The tenancy agreement may be one of two types:
(i) Periodic Tenancy
A periodic tenancy is a tenancy without a predetermined expiry date. In other words, the tenancy will continue unless and until the tenant or landlord gives proper notice to end it.
(ii) Fixed Term Tenancy
In a fixed-term tenancy, the tenant agrees to rent the premises for a certain length of time at an agreed-upon rate of rent. At the end of the fixed term, the tenancy expires. No notice is required at the end of the term, either by the landlord or the tenant.
If the tenant remains in the premises at the end of the term in a fixed-term tenancy, a periodic tenancy will be implied if the tenant pays the landlord and the landlord accepts the tenant’s payment. Such a periodic tenancy will continue until proper notice is given to terminate the tenancy, either by the landlord or the tenant.
Who Is Responsible for Paying the Rent?
The person who signs the agreement as tenant is responsible for paying the rent. If more than one person signs the agreement, the landlord can generally require any one of the tenants to pay the entire rent. Additionally, if you have signed a tenancy agreement jointly with another person, you may be responsible to pay the entire rent even if you move out before the other person. It is important to make sure you give proper notice to the landlord that you intend to end the tenancy before you move out. If your lease agreement does not contain any details about proper notice, the Residential Tenancies Act indicates what notice must be given. If you do not give proper notice before you leave, you may be responsible to the landlord for the rent until you meet the legal notice requirements.
When Must Notice Be given?
Notice must be given in writing and signed by you or someone on your behalf stating the day when you intend to vacate the premises and the address of those premises. The amount of notice will depend on whether your agreement is for a weekly, monthly or yearly period. In a month-to-month tenancy, you are required to give notice on or before the first day of the tenancy month to be effective on the last day of that month.
Unless you are somehow breaching the tenancy agreement, the landlord may only terminate a periodic tenancy in certain situations. Such situations include:
- The landlord has major renovations or conversion to condominiums planned for the premises (this does not include painting);
- The landlord or a relative of the landlord is planning to move back into the rental premises;
- The landlord is planning to rent or use the premises for non-residential purposes;
- The landlord has an agreement to sell the premises when the purchaser or a relative of the purchaser intends to occupy the premises.
In such situations, a three-month notice must be given by the landlord to the tenant to terminate the tenancy. However, in the event that you are somehow breaching the tenancy agreement in a substantial way, including failure to pay rent or damaging the premises, the landlord can evict you in a much shorter time period. Contact your local Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board for further information. Remember that the terms of a tenancy agreement must allow you the basic rights, benefits, and protections granted to tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act. If you have been employed by your landlord in some capacity such as manager or caretaker, both you and the landlord are entitled to receive whichever notice is the longest: the notice required by your agreement, or the notice required under Alberta laws such as the Employment Standards Code.
Does My Landlord Have to Give Notice of Rent Increases?
Yes. Your landlord must give you ninety days’ written notice for any rent increases unless your rental agreement requires the landlord to give you longer notice. In that case you will be entitled to the longer period of time. Additionally, the landlord may not increase the rent within the first year of a tenancy agreement. If you disagree with the rental increase, you must give notice to your landlord (on or before the date when the rent increase is to become effective) that you intend to end the rental agreement. If you do not do so, the landlord is allowed to assume that you do not dispute the increase in rent.
Can My Landlord Enter the Premises?
Your landlord cannot enter your premises without your consent, unless an emergency requires the landlord to do so or if there is reason to believe that you have abandoned the premises. Otherwise, the landlord must provide you with written notice at least twenty-four hours before the landlord intends to enter your premises. The notice must state a reasonable time for the entry: between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The landlord cannot enter the premises on any holidays, Sundays, or alternately designated religious days. The landlord is allowed to enter the premises to inspect the state of repair, to make repair, and to show the premises to potential tenants, purchasers, or mortgagees. If you have given notice that you intend to leave, the landlord is entitled to show the premises to potential tenants.
Do I Have To Pay A Security Deposit?
It is up to your landlord whether or not you must pay a security deposit. However, most tenancy agreements require the tenant to pay the landlord a security deposit. This is commonly called a “damage deposit” and is held by the landlord. It is used to pay for any damage that the tenant agrees to be responsible for in the tenancy agreement.
The deposit cannot be more than the equivalent of one month’s rent. Of course, the amount can also be less. The landlord may not ask the tenant to pay any increase in a security deposit. The security deposit must be placed in a trust account and interest must be paid to the tenant at the end of each year of tenancy or at the end of the tenancy. The landlord must deposit the security deposit into a trust account for the tenant within two banking days of receiving the deposit. That account is only for security deposit monies, and the landlord cannot use the account for any other purpose. The tenant is entitled to annual interest on the security deposit. The percentage interest will be set out in the regulations that accompany the Residential Tenancies Act and may change. The landlord is required to find out what the rate is. The landlord and tenant can agree to a higher rate of interest than the Act requires, but not a lower amount.
A landlord and tenant shall inspect the premises with one week before or after a tenant gives up possession of the premises. Within ten days after you give up possession of the premises, the landlord must give you that portion of the security deposit which you are entitled to receive, plus any interest earned on the money that has not yet been paid to you. However, the landlord can withhold some or all of the security deposit money for damage done to the premises by the tenant that is beyond “normal wear and tear.” Normal wear and tear is defined in the Act. It says that normal wear and tear means the deterioration that occurs over time with the use of the premises even though the premises received reasonable care and maintenance. Tenants should ensure the premises are very clean when they leave and there is no excessive damage of which the landlord has not been notified. The landlord can only withhold a damage deposit if an inspection has been performed one week before or one week after the tenant takes possession of the premises. You are entitled to a copy of this report. A comparison is made between pre-occupation inspection and the post-occupation inspection to determine damages. If there has been no prior inspection there should be no reduction to your security deposit.
If there is damage and the landlord has made a deduction from the security deposit, the balance of the deposit and a statement of account showing the amount of the deposit used by the landlord is to be given to the tenant within the ten-day period. Remember, the landlord cannot make a deduction for normal wear and tear. Sometimes it may be impossible to determine the exact amount of the damages within the ten-day period. In such cases, the landlord is required to give an estimated statement of account to the tenant and return the balance, if any, to the tenant within the ten-day period. A final statement and balance, if any, must be returned to the tenant within thirty days of the date the tenant gave up possession of the premises.
If the landlord fails to comply with the above requirements, the tenant may commence an action in court to recover the security deposit. A tenant can sue for the return of the damage deposit and interest in Provincial Court. The tenant must obtain a civil claim form, dispute note, and Affidavit of Service from Provincial Court, Civil Division. There is a cost for this. Inquire at the Provincial Court for the current cost. The limitation period in the Residential Tenancies Act is twelve months from the time the alleged problem arose. That means you must commence an action in court to recover your security deposit within twelve months from when you moved out.
Can I Change the Locks in My Apartment?
Neither the landlord nor the tenant can change or add locks to the premises without the other person’s consent. However, if the landlord has changed the locks to any part of the premises to which you should have access, the landlord must give you a key as soon as the change is made. If you get a court order for exclusive possession of the rental premises and to restrain your spouse or common-law partner from entering the premises, you should obtain the landlord’s consent before changing any locks. A tenant is also required to leave a key with the landlord as soon as any change is made. Failure to leave a duplicate key is a substantial breach of the tenancy agreement and the landlord has the right to evict the tenant. You are permitted to put a chain on the door that can only be locked when you are in the premises. The chain should be a type that may be installed and removed without damage to the premises.
What If I Have a Dispute with the Landlord?
The Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board is made up of volunteer members appointed by the city or town council to advise landlords and tenants in tenancy matters, to receive complaints and mediate disputes between landlords and tenants, and to give out information to landlords and tenants, concerning rental practices, rights and remedies. If you have a dispute with your landlord, or if your landlord has one with you, an application for relief may be made to the Provincial Court, Civil Division, or to the Dispute Resolution Service. Contact the Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board for further information.