Welcome to the WUSA Housing Playbook

The purpose of this page is to provide UWaterloo undergrads with tools that can help them as they navigate local housing concerns when renting apartments, rooms, and homes.

While some of the information on this page is specific to the City of Waterloo, much of it is applicable throughout the entire region, whether you live in the City of Waterloo, Cambridge, Kitchener, or one of the local townships.

Tenant Rights

There are laws in Ontario that protect both landlords and tenants. Rules surrounding evictions, leases, rent increases, and more can be found at the Government of Ontario website. 

The Residential Tenancies Act Guide (PDF) provides a summary of what is covered under Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). The RTA outlines the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants who rent residential properties. 

Many of the rules about rent do not apply to:  

  • non-profit and public housing  
  • university and college residences  

These units are still covered by most of the other rules in the RTA about such things as maintenance and the reasons for eviction.  

However, the RTA does not apply if the occupant must share a bathroom or kitchen facility with: 

  • the owner (or spouse, child, parent); and  
  • the owner (or spouse, child, parent) lives in the building in which the living accommodation is located 

Since April 2018, landlords and tenants in Ontario must use the “Standard Form of Lease

  • By law landlords must refrain from relying on other forms, such as their own or realtor’s forms.
  • Parties can agree to more terms but must ensure these terms follow the RTA. If not, terms will be void and not enforceable.
  • Where the Standard Form has not been used, you can ask that it be provided by the landlord, who will then have 21 days to provide it.

For further information, see the Guide to Ontario’s standard lease.

Download a copy of the Residential Tenancy Agreement (Standard Form of Lease)

Rent, Deposits, and Other Charges


The total rent (“lawful rent”) includes: The base rent for the rental unit; and any separate charges for parking or other services and utilities, that the landlord provides to the tenant

Rent increases are allowed 12 months after either the last rent increase or the date the tenancy begins. 

  • A Landlord must use an N1 Form and give at least 90 days’ notice before the rent increase is to take effect. 
  • Lawful rent cannot be increased by more than the rent increase guideline, which is set yearly by the Government of Ontario. 
  • The guideline is the maximum a landlord can increase most tenants’ rent during a year without the approval of the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). 

There are times when you must pay for certain things, like deposits and charges for services. If you have paid for anything that you feel was incorrect, you should seek legal advice, as you may be able to apply to the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) to get money back.   

Can be required when the tenant enters into the tenancy agreement. 

  • Must be applied to the rent for the last period of the tenancy. 
  • Cannot be more than one month’s rent or the rent for one rental period (e.g., one week in a weekly tenancy), whichever is less. 
  • Cannot be used as a damage deposit. 
Key Deposit: A charge for any keys, remote entry devices or cards given. 

  • Landlords can charge added fee for replacement keys, provided the cost is approximate to the cost of the actual key 
  • The landlord must return the deposit when the tenant gives back their key(s) at the end of the tenancy 

Note: A key deposit cannot be used as a damage deposit

Charges for services provided by landlord can include

  • Heat,  
  • Water,  
  • Electricity,  
  • Parking,  
  • Laundry,  
  • Cable/internet 

There are times when you may be asked to pay for certain deposits and services, but under the RTA, you don’t need to.  

This may include, for example: 

  • Prepaid rent or deposits worth multiple months of rent 
  • Security deposits 
  • Damage deposits 
  • Smoking deposits 
  • Children deposits 
  • Pet deposits 
  • Paying for garbage or garbage tags 
  • Paying for basic maintenance 
  • Seasonal air conditioning fees 
  • Bills or invoices for services or work you have never agreed to pay for 
  • Landlord taxes 
  • Contents insurance 
  • General Cleaning Fees 
  • Late Fees on rent

If you have paid for anything that you feel was incorrect, you should seek legal advice, as you may be able to apply to the LTB to get money back, provided it is within a year to the date you paid for the service or fee. 

Invalid Clauses

Lease Agreements have clauses or rules that, once an agreement is signed, both landlords and tenants agree to abide by. Sometimes certain clauses may not be enforceable by law.


Under the RTA (Section 14), a landlord cannot include a clause in a lease agreement that prohibits animals in the rental unit or in or around the residential building.

However, there are some instances where a landlord can apply to the LTB to evict a tenant who has a pet, example, a pet causes damage to the rental property (RTA, Section 76) 


Under the RTA, a landlord cannot:

  • Charge extra fees or raise the rent due to guests in the rental unit.
  • Stop tenants from having guests or roommates nor require prior notification or permission.
  • But tenants handle the behaviour of their guests (noise, damage, other disturbances).

Note: “No Trespass” notices are not enforceable under the RTA

Invalid clauses on tenancy agreements can include the prohibition of pets or guests.

The tenant is entitled to reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit (e.g. quiet enjoyment, reasonable privacy, freedom from unreasonable disturbance and exclusive use of the rental unit). 

If another tenant interferes with this right, the landlord must take reasonable steps to end the interference. 

Except in cases of emergency or prior consent from the tenant, the landlord needs to provide a 24 hours’ written notice prior to entering the unit. 

Notice must include: 

  • Reason for the entry 
  • Date and time (between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.)

It should be noted that a landlord can enter without written notice, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., if: 

  • the rental agreement requires the landlord to clean the unit – unless the agreement allows different hours for cleaning, 
  • the landlord or tenant has given a notice of termination,  
  • or they have an agreement to end the tenancy, and the landlord wants to show the unit to a potential new tenant (in this case, although notice is not required, the landlord must try to tell the tenant before entering for this reason). 

Reasons for entering a rental unit: 

  • To make repairs; 
  • To inspect the unit to see if repairs are needed, if the inspection is reasonable; 
  • Showing the rental unit to a possible buyer, insurer or mortgage lender; etc. 

Under the RTA, the following rules apply to tenants and landlords, no harassment or discrimination, meaning: 

  • Tenants or their guests 
  • Landlords or their agent (i.e. superintendent, property manager) 
  • Landlord might handle trying to stop other tenants from harassing their neighbour. 

Examples of harassment and discrimination can include: 

  • Entry without notice by the landlord may be considered harassment as well as taking pictures in the unit without permission; 
  • Giving personal information to someone without your permission; 
  • Cutting off or interfering with an important service such as electricity, heat, telephone, mail, meals, or care services; 
  • Trying to stop a tenant from joining a tenants’ association or from standing up for their rights; etc. 

The landlord must keep the rental unit and property in good repair and follow all health, safety and maintenance standards. 

Includes things that came with the unit, such as appliances, and common areas, such as parking lots, elevators, and hallways. 

Tenants Responsibilities: 

  • Repairing or paying for any undue damage caused by the tenant or their guests. 
  • Keeping the unit clean, unless the landlord agreed to do so. 
  • Paying their rent, even if they have problems. 

Bed bugs or other insects or pests 

  • Tenants must at once inform the landlord. As a tenant, you are responsible for cooperating with your landlord’s efforts to control bed bugs. 
  • Treating an apartment for bed bugs is not considered an emergency, so 24 hours’ notice is needed 
  • Tenants must cooperate and properly prepare the apartment according to the landlord’s instructions. 
  • Landlords handle the costs for treatment. 
Under the RTA, landlords must file with the Landlord Tenant Board and show cause for any of the following: 

  • Collection of overdue rent 
  • Reimbursement for damages or expenses 
  • Eviction of Tenants 

Tenants cannot be evicted unless ordered by the LTB, no matter what a landlord says. 

Tenants can file with the Landlord Tenant Board and show cause for any of the following: 

  • Seek an order to have the landlord do something (i.e. make the repair, return the money) or stop doing something (i.e. enter the unit without notice, harassment) 
  • Claim a rent abatement 
  • Claim a rent reduction 
  • Claim general damages for stress, trouble and inconvenience 

There is a time limit on when tenants can go to the LTB. They have 1 year after the day the alleged conduct giving rise to the application occurred. 

Additional Contacts

Rental Housing Enforcement Unit (RHEU) 

For example, if your landlord:

  • harasses you,
  • evicts you illegally,
  • comes into your place without permission, or
  • threatens to do any of the above

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

  • In cases of discrimination

Small Claims Court

  • If the RTA does not apply, contract law still applies

City of Waterloo Municipal Enforcement 

  • If you suspect your rental unit is below minimum standards and the landlord is unwilling to fix the problem, you can request an inspection. 

Despite what landlords might tell their tenants, the end of an agreement does not mean the tenant has to move out or sign a renewal or new agreement to stay. 

Despite what landlords might tell their tenants, the end of an agreement does not mean the tenant has to move out or sign a renewal or new agreement to stay. 

Month to month 

  • If no notice has been sent and tenants want to continue their tenancy, they don’t have to do anything; automatically become a month-to-month lease. 
  • All the details of the earlier lease will continue the same. 

New Lease

  • The landlord and tenant can also agree to renew the agreement for another fixed term or enter into a new agreement. 
  • In any case, both parties must agree AND changes to the rent must follow the rules under the RTA. 

By the tenant: A proper notice (N9 Form) must be sent to the landlord at least 60 days before the last day of the term or rental period 

The tenant cannot just wait for the lease to expire and then leave. 

By the landlord: Can only give the tenant notice to end the tenancy in certain situations provided by the RTA. 

  • Where the tenant is at fault, notice can be sent anytime. 
  • Only at the end of the term, notice can be sent when the landlord: 
    • Needs the unit for themselves, an immediate family member, or caregiver 
    • Needs to do extensive repairs or renovations that require a building permit and vacant possession of the unit 

In these cases, the tenant may be entitled to compensation and/or the right to return to the unit. 

The tenant does not have to move out if not in agreement with the reason said in the notice. In that eventuality, the landlord must apply to the LTB to seek an eviction order. 

By mutual agreement: Parties can agree to end a tenancy at any time by using the N11 Form. 

An N11 Form signed at the beginning of the lease is unenforceable and the tenant does not have to move out. 

Lease between original tenant (referred to as “head tenant”) and new subtenant

There are 4 conditions for a valid subtenancy agreement 

  1. The head tenant must vacate the rental unit; 
  2. The term of the sublease must end on a specified date before the end of the head tenant’s lease 
  3. The head tenant keeps the right to resume occupancy of the rental unit at the end of the subtenancy; and 
  4. The head tenant must obtain the landlord’s consent 
    • Landlord shall not arbitrarily or unreasonably withhold consent and if it happens, the head tenant may apply to the LTB. 
    • If no consent is obtained, the landlord may apply to the LTB for an order ending the tenancy and evicting the “subtenant” who is in fact an “unauthorized individual”

Head Tenant Responsibilities

  • The head tenant is still liable to the landlord as if they are still living there; the contractual relationship stays 
  • The head tenant has a contractual relationship with subtenant; certain provisions of the RTA apply such as arrears of rent, damage to rental unit, interference with enjoyment, etc. 
  • The subtenant is not liable towards the landlord as there is NO contractual relationship between them. They are only liable towards the head tenant. 
  • The subtenant’s rights are limited to section 135 of the RTA (i.e. money collected illegally). For any other matters, the subtenant must turn to the head tenant for relief, who in turn may enforce obligations against the landlord. 

Original tenant transfers their lease to a new tenant (referred to as “assignee”). Terms of the original tenancy agreement apply. 

One condition must be fulfilled – the tenant must seek the landlord’s consent to the assignment, either general (i.e. okay, you can assign your lease to someone) or specific (i.e. okay, you can assign your lease to Jane Doe).

  • Where a landlord refuses to consent to a general assignment, or does not respond within seven days, the tenant may give the landlord a notice of termination within thirty days after the date the tenant requested consent to an assignment or apply to the LTB.
  • Where a landlord has consented to an assignment in principle (i.e. no paperwork signed), the tenant must still obtain the landlord’s further consent to an assignment to a specific assignee. In that case, the landlord may decide if the potential assignee is a suitable tenant. 

Original tenant will only be liable for breaches and obligations related to the period prior to the assignment. 

There are no ongoing obligations on the part of the original tenant once the lease has been transferred. 

  • Assignee is liable towards the landlord, not towards the original tenant as there is no contractual relationship between the assignee and original tenant. 
  • The assignee steps into the shoes of the original tenant in all respects, thus is covered by all the protections provided by the RTA. 
What to lookout for:
Legal Clauses
  • Official form provided by Landlord & Tenant Board- look for the Ontario Logo
  • Allow for reasonable wear and tear

    • e.g. replacing a carpet which has become worn after years of normal, everyday use
  • Reasonable notice given to tenants upon entry
Illegal Clauses
  • Prohibit pets, guests, additional occupants- this is not legal

  • Require tenant to pay for all the repairs that the landlord is responsible for
  • Put liability of injury/ death on the tenant
Things to keep in mind:
  • Take photos upon moving in & raise concerns immediately for any damages and missing furniture|
  • The landlord can add additional terms to the LTB form|
  • Replacement charge on lost keys are allowed|
  • Key deposit usually does not exceed $250|
  • Rent deposit has to be equivalent to last month’s rent
Sample Lease Agreement

Sample Lease Agreement

WUSA has developed a sample lease agreement for your reference with things to look out for before signing onto a lease.

View and Download Standard Lease with Markups (PDF)

Local and Provincial Resources