out different requirements for notice of rent increases. If the tenant's income increases, the rent will usually increase at the beginning of a new term or year. Usually the lease requires the housing authority to give one month's notice of such an increase.|
A landlord can charge more for additional occupants and this is not considered a rent increase. However, if the rent varies depending on the number of occupants, a written tenancy agreement must indicate the amount it can vary.
When a landlord provides any services, fixtures or appliances with the premises, they may not later impose a charge or increase the charge for these things or take these things away. 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 can only increase charges or reduce or discontinue services or facilities with the agreement of the tenant or with an order from the Office of Residential Tenancies.
Assistance Dealing with Significant Rent Increases
The Saskatchewan Landlords Association (SLA) operates a program designed to assist tenants facing significant rent increases that they are unable to afford. Through the Tenant Assistance Process (TAP), a panel can review the rent increase and try to work out a solution that is agreeable to the tenant and the landlord. TAP can also try to help the tenant find alternate housing options. Tenants may also consider contacting their local Housing Authority to learn more about eligibility and availability of subsidized housing.
Tenant's Right to Quiet Enjoyment
A tenant has a right to live in premises that are safe and fit to live in. If a tenant has concerns they may want to check requirements under municipal building and fire codes and local health regulations.
A tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment of the rented premises. 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 must not take any of the tenant's personal property or restrict the tenant's access to their property unless the landlord has an order allowing this.
A landlord cannot restrict the tenant or someone the tenant has authorized to visit from accessing the rented premises. A landlord also cannot restrict access by a candidate, or an authorized representative of a candidate, during a federal, provincial or municipal election.
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 rental units unless both agree to it. If the landlord changes the locks or other access to the property the tenant must be provided with new keys or other means of access. The landlord can change the locks for access to common areas, without the tenants' consent, provided the tenants are given new keys or other means of access.
Landlord's Right of Access
A landlord can enter only under certain conditions specified in the Act. These include...
- when the tenant has given permission to the landlord, either at the time of entry or within the past seven days
- if there is an emergency and the landlord must enter to protect life or property
- if the tenant reasonably appears to have abandoned the rental unit*
A landlord can also give written notice to enter*. The notice must state the time and date of the entry and the purpose of the landlord entering. The time for the entry in the notice must not cover more than a four-hour period and the four-hour period must be between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., unless the tenant otherwise agrees. The purpose of the entry must be reasonable. 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 and the landlord wants to enter to show the rental unit to a prospective tenant. In this case the landlord only has to give the tenant two-hours' notice. The two hour notice can be given to the tenant directly or can be given by phone or email if the tenant has supplied this information to the landlord. If the tenant has not given the landlord a contact phone number or email address, or if the landlord cannot reach the tenant by phone or email, after reasonable attempts, the landlord can enter and leave a notice on the door stating that the landlord has entered the premises to show them to a prospective tenant. The landlord can only enter between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and cannot enter on Sunday or a day of religious worship for the tenant.
If the landlord wants to show the rental unit to a prospective purchaser of the property, the landlord must give 24 hours' notice or have the consent of the tenant.
Cleaning and Repairs
Tenants and landlords are each responsible for certain cleaning and repairs. Tenants may wish to consider carrying general liability insurance and insurance on their personal belongings, usually as part of a tenant package policy, to cover other risks.
A tenant must...
- do the ordinary cleaning of the residential premises (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
- maintain reasonable health, cleanliness and sanitary standards throughout the rented premises
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 give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to remedy the situation before ending the tenancy. A tenant does not have to make repairs required because of reasonable wear and tear on the premises.
A landlord must...
- maintain the rented premises in a good state of repair and fit for the use and enjoyment of the tenant, even if a tenant knew the residential premises needed repairs when they rented the property and regardless of whether the repairs are required because of ordinary wear and tear or any other cause
- look after a yard that a number of 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 areas of the building set aside for the common use of all the tenants (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)
Landlords must tell a tenant, in writing, whether they are willing to renew a lease at least two months before the end of the lease. This notice period gives the parties a chance to discuss future plans before a term 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. It is important to note that a landlord may withdraw an offer of renewal at any time before it is accepted.
There are a number of ways that a tenancy can end. A rental agreement that is for a fixed term, and not renewed, will end on the date specified in the agreement. A tenancy can also end when the required notice has been given, or if the landlord and tenant agree in writing. A tenancy may also end if the tenant vacates or abandons the premises or if circumstances beyond the control of the parties make the premises uninhabitable. As well, the Office of Residential Tenancies can make an order ending a tenancy.
Tenants are required to leave the rented premises reasonably clean and undamaged, except for reasonable wear and tear. Tenants must return all keys or other means of access to the landlord. If the tenant leaves personal property in the rented premises, the landlord must apply for an order to deal with this property if the tenant cannot be located or, after being located, has not made reasonable arrangements to deal with the property. An order can be made authorizing the landlord to dispose of the property without any notice to the tenant. The landlord can then use the proceeds to pay money owing under the rental agreement and pay the rest, if any, to the Office of Residential Tenancies.
Assigning or Subletting
If a tenant no longer wants to occupy the premises and wants to assign the tenancy or sublet leased premises, the written consent of the landlord is required. The landlord must not withhold consent unreasonably. A landlord can charge a fee of not more than $20 for considering, investigating or consenting to an assignment or a sublet. Unless the landlord agrees to release the original tenant from the tenancy agreement, the original tenant is ultimately responsible to the landlord for all obligations under their tenancy agreement. Tenants who are considering subletting their rented premises should be aware of the risks and take steps to protect themselves.
A notice to end a tenancy must be in writing and include the name of the person giving the notice, the address of the rented premises, the date the tenancy will end and, if required, the grounds for ending the tenancy. Acceptable grounds for ending a tenancy are set out in The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 and discussed below. If the notice is not served far enough in advance to give the time required by the Act, it will take effect on the next possible date. Regardless of the requirements for notice, a landlord and tenant may agree when a tenancy will end, or may waive some or all of the period of notice.
Notice by Tenant
A term lease commits a tenant to renting for the full term of the lease. The tenant cannot simply give notice to end the lease early unless the landlord agrees.
Most periodic tenancies can be ended by giving one full month's written notice to the landlord. In the case of a weekly tenancy, only one full week's written notice is required. 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.
Notice for Cause
If the landlord breaches a material part of the rental agreement a tenant can give immediate notice to end a rental agreement, even if a lease has been signed. 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.
Notice by Landlord
If rent is unpaid for 15 or more days after it is due, a landlord can end the tenancy immediately by serving written notice on the tenant*. However, if the tenant's obligation to pay rent was suspended as provided under the Act, the notice has no effect. If the tenant is responsible for paying the utilities and they are late, the landlord can give the tenant immediate notice to vacate* 15 days after the landlord notifies the tenant that the utility payments are late.
The notice can be served on the tenant in person or it can be posted on the front door of the premises and sent by ordinary or registered mail. The notice may also be served electronically, for example by email, provided that the contents are accessible to the tenant and are capable of being saved for future reference.
One Month's Notice
In some situations the landlord can give the tenant notice that does not take effect immediately*.
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 property
- the tenant fails to repair their damages to the rental unit after being given notice and a reasonable amount of time to do the repair
- the tenant breaches a material provision of the agreement and, after being given notice and opportunity, the breach is not remedied
- the tenant assigns the rental agreement or sublets the rental unit without the landlord's written consent
- the tenant gives false information about the rental property to prospective renters or purchasers
- the tenant does not comply with an order from the Office of Residential Tenancies
- 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
- there is a reason judged proper by the Office of Residential Tenancies
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. 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.
There are two other special situations that also require one full calendar months' notice for termination of a tenancy.
Sometimes an employer provides or rents premises to an employee for their use while they work for that employer. This can include situations where someone is a caretaker or manager of a building as well as other situations. In these cases where the employment is ended, the landlord can give one month's notice for the tenant to vacate*. The notice must be given by the day before the rent is due. 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 employee may dispute the notice by giving written notice* to the landlord within 15 days. Otherwise they are deemed to have accepted the notice and must move out by the date indicated.
Family Occupation, Sale, Demolition, Renovation or Conversion to Condominium
A landlord may terminate a tenancy that is not for a fixed term if they intend...
- that a close family member or friend will live in the property
- to sell, demolish, renovate or repair the property
- to convert the property to condominiums or a housing co‑op or to non-residential use
In these circumstances the landlord must give one month's notice* and it must be given by the day before the rent is due. The tenant can dispute the termination within 15 days by giving written notice to the landlord, otherwise they are deemed to have accepted the notice and must vacate the property by the date indicated. The tenant can end the tenancy earlier by giving the landlord 10 days written notice. A landlord can be held liable for damages if steps are not taken to accomplish the purpose for which notice was given in a reasonable period of time or the rental premises are not used for the identified purpose for at least six months.
Order of Possession by Landlord
If the landlord has served proper notice to end the tenancy and the tenant does not leave, the landlord can apply for an order of possession.
A landlord can also apply for an order of possession to end the tenancy before one month has passed 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, or
- 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 Office of Residential Tenancies not to grant an 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 premises 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.
Return of Security Deposit
At the end of a rental agreement the landlord has seven business days to...
- return the deposit with interest to the tenant, or
- serve notice* on the tenant of their intention to keep all or part of the deposit and interest - provided that the tenant or someone acting on their behalf has provided a forwarding address to the landlord - and continue to hold the security deposit or portion they intend to keep plus accrued interest in trust for 30 days from the end of the rental agreement, or
- have the tenant agree in writing that the landlord can keep part or all of the security deposit and interest
If the tenant has not provided a forwarding address to the landlord, the landlord is not obligated to give notice of their claim against the security deposit.
If the tenant disputes a landlord's claim to keep any or all of the security deposit, the tenant simply endorses the dispute notice on the claim and forwards it to the Office of Residential Tenancies. The tenant must do so within 120 days of the end of the tenancy. The Office will set a date to hear the dispute. Upon receiving notice of the hearing, the landlord must pay the security deposit and interest to the Office within 10 business days. The landlord must also outline the basis for claiming the security deposit or portion of it, which will be passed on to the tenant.
If the landlord files the disputed security deposit and notice of claim to the security deposit within the required time, a hearing is held and the hearing officer can make an order directing payment of the security deposit to the landlord on account of any claims proven at the hearing. The balance, if any, will be paid to the tenant. If the landlord doesn't follow these rules, the tenant may apply to the Office of Residential Tenancies for an order directing the return of the security deposit. The order may be granted without hearing from the landlord. The landlord may also apply for an order directing payment of damages not covered by the security deposit.
The landlord will get a copy of the order. The Office can order another tenant of the landlord to give their rent to the Office instead of the landlord and this money can be used to refund any security deposit owing to the tenant.
Problems can come up between landlords and tenants. Most landlords and tenants are reasonable, talk to each other and settle problems in a quick and friendly manner. Landlords carry out repairs. Tenants turn down loud music. 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.
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 satisfactory solution. The landlord and tenant can also try to come to an agreement with the help of a third party, such as a mediator.
If the tenant and landlord cannot agree, either one can ask the Office of Residential Tenancies to make an order to solve the problem. The Office of Residential Tenancies can deal with any type of dispute about the rental agreement, however the maximum that can be awarded is governed by the monetary limit under The Small Claims Act, 1997. Currently that limit is $20,000. Claims over $20,000 can be dealt with by the Office of Residential Tenancies if the applicant is willing to waive any claim over $20,000. If a party wants to claim more than the $20,000 they would have to go to the Court of Queen's Bench.
Applying for an Order from the Office of Residential Tenancies
When a tenant or a landlord wants to get an order from the Office of Residential Tenancies the steps are as follows...
- The landlord or tenant applies in writing* and pays an application fee. The person applying for an order is called the applicant.
- The Office of Residential Tenancies 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. The applicant must give copies of the completed notice of hearing to all persons involved. Instructions regarding serving the notice of hearing are copied on the back of the notice of hearing.
- Inquiry clerks at the Saskatoon and Regina offices of the Office of Residential Tenancies are available to answer questions and help landlords and tenants fill out applications for hearings.
- The landlord and tenant gather their own evidence to support their claims. The Office of Residential Tenancies can investigate a dispute, but is not required to do so and usually does not.
- The Office of Residential Tenancies 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 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 residence was left unclean or damaged at the end of the tenancy 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. Witnesses such as caretakers or cleaning crews can describe the condition of the residence. Photographs can show the condition of premises.
The applicant can present their side in person, in writing or by telephone. When the applicant gives evidence in person, the Office of Residential Tenancies and the other person can ask questions. Attending the hearing in person allows the chance to hear and reply to the other side's case. This is usually the best way to present a claim. An applicant might choose to present their side in writing or by telephone if the hearing location is far away. The other side can also present their side at the hearing in person, in writing or by telephone.
It is important to come prepared to present your case. Hearings are your one and only opportunity to present evidence for consideration. Detailed information about preparing for a hearing is available at www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/housing-and-renting/renting-and-leasing/resolving-a-tenancy-dispute.
Getting an Order
After the hearing, a hearing officer makes a written decision on the application. 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 Office of Residential Tenancies 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 premises
- 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 Office of Residential Tenancies can make. The Office of Residential Tenancies 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 if a certain decision can be appealed can ask the Office of Residential Tenancies or a lawyer. A person cannot appeal merely because the Office of Residential Tenancies or the Court believed one person's evidence instead of the other person.
A person has 30 days from the date of the Office of Residential Tenancies' order to appeal. 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.
No one can act on the order of the Office of Residential Tenancies 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 Office of Residential Tenancies makes an order for payment of rent, the landlord cannot enforce it until 30 days have passed or until any appeal is decided. The order for possession is an exception. The Sheriff posts the order of possession immediately at the residential premises. 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 Office of Residential Tenancies 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 Office of Residential Tenancies' 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 Office of Residential Tenancies.
The order can be enforced in the same way as any judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench. One way to enforce an order is to garnishee a person's wages or bank account. Another way to enforce an order is through a writ of execution. A writ of execution allows the Sheriff to seize and sell the person's property. The Office of Residential Tenancies 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 at www.sasklawcourts.ca.
Sometimes the order requires some action other than the payment of money. For example, it could order the landlord 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 to not follow the Office of Residential Tenancies' order. 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)
Out of Province Callers: 1-306-787-2699
Main Floor, Sturdy Stone Building
122 3rd Avenue North
Saskatoon SK S7K 2H6
120-2151 Scarth Street
Regina SK S4P 2H8
Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission
Toll Free Phone: 1-800-667-9249
8th Floor, Sturdy Stone Building
122 3rd Avenue North
Saskatoon SK S7K 2H6
301-1942 Hamilton Street
Regina SK S4P 2C5
For information about social housing call 1-800-667-7567.
For information about the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement call 1-888-488-6385 or 306-787-4723 in Regina.
Saskatchewan Landlords Association (SLA)
Provincial organization representing over 18,000 rental units across the province; also provides assistance to renters facing significant rent increases through the TAP program. For more information call 306-653-7149.
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