Unfortunately, rent increases are a fact of life but are regulated and a landlord cannot just raise the rent when he or she wants.
Rent increases are regulated by the residential tenancy acts of each province or territory.
Notice of rent increase
Rent is often increased on a yearly basis, or when a lease is up for renewal. Either way, a rent increase is usually not permitted more than once a year.
A landlord cannot just hike the rent and must notify the tenant that he or she intends to do so. In many provinces/territories, the notice period is 90 days but you need to verify this notice period with the legislation of your province/territory.
For example, in Nova Scotia the notice period is a lot longer at four months before the anniversary date of the date of tenancy.
In Saskatchewan, the rules are very strict and notice period requirements are a lot longer. Landlords must give one year’s written notice of a rent increase for a periodic tenancy, unless they are a member in good standing of the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Industry Association (SRHIA), in which case the landlord may give six months’ notice of a rent increase. Landlords must give tenants a notice of at least six months from the start of the tenancy or the date of the last increase, whichever is later.
Notice requirements can also vary depending on what kind of tenancy you have, whether it is month-to-month, weekly or yearly.
For example, Alberta expresses the notice obligation in the following time periods:
- Weekly: 12 full tenancy weeks;
- Monthly: 3 full tenancy months
- Any other periodic tenancy: 90 days.
Without proper notice a rent increase is not effective.
In addition, if the landlord wants to increase rent above allowable guidelines he or she has to get permission from the residential tenancy board of their province or territory.
Maximum rent is usually the amount the tenant agrees to pay when he or she signs the lease for the premises; understanding that there are usually yearly rent increases.
Some provinces have rent control, such as Ontario and Manitoba; others like Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia don’t have rent control.
The way rent control works is that in the province, in which it exists, the government will issue limits on how much the rent is allowed to be increased in a year.
For example, the Ontario government usually releases an advisory about how much rent in Ontario is to be increased for the following year. In June 2015, the government advised that the rent increase for 2016 was allowed to be a maximum of 2 per cent. Rent increase is usually expressed as a percentage.
It’s not allowed for the landlord to increase or charge more than is allowable under the rules. If they do so, then a tenant can apply for a rebate or file a complaint with the residential tenancy body of their province or territory.
Rent Increases - CMHC
Renting in Canada - CMHC