The Residential Tenancies Act is the law that governs the renting of housing and apartments in Alberta.
What Does the Residential Tenancies Act Mean by “Residential Premises”?
The Act only covers the renting of residential premises and not commercial or business premises. Most places, which a person calls home, such as apartments, houses, or even just a rented room, are included. However, the following are NOT residential premises:
- A mobile home;
- A combination of a business and living quarters;
- Rooms in the living quarters of the landlord;
- A hotel or lodge;
- A tenancy agreement between an education institution as landlord and a student if the student does not have exclusive possession of a self-contained unit;
- A nursing home;
- A senior citizens lodge;
- A social care facility;
- A correctional institute.
Who Is the Landlord?
The landlord is the owner of the premises. He or she must supply whatever services have been agreed upon in the tenancy agreement. A landlord may hire a property manager to collect rent and perform the landlord’s duties. The manager is an agent of the landlord and acts on behalf of the landlord. A landlord (or his agent) is not allowed to discriminate against tenants on the grounds of race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, marital status, age, ancestry, place of origin, sexual preference, or physical characteristics. If you feel that you have been discriminated against for any of these reasons, contact the nearest Alberta Human Rights Commission Office.
Who Is the Tenant?
The tenant rents the premises from the landlord, or from the previous tenant under a sublease. This gives the tenant exclusive use of the premises, and gives the tenant the same right to privacy as a homeowner would enjoy. However, the Residential Tenancies Act and the tenancy agreement also bind the tenant. The tenant must comply with the terms of the tenancy agreement and the Act. The tenant cannot agree to give up any of his/her rights which are provided by the Act.
When renting residential premises the landlord and the tenant enter into an agreement known as a lease or residential tenancy agreement. The lease can be written, oral or implied. In any case, the terms of the agreement may not be changed unless agreed to by both the landlord and the tenant. It is better if the lease is in written form so that all parties are aware of the terms of the agreement. Read the tenancy agreement carefully. It is a contract and the tenant will be bound to its terms, regardless of whether or not he/she has read it, unless the terms are contrary to the Residential Tenancies Act. If there is a lease which has been signed by the tenant, the landlord must give the tenant a fully signed copy of it within twenty-one days after the signing. Even if the agreement is verbal, the landlord and the tenant are still bound by the Act. The agreement should spell out the service the landlord is going to provide. This includes such things as storage rooms, laundry facilities, and parking spaces. These services may be included in the rent or there may be a separate charge.