What does 'month to month' entail?
February 7, 2005 9:31 AM   Subscribe

I don't understand leasing and renting in Toronto [great deals and spectacular lake-front views inside].

I've been renting my current apartment for a number of years. And every year the super comes around with a lease to sign. After doggedly perusing the management for a couple of months and negotiating a fair rent, I sign the lease.

The lease looks like a standard form and is written in Leagalish, but it seems to me that I can just tell my landlord that I'm not signing the lease and then my tenancy becomes "month to month".

What does this mean? I assume it means I can move out easier, but is it easier for them to, say, evict me without cause? What are the supposed advantages to the renter and landlord of a lease? If I've signed a lease, and want to break it, can I do that if the landlord doesn't want to let me? Surely they can't force me to stay (or pursue me for the rest of the lease's term's payments) if I needed/wanted to move to another city, can they?
posted by Capn to Law & Government (5 answers total)
If you already signed a lease, and the lease expires, you become a month-to-month tenant, but all the rules of the former lease still apply, and the landlord can start raising rent.
posted by Jairus at 9:42 AM on February 7, 2005

In America, generally speaking, you're obligated to pay rent for the length of the lease--whether or not you want to live there. Sometimes (depending on the housing market) a lease has a clause built in to let you break it by, say, paying X months in rent. However, many don't, and the landlord can pursue you for rent due through the end of the lease. You can usually, however, attempt to find a subletter (subject to landlord approval). Also, the landlord has to make an effort to re-rent the apartment (and if he/she can re-rent it you're off the hook). This means something along the lines of putting a sign in the window and an ad in a newspaper.

The advantage of a month-to-month lease to you is that you don't have to worry about being stuck with a year-long lease if you suddenly need to relocate. The disadvantage is that you've got little recourse if the landlord decides to raise the rent suddenly (I don't think official eviction applies here, other than a landlord trying to force you by raising the rent). A year lease at least gives you a stable rent payment that can't be changed.
posted by handful of rain at 9:42 AM on February 7, 2005

Capn, try these folks.
posted by stonerose at 9:50 AM on February 7, 2005

Start here: The Tenant Protection Act of Ontario. It has everything you need to know in more or less standard english. You should not sign those extra leases. Stay on as a month-to month tenant. There is absolutely no disadvantage to doing so, only advantages. Landlords can only raise rents once yearly, and only by the prescribed amount set out by the government, your term of lease does not change this - nor does it change your rights or responsibilities as a tenant. All it does is increase your flexibility, which is not what the landlord wants, obviously. You can only be evicted for non-payment of rent, habitual late payment, if the unit is unsafe, if you are a safety concern to other occupants, or if the unit is to be used by the landlord or their immediate family. You cannot be evicted any easier on a month-to-month lease.

Really, leases are a joke to begin with, as any illegal terms in a lease are rendered null and void by the Tenant Act. You may as well agree not to sign a lease and abide by the act in its entirety. Read the act, if anything seems wrong, defer to it and not your lease.
posted by loquax at 12:04 PM on February 7, 2005

You don't have to re-sign a lease every year - after the lease expires, you go automatically to month-to-month. Your landlord cannot raise your rent by more than a certain percentage, which is set by the gov't; I believe this year it is 3.8%. If your landlord has renovated and improved the property, he/she can apply for permission to raise the rent by up to 7% per annum.

Once you move out, all bets are off and the landlord can raise the rent by any amount they wish - there is no legacy rent control in Ontario.

The main advantage of renting month-to-month is you are not bound to the year, although you are still required by law to give 60 days notice. Your landlord derives no advantage other than the ability to raise your rent by a small percentage, which he/she could legally do at the renewal of every lease anyways.

It's a good idea to have at least a passing familiarity with the Ontario Tenant Protection Act - I got screwed by any number of unscrupulous landlords when I was teenager before I wised up and looked into my rights as a tenant.

A good resource is the Ontario Housing Tribunal.
posted by id girl at 9:28 PM on February 7, 2005

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