By: Michelle Nakansah

As classes draw to a close, for many, concerns over exams are mixed with concerns over future housing.

For those looking for housing, there is a new game changer in the Ontario housing market that may be extremely beneficial for McMaster’s off-campus community.

Finally, in our favour, the Ontario government has introduced a standard lease which will be required to be used in nearly all rental agreements beginning April 30, 2018.

A simple lease should be a right to both landlords and tenants and awareness and education of leasing rights should be provided in an understandable manner. We all know how difficult it can get to understand leasing agreements at times.

Until to this decision by the Ontario government, there was no standardized form of rental agreements, leaving both tenants and landlords confused and forced to rely on online or secondary sources as a template for leasing agreements.

Deciding between difficult leasing agreements can be a struggle. The confusing language and long readings have often caused difficulty and worry while signing leases. We will struggle no longer.

For those of us interested in renting after April, this new form would be required for most privately, on the market residential tenancies including tenancies in single, and semi-detached houses, apartment buildings, rented condominiums and secondary units including basement apartments.

For those looking for housing, there is a new game changer in the Ontario housing market that may be extremely beneficial for McMaster’s off-campus community.

You, as students, are now able to understand most leasing agreements.

In addition, the new standard lease form must contain three portions; “Mandatory Fields” including names of landlord and renter, the tenancy term and other terms.

Although the renting market in Ontario is quite large, including several university and student towns such as Hamilton, with McMaster and Mohawk. Ontario is one of the later provinces to join in on the standard leasing effort. In addition to several other provinces in the Canada, the Standard Lease is an effort to eliminate confusions in leases and make the terms clear to both the landlord and the tenant.

Under this new act, previous leases that do not fit in the template may still be used however it must comply with the Residential Tenancies Act.

However, beginning April 30, if you as a student renter were to request the new Standard Lease, landlords must provide it.

Failure to provide a tenant with the new standard lease within 21 days gives the right to withhold up to one month’s rent.

If a landlord still does not provide a standard lease after 30 days of the 21-day threshold, tenants are no longer required to pay that rent back.

Look at that, because of someone else’s negligence, you could get free rent.

I feel that introducing this new standard lease is a step towards improving conditions in housing market specifically between landlords and tenants.

To start, this new standard lease makes the language found in leasing forms easier to understand, to avoid any confusions that may arise.

For me, the absence of a standard lease causes me to bypass many illegal terms to appear on leasing agreements, including “banning pets and guests, or demanding post-dated cheques.”

The introduction of this lease is a win for all students including myself, who have often been forced into buying into illegal leasing terms, simply because we know no better.

We all know about the stresses that come with searching for student housing, and this lease should not be an additional one.

The Ontario government’s effort to develop a standard lease is a bold attempt to protect landlords and tenants from any issues that may arise due to the confusing wording of leasing agreements.

By introducing the standard lease, the Ontario government seeks to help both parties by clarifying each of their rights, making the lease easy to understand and eliminate some of the confusions that have arose in the past.

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