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Cost of Renting

Following the rules about how rent should be paid can prevent future troubles. Knowing what the law says about rent increases will help you know if the landlord can increase your rent.

Paying Rent

Covid-19

With Covid-19 related closures, many people across the province are out of work or working reduced hours. Although there is a variety of available financial aid, many renters are struggling to make ends meet. It is important to understand that rent remains payable on the same terms as those set out in your rental agreement.

Individuals may be confused about this issue because the provincial government has announced that the Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) is not accepting applications for evictions related to unpaid rent or other non-urgent claims while the current state of emergency is in effect. However, once that state of emergency is over, landlords will be able to take steps to evict tenants for any rent that is more than 15 days overdue. More information about evictions is available here.

The Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) encourages tenants to talk to their landlord about their personal circumstances. It may be possible to come to a temporary agreement that works for both parties. Tenants receiving Social Assistance payments must use it to pay rent when it is due.

Limited financial assistance, for things such as rent, may be available for individuals that are required to self-isolate. For more information visit the Self-Isolation Support Program page on the Government of Saskatchewan's website.

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, even if a tenant breaches the rental agreement. Similarly, a tenant must generally pay rent when it is due even if the landlord has not done what is required by the law.

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.

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 Increases

While some jurisdictions have put a freeze on rent increases due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the rules in Saskatchewan relating to rent increases remain unchanged. Although not required, landlords may choose to work together with tenants to reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both parties given the current economic situation.

If you are facing a significant rent increase, The Tenant Assistance Process (TAP) may be able to help.

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.

If the tenant is renting by the week or month, landlords can increase the rent with notice. The rent increase notice may be given to the tenant in-person or 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. The Saskatchewan Landlords Association (SLA) and the Network of Non-Profit Housing Providers of Saskatchewan (NPHPS) are such approved landlord associations.

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 is 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 Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) may require the landlord to refund any extra rent paid by the tenant.

Changes to the Number of Tenants

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. Landlords cannot charge more for extra people unless there is a written agreement that sets out the amount that can be charged for extra people.

Changes to Amenities

Some rental places include 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 ORT to make these kinds of changes.

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