Thousands of people rent apartments and other types of homes in Calgary and throughout Alberta, but many do not know the rules and regulations that apply to both landlords and tenants. The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) is in place to set out guidelines for both parties to adhere to.
Here are some of the things that you may not be aware of when renting in Calgary.
1. Landlords can charge a security deposit to cover any damage, cleaning etc that might need to be done when the tenant leaves the property. However, that deposit cannot exceed more than the first full month’s rent. Any additional refundable deposits, such as keys, parking stalls etc, have to be added to the deposit amount and the total of all refundable deposits cannot exceed the first full month’s rent.
If a non-refundable fee is charged such as a pet fee, then this does not form part of the deposit and can exceed the monthly rent amount.
Deposits can never be increased, even if the rent increases over time.
2. A Tenancy Agreement must be completed and signed by both landlord and tenant and the landlord has to give the tenant a copy within 14 days of it being signed and returned to the landlord. If the tenant does not receive the document within the 14 day period, the tenant can withhold rent until it’s received.
3. If a tenant rents in a building that allows pets or smoking but then the landlord changes its policy to a no pet or no smoking building, existing tenants are exempt and are ‘grandfathered’ to the original terms. New tenants must abide by the new policy. However, existing tenants who have a pet cannot replace or buy additional pets after the policy change.
4. Subletting or reassigning a lease is allowed under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and no landlord can refuse a request without reasonable cause. If the landlord refuses such a request, written confirmation of the reasoning must be received by the tenant within 14 days of the request. If no response, either for or against the request is received within 14 days, the tenant can assume the landlord agrees.
5. Landlords must give at least 24 hours notice to enter a property and must give a reason for the entry. If this notice is served they have the right to enter the premises without consent and the tenant does not have to be present. They may only enter between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm and cannot enter on a Sunday or holiday without consent. If the tenant has different religious holidays, these too are exempt, providing the tenant has given the landlord notice of the holiday.
The landlord can enter a property without notice or consent if it is deemed an emergency. Even so, the landlord must make a reasonable effort to contact the tenant by knocking or phoning before using their pass key. Contact attempts must be documented.
6. If a tenant does not pay rent on time, the landlord must give a 14-day notice to terminate/repossess. If the rent is paid within the 14 days, the notice is null and void. If the rent is not paid the tenant needs to vacate the premises before the termination date. If the premises are not vacated the landlord can apply for a court order to terminate the residency.
7. A move in/out inspection is mandatory in Alberta. This should detail the condition of the premises before moving in and upon moving out. If the landlord does not complete one or both inspections they have no legal right to retain any deposits.
8. The return of a security deposit cannot be withheld for normal wear and tear. This is defined as “deterioration that takes place over time from the use of the residential premises, even when the tenant provides reasonable care and maintenance.”
The deposit can be retained all or in part for damage caused by the tenant and for excessive cleaning that might be required. This can include professional shampooing of carpets or drapes.
The landlord cannot charge the tenant for replacement of carpets, rugs, light fittings, appliances etc if the tenant happens to be leaving at a time when replacement is required, or the unit is being renovated.
9. When a tenant leaves a property, the landlord must give the tenant a statement of account, detailing the security deposit originally taken and any deductions that are being applied. This must be delivered or postmarked within 10 days of the tenant giving up possession. If no deductions are listed the tenant must receive the full deposit.
If deductions are listed the landlord can show the costs in the statement, however, if costs are not known at that time, then an estimate of the costs should be provided and a final statement, outlining any refund or balance owing must be provided to the tenant within 30 days of the end of the possession.
10. If the property is taken over by a new landlord, the tenants must be provided with notice of the new owner’s name and address within 7 days.
All tenant deposits paid to the old landlord are transferred to the new landlord. The new landlord cannot ask for new or additional deposits, likewise, the tenant cannot ask the new landlord to return deposits paid to a previous landlord. Transferred deposits are returned, less any deductions, to the tenant upon the termination of tenancy.
These rules are set out by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), in Alberta. It applies anyone who rents a house, apartment, duplex or mobile home. It also applies to motel or hotel room that are rented for more than six consecutive months and rooming or boarding houses.
The Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) offers landlords and tenants an alternative means of resolving serious disputes outside of court.
To obtain more information, go to the Service Alberta website , or contact:Edmonton: 780-644-3000, Calgary: Toll free 310-0000 then 780-644-3000.