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Different rules for residential and commercial tenants

In Canada, rules and regulations for tenants who are renting a property or an apartment/house are governed under provincial or territorial law.

Each province or territory sets out rules for both residential and commercial tenants and you need to look at the specific acts and boards for your province or territory. Regardless of which province or territory, there is usually a difference between residential and commercial tenants.

Residential tenants

Every province and territory has a residential tenants and landlords act under which tenants who are renting a property are covered. That includes the rights and obligations tenants have to the landlord and vice versa.

With residential tenants, unlike commercial tenants, the rules are a bit different.

Many residential leases are for a fixed one year term, after which you rent on a month-to-month basis, which is unlike commercial tenants who tend to be in fixed-term leases properties for years.

Another major difference between residential tenants and commercial tenants is usually how eviction is handled.

It’s much harder to evict a residential tenant than a commercial tenant. That is because unlike most commercial tenants, residential tenants take their shelter at their rental property, it’s where they live, not where they do business (usually). If the landlord wants to evict someone, he or she often has to go through a formal process including written notices to the tenant, as well as a residential tenancy branch or board.

The law recognizes that people need a place to leave and makes the eviction process for residential tenants difficult, so that the tenant has a chance to correct the behaviour before being kicked out. For example, the eviction process for a residential tenant, on average, can take 90 days in Ontario but it has been found that before eviction, most tenants are usually able to pay the rent arrears.

Commercial tenants

The province and territories usually also have a commercial tenancy act. These acts are not as detailed as the residential tenancy acts, because for commercial tenancies, the lease agreements are quite significant. That is because the relationship between landlord and commercial tenant is more in the line of a business relationship. In many cases, the commercial lease agreement will take precedence of the commercial tenancy act.

Commercial leases are usually long term leases. Often commercial leases last at least a few years and can go up to decades-long leases.

Landlords of commercial tenants usually have a much easier time evicting a tenant than a residential landlord has. If a commercial tenant doesn’t pay their rent, then the landlord can evict, through specific actions, such as changing the locks, as per the lease agreement. In contrast, lock changes are not allowed for most residential tenancies.

If you are dealing with residential or commercial tenancy issues or problems, you should contact a lawyer.

Read more:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Commercial Tenancies Act

Residential Tenancies British Columbia