Frequently Asked Questions
The Off-Campus Housing Office
321 Hatcher House| Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(709) 864.3765 or (709) 864.4796 | email@example.com
If you are looking for the answer to a different question please contact our office at the above information.
Signing a lease
1. What is a lease?
The lease, or the rental agreement, can be verbal or written and is a legal binding contract between the tenant and landlord. It may be brief, or it may contain extra conditions or obligations of both parties. Any change or addition to a verbal or written lease should always be mutual consent and recorded in writing.
A lease could be a week-to-week agreement, a month-to-month agreement, or a fixed term agreement of not less than 6 months and not more than 12 months. The type of rental agreement will determine when the rent is due and when the notice of termination should be given by the landlord or tenant.
2. What information in the lease do I need to make sure before I sign the lease?
- the landlord's name and address
- your name and signature (if you have roommates, each of your names and signatures are needed)
- the length of your lease, including start and end dates
- the monthly rent, including when, where and how it should be paid
- which utilities are included in the rent (oil, electricity, cable/internet, phone, none)
- what appliances are included in the rent (fridge, oven, TV, etc.)
- whether or not any furniture is covered, if so, what it includes (couch, bed, shelves)
- if the landlord is planning to make any repairs, make sure the lease says exactly which repairs are to be made and when they should be done, whether this is before you move in or sometime during your lease period
- whether or not you are allowed to have a pet in your apartment
- whether or not you are allowed to sublet your apartment
3. Can I change my mind and back out after signing the lease?
From the moment you agree to the lease, you are responsible for carrying the lease until the end of its term. You cannot cancel without giving whatever notice period is required by the lease, or by the Residential Tenancies Act.
4. Do I get a copy of a signed rental agreement from the landlord?
Yes, the landlord normally gives the tenant a duplicate copy of the rental agreement within 10 days after signing by all parties. If it's been ten days and you still haven't received it, make sure to contact your landlord. If the landlord fails to do this, you are not obligated to pay rent until you receive a copy of the rental agreement.
5. Am I responsible for insuring my personal belongings?
Yes, a tenant is responsible for insuring his/her personal belongings. A tenant's personal belongings are not covered by whatever insurance the landlord may have on the property. For example, if a house with an apartment burns down, the tenant is responsible for damages to his/her personal belongings; the landlord's insurance will not usually cover these damages. We encourage all tenants to get tenants insurance, the cost of which can be adjusted to cover the value of your belongings.
6. If I rent a room in someone's house, do they normally give me written lease?
If you rent a room in the landlord's house, the landlord doesn't usually fill out the formal lease with you, but make sure that you have a written agreement of some sort. A formal letter with all the details that should normally be given in a lease is often needed.
If you want to sublet a room in a house, the leaving person doesn't usually fill out the formal lease, but make sure you sign a written agreement with all the rent details. When the original tenant's rights expire, the rights of the sublettor also expire. So if you want continue living in the room, make sure you sign a formal written lease with the landlord before the end of the original tenant's lease.
7. Must a landlord give me a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act?
Yes, according to the Section 5 and 6 of the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord must provide a copy of the Act, without cost, to the tenant who is entering into a rental agreement.
8. Are there residential premises not covered by the Act?
There are certain premises which do not come under the Act, such as accommodations:
where meals and bed sheets are provided, as in a homestay; where the owner shares bathroom and kitchen facilities with an occupant, as in a boarding home;provided by an educational institution to its students (including units owned by Memorial University of Newfoundland);provided by religious, charitable or non-profit organizations;in a hospital or nursing home;which are occupied on a transient basis provided in a hotel, motel, inn, tourist home or hostel.
Rental Premises Condition Report Form
1. What is a Rental Premises Condition Report form?
The Rental Premises Condition Report form is usually completed, signed and dated by both the tenant and landlord during the premises condition inspections at the beginning and end of the rent term. A tenant can use it to show there were damages before the tenant moved in. A landlord can use it to show damages that were not there before the tenant moved in.
The premises should be vacant during an incoming and outgoing inspection, unless the landlord and tenant agree otherwise. The landlord and tenant should do the inspections together and write down any damages such as holes, scratches and burns. The landlord and tenant should sign and keep a copy of the report. If a landlord or tenant does not want to participate in an inspection report, the landlord or tenant should complete the inspection report, preferably with a witness, and provide a copy to the other party. Many landlords and tenants take pictures of the conditions in the rental properties or videotape them at the start and at the end of the tenancy.
1. What is a security deposit?
A security deposit is money given to the landlord, which is held as security for the performance of an obligation or a liability of the tenant. It is not included in, or a part of, the rent for the property. The security deposit does not belong to the landlord, but must be held by the landlord.
2. Must a landlord provide me a receipt for a security deposit?
A landlord should give the tenant a written receipt stating the amount of the deposit, the date of the payment, and the address of the premises.
3. How much can be charged for a security deposit?
The amount of the security deposit that a landlord can require depends on the type of rental agreement:
for a weekly rental agreement, the deposit cannot be greater than the first two weeks rent;for a monthly rental agreement, it must not exceed 75% of the first months rent;for premises are rented in a fixed term of 6 to 12 months, the deposit cannot exceed 75% of the first months rent if the rent payment was on a monthly basis.
4. When does a landlord have to return a security deposit after the tenant moves out?
The landlord should return the security deposit to the tenant within 15 days after the tenant moves out, unless the landlord has a claim for all or a part of the deposit. A landlord can keep a security deposit with the tenant's written permission.
5. Do I have to show the receipt to get deposit back from the landlord?
No. If the tenant loses the receipt, he or she can still get the security deposit from the landlord.
1. Do I have to pay all twelve months in advance?
No, you pay month by month. Usually the landlord will ask for the first month's rent up front, when you sign the lease.
2. Where and how do I have to pay my rent?
Some people pay cash face to face (you need to make sure to get a receipt) and some by cheques (your bank statement will serve as a receipt). The method of payment should be clearly stated on the lease.
3. Can the landlord request post-dated cheques for rent payments?
Yes, landlords can. Most rental property companies request post-dated cheques written by the tenant for a date in the future. The cheques received by the landlord or the rental property companies cannot be cashed until that day.
4. Does the tenant have a right to reasonably delay paying rent?
No, the tenant must pay on time on the first day of the month unless otherwise stated on the lease.
5. Can a landlord charge a fee for the late of rent payment?
Yes, the landlord can charge $5.00 for one day late, and $2.00 for each additional day the rent is not paid up to a maximum of $75.00.
6. Can a landlord charge a fee if a tenant's rent cheque is returned because of non-sufficient funds (N.S.F.) in the tenant's account?
If a rent cheque is returned N.S.F., a landlord may charge a fee not greater than $25.00.
1. Do I have to give my landlord notice if I want to renew my lease?
No, your lease is automatically renewed unless you tell your landlord you want it to end. The automatically renewed agreement will be a monthly agreement. If you do not want to renew your lease you should let your landlord know about the non-renewal at least 2 months before the end of your lease.
1. Can a landlord increase rent anytime?
No, a landlord cannot increase the rent during any fixed term rental agreement, or during the first 12 months of a weekly or monthly rental agreement. Also, the landlord cannot increase the rent more than once in a 12-month period thereafter.
2. Can a landlord increase rent by giving a verbal notice to me?
No, a landlord must give the tenant a written notice 3 months in advance to increase the rent. The notice of increase must be signed by the landlord, identify the rental unit and state the amount of the increase.
3. What do I do when I receive a rent increase notice?
When you received a rent increase notice, you must let the landlord know that you agree to the increase or not.
1. What do I do if a repair needs to be done in my apartment?
First, contact your landlord in person or over the phone/email to ask him/her to make the repair. If you cannot reach him/her, he/she refuses to make the repair, or if he/she does not do it on time, then you should send him/her a written request for repair. In the letter, you should explain what repairs need to be done and give a time limit (usually 10 days). Say that if he/she does not complete the repair you will file a claim for repairs with the Residential Tenancies Division.
2. Can I withhold rent because a landlord is not maintaining the premises?
No, not paying the rent may result in the landlord sending the Termination Notice to you.
3. Am I responsible for damages to the residential premises?
A tenant is responsible to repair damages caused by the tenant or one of the tenant's guests or visitors.
4. What can a landlord do if a tenant has not repaired damages?
A landlord can send a written request to the tenant to repair damages. If the tenant fails to do the repairs within 3 days or a reasonable time, then a landlord may give the tenant a written notice to terminate on any date 5 days following the date the notice is sent.
1. Can my landlord get into my apartment whenever he wants?
No, your landlord should give you notice, verbally or in writing, 24 hours before visiting your apartment. If he/she is coming to show the apartment to a potential tenant, he/she can come between 9am to 9pm, and in the final month of a lease he/she can show the apartment with 4 hours of notice. If it is to make repairs, he/she can come between 7am and 7pm. And if there is an emergency or the tenant has abandoned the property, the landlord may come with no notice at any time.
Terminating the lease
1. Can a landlord terminate the lease when the tenant does not pay rent, no matter what reasons the tenant has?
Yes, a landlord can give the tenant a Termination Notice when the rent is not paid.
2. Can a termination notice be verbal?
No, a termination notice by a landlord must be in writing.
3. If a landlord gives a tenant a written termination notice, is the tenant required to give a written notice of his vacant?
Yes, a written notice from a tenant is required when he is leaving, or rent will be payable until the effective date of termination.
Subletting and assigning
1. What is a sublet?
If you sublet your apartment, that means you allow someone else to take over your room or apartment for a temporary period of time. Makes sure that your landlord allows the subletting in the lease.
2. How should I do if I need to sublet my room?
The tenant needs to contact the landlord first, and make sure the consent from the landlord. Then, the tenant has to find the subletter and notify the landlord. Next, the tenant and the subletter need to sign a subletting agreement which should be exactly the same content of the original lease except for changes to the names and the term. Each of them keeps a copy of the subletting agreement. It is also the tenant's responsibility to send a copy to the landlord. Each rent paid by the subletter to the tenant needs to be transferred to the landlord. The subletting would be done after the subletting term is over.
3. What is the difference between subletting and assigning?
If you are leaving temporarily for a trip and you wish to avoid paying rent for the apartment while you are not living there, then you could sublet your apartment. When you sublet your apartment, you are still the legal tenant and still responsible for the apartment. You can return to you your apartment when the sublet term is over. On the other hand, if you are leaving your apartment permanently, then you would be better to transfer/assign your lease. By assigning the lease, you are giving up your right to the original lease, and you are no longer responsible for the apartment.