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Tenancy Agreements

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1. General Information

By law, the Standard Conditions are part of every residential agreement, whether written, verbal or implied. They must be included in every written tenancy agreement. The Standard Conditions highlight important requirements of The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 and regulations. The Act, regulations and Standard Conditions override anything to the contrary in a tenancy agreement.

A landlord cannot charge for processing any tenant's application to rent.

Landlords should give a copy of the Standard Conditions to all tenants with verbal or implied agreements. Landlords frequently rely on the Standard Conditions respecting payment of rent, rent increases, the landlord’s right of entry and the right to evict.

Written agreements must include:

  • A copy of the Standard Conditions;
  • The correct legal names of the parties;
  • The address of the rental property;
  • The date the agreement was reached;
  • The service address and telephone number of the landlord or agent and emergency contact number;
  • The date the tenancy will begin (commencement date). If the agreement is for a fixed term, the agreement must also include an end date. If there is no end date, it will be considered a monthly tenancy;
  • The periodic term of the rent (whether weekly, monthly or other);
  • The amount of rent and whether it varies with the number of occupants (if so, how much?);
  • The date that rent is to be paid;
  • Who pays utilities;
  • What services and facilities are included; and
  • The amount of any security deposit and when it is to be paid.
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2. Types of Tenancy Agreements

Landlords may choose to use one of these tenancy agreements that comply with the Act and its regulations.

Landlords who write tenancy agreements must be clear, as it is a legal document. If a document has two or more possible meanings, a tenant may assume, and the law will enforce, any reasonable interpretation of the document by the tenant. A tenant may read an agreement in a manner that is more favorable to the tenant than intended by the landlord. If there is ambiguity, the law will enforce the meaning that the tenant reasonably understood.

The Act and regulations overrule any residential tenancy agreement that conflicts with the Act or regulations. Agreements or parts of an agreement can only be changed by the agreement of both parties. The only exception is the landlord’s right to increase the rent by giving proper notice.

The tenant's obligation to pay rent is suspended if the landlord does not, within 20 days of entering into the tenancy agreement:

  • provide the tenant with a copy of any written tenancy agreement; or
  • if there is no written tenancy agreement, provide to the tenant in writing:
    1. the address of the landlord or the landlord's agent where the tenant may send or deliver notices; 
    2. the telephone number of the landlord or the landlord's agent; and
    3. a telephone number that the tenant may contact in the case of emergencies, including emergency repairs.

In a building with more than one rental unit that includes a common area, the landlord must post and maintain in a noticeable place or near the main entrance a prominent notice with the landlord’s legal name, and the address for service of notices and telephone number of the landlord or landlord’s agent. 

If you are a tenant and your landlord does not live in Saskatchewan, you can visit the Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants to find out how to serve documents to your landlord. 

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3. Term Agreements and Notice Requirements

A fixed-term tenancy agreement must be in writing unless three months or shorter in duration. The tenancy agreement must state the date that the tenancy ends.  In effect, when the landlord and tenant sign the agreement, they give each other notice to end the tenancy on that date. The tenant does not have to give any other notice to leave when the tenancy ends.

At least two months prior to the end of a fixed term lease, a landlord must notify the tenant in a Term Agreement – Two Month Notice of Intention form whether or not the landlord offers to renew the lease.

If the landlord offers to renew the lease, the terms of the new offer must be included.

If the tenant does not accept the offer within one month after the offer is received, the tenant is deemed to have rejected the offer and must vacate at the end of the tenancy. A landlord may not withdraw an offer of renewal.

If the landlord fails to provide a copy of the form to the tenant two months before the end of the tenancy, and the tenant isn’t planning to vacate at the end of the term, the tenant and landlord should discuss and try to agree what will happen after the end of the term. If the landlord and tenant cannot agree on a mutually acceptable terms to continue the tenancy, the tenant may apply to ORT for a hearing. A hearing officer may make any order that the hearing officer considers fair in the circumstances, including an order that the tenancy continues as a periodic tenancy from month to month, or an order ending the tenancy and may award compensation.

Rent may not be increased during the term of the lease, except as specifically agreed in the written lease.

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4. Late Fees and Discounted Rent

A landlord may charge a tenant a fee for late payment of rent if a “late fee” is included in the tenancy agreement. Landlords cannot impose late fees unless the rule or policy is clear and accepted by the tenant when the landlord and tenant enter into the tenancy agreement.

A late fee is lawful as long as it is a “reasonable pre-estimate of damages” and not a penalty. If a late fee is so high that it is not a reasonable pre-estimate of damages or costs incurred by a landlord because of late payment of rent, the fee will not be enforceable.

Typically, late fees up to the amount of $25.00 per month are justifiable and enforceable. In some circumstances, a landlord may prove entitlement to a larger amount by establishing that a greater expense to the landlord was anticipated when the parties entered into the lease.

A rent discount to encourage timely payment of rent is the equivalent of a late fee. A rent discount that is a penalty, and not a reasonable estimate of the actual cost to the landlord of late payment, is not enforceable.

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5. Joint Tenants vs. Co-Tenants

When a landlord rents the same premises to more than one tenant, the tenants will be either:

  • Joint tenants to one rental agreement with each tenant responsible for all obligations under the agreement; or
  • Co-tenants, each with their own rental agreement with the landlord, and each responsible only for the obligations under their lease.

Landlords and tenants are not always clear about what they intended, which may create problems of interpretation.

What are some indications of joint tenancy?

  1. There is one rental agreement with the names of both tenants on it;
  2. The tenants know each other before moving in and have chosen each other as roommates;
  3. One security deposit is paid to the landlord on behalf of both tenants;
  4. The rent is paid to the landlord on behalf of both tenants;
  5. The landlord provides one receipt for either the security deposit or rent with both tenants’ names on it;
  6. If one tenant moves out the landlord expects the remaining tenant to pay that person’s share of the rent or expects the remaining tenant to find a new roommate to share the obligations of tenancy;
  7. The landlord can evict both tenants if the rent is not paid in full, even if only one of the tenants has failed to pay; and
  8. If there are damages, the landlord may claim those damages from both tenants regardless of which tenant is responsible for the damages.

In the case of a month-to-month tenancy, one tenant can serve notice to end that tenancy even if the other tenant is not in favour or aware of the situation. However, one tenant alone cannot end a fixed term tenancy.

If one tenant serves notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy, the tenancy is ended for all the tenants. The landlord must deal with the security deposit when the tenancy ends. If one or more of the tenants enter into a new tenancy agreement and will continue to occupy the rental unit, the landlord needs to deal with the security deposit as if the tenants were all vacating, and ask for a new security deposit from the remaining tenants, as if they are new tenants. The landlord should complete an inspection and either claim damages for repairs, or return the security deposit within seven business days payable to all the joint tenants. The joint tenants who are remaining may apply their share of the security deposit towards the new security deposit.

A tenant who has to pay for damages caused by one or more other joint tenant can pursue the other joint tenants in Small Claims Court to recover those damages.

Joint tenancy will be presumed unless there is evidence that there was a separate agreement or arrangement between the landlord and each of the tenants.

What are some indications of co-tenancy?

  1. Each tenant has exclusive possession of a bedroom, but share common areas with other tenants (bathroom, living area and kitchen);
  2. Tenants don’t know each other when they move in, or they move in at different times;
  3. The landlord has a separate tenancy agreement with each tenant;
  4. Each tenant pays their own security deposit and rent to the landlord;
  5. The landlord provides a receipt for payment to each tenant separately; and
  6. If one tenant moves out, the landlord finds another tenant to move in.

Joint tenants and separate tenants must be distinguished from sub-tenants. A tenant may sign a lease for the whole of the rental premises, and find a roommate to whom they sublet part of the rental premises. In this case, only the prime tenant has obligations to the landlord, and must pay all the rent. The prime tenant will be a landlord to the sub-tenant and may collect and hold a security deposit. The prime tenant must obtain the landlord’s consent to sublet, or include the right to sublet as a term of the lease. If the landlord’s consent is required, a landlord must not unreasonably withhold consent. A public housing authority may withhold consent for any reason.

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6. Rent-to-Own Agreements

Generally speaking, the Act and Regulations do not apply to "rent-to-own" arrangements in agreements for sale of property or land. Any agreement that creates a potential change in ownership, including an action to cancel the agreement, must be taken to the Court of Queen's Bench. You should consult a lawyer about your rights. 

If a tenancy agreement contains an option to purchase, the ORT will generally have jurisdiction until the option to purchase is exercised.

Determining whether the ORT has jurisdiction over a tenancy agreement that includes a rent to own arrangement may involve other facts and more than one law. In the event of a dispute between a landlord and tenant where the facts and conditions of the agreement are not clear, it may be necessary to determine jurisdiction through the ORT.

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