Tenant rights and landlord rights in newfoundland and labrador

Governing or Regulatory Body

Service NL

Name of Act / Regulations

  • Residential Tenancies Act

Types of Housing/Living Arrangements Covered by the Provincial Legislation

Residential rental properties

Exclusions: Hospitals, tourist accommodations, prisons, temporary shelters, nursing homes, university and college residences, religious-oriented accommodations, co-ops, boarding houses, commercial non-residential properties

Types of Rental Periods

The tenant’s lease can be based on a week-to-week, month-to-month, or term tenancy from 6 months to one year.

Is a signed lease required?

No. A verbal agreement between tenant and landlord is considered to be legally binding, though a sample lease form is available and highly recommended.

Is a signed move in/move out inspection report required?

No. Although a full checklist of damages to the property is recommended, it is not required.

Deposits

The allowable amount of a security deposit that a landlord can charge a tenant depends on the term of the tenancy. For all monthly or term tenancies, the deposit cannot exceed ¾ of the firth month’s rent and no more than the amount of rent payable for the first two weeks.

Landlords have to collect a security deposit prior to the tenant moving in, and they must put it in a trust account within not more than two days of receiving it. The security deposit has to be given back to the tenant within a period of 15 days after they have moved out or the landlord may apply to the Service NL to keep some or all of it to pay for damages to the property. If there is a dispute over the refund of the deposit, either party can apply to the Residential Tenancies Section for the deposit. The interest rate that is set on the security deposit is calculated as simple interest and is not compounded. The landlord is required to pay the interest when the tenant moves out. The interest rates are set by each year in December.

Key Money

It is illegal to require key money.

Post-dated Cheques

Landlords have the option of requesting post-dated cheques from tenants.

Renewal of a Lease

Lease terms go up to one year and no more; they either end (notification must be given by one party) or they turn into a month-to-month rental agreement or a tenant can sign another term agreement.

Terminating a Tenancy (Lease): Notice and Timing

For a term tenancy, which can go up to 1 year, either the landlord or tenant can terminate the tenancy when it expires at the end of the term by giving the proper advance notice. With regards to term leases, the tenant is required to give a minimum of 2 month’s notice and the landlord is required to give at least 3 month’s notice for a standard termination. If a lease is not renewed and no notice is given, a term tenancy turns into a month-to-month term.

For a periodic tenancy (one that is month-to-month or week-to-week), the landlord may give 3 months notice to terminate the tenancy at any time, and the tenant is required to give at least one month notice.

Notice periods for terminating a lease vary depending on the reasons that are given for termination and they can range from a matter of days to weeks. All notices must be put in writing or they are not binding or valid.

In addition, a landlord can end a periodic tenancy in the event that:

  • Rent is 15 days late, 10 days notice to vacate premises.
  • Material breach—the party is required to give written notice to the other to comply with the material breach, if the party does not comply, one rental period notice can be given;
  • Premises are abandoned and uninhabited, in which case termination is immediate.
  • Tenant interferes with the peaceful enjoyment of others or vice versa—5 days but not more than 14 days notice is given by tenant, not less than 4 days notice by landlord.

If the tenant refuses to move from the premises, the landlord has the option of applying to the Service NL for an Order of Possession to end the tenancy. It will be necessary to provide evidence as to why the decision to terminate the tenant’s rental agreement was necessary must be given to an adjudicator at a hearing.

All notices are required to be put in writing.

Assignments and Sublets

Landlords are not allowed to deny a tenant’s request for a sublet or assignment without good reason, though they are allowed to charge tenants any expenses they incur as a result of subletting or assigning.

Rent Increases: Notice and Timing

A notification period of three months is required when increasing rent. A landlord is not allowed to increase rent during a fixed-term agreement, more than once every 12 months, or during the first 12 months of a week-to-week or month-to-month tenancy.

Late Rent Payments

Rent can be considered late when it has not been paid by the second day after it is due. Fees for late payments are set at $5.00 for the first day it is late and $2.00 for each additional day up to a maximum amount of $75.00. The landlord can charge the tenant a fee, which cannot go over $25.00, for a non-sufficient funds (NSF) cheque.

Evictions

If the tenant fails to move out after receiving a valid notice from the landlord, in order to evict the tenant, the landlord is required to complete an application, pay $20, and attend a hearing held within 20 km of the rental property with sufficient evidence to warrant such action. An order will be given for eviction as a result of the hearing, and it will state the specific reasons for the decision that is issued. The certified order can be enforced by the local Sheriff’s Office to forcibly evict the tenant, if necessary. If the tenant disagrees with the adjudicator’s determination, they can apply to the Director of Residential Tenancies for a reconsideration, which states the reasons and/or may appeal to the Trial Division of the Newfoundland Supreme Court. An Order of Possession, which will grant the eviction, can take up to one week to complete. A majority of other types of orders can take anywhere from three to four weeks, depending on their complexity.

All hearings are informal and parties usually represent themselves with no outside representation. These hearings allow for both parties (landlord and tenant) to present their cases as well as any evidence they may have. An information officer provides information on what types of evidence may be present.

Fine Points

Landlord Entry

Landlords are allowed to enter a tenant’s premises at any time, provided it is an emergency. In order to access the rental unit for inspection purposes, a landlord has to give 24-hours written notice and enter during reasonable hours, which are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. If Notice of Termination has been given to the tenant or landlord, a total of four hours notice is required to show the premises for prospective renters or buyers.

May the tenant withhold rent for repairs?

No. The tenant is required to provide the landlord with a written list of repairs and the rent has to be up to date. If repairs are not done by the landlord, the tenant has the option of applying to the Service NL for rent to be paid in trust to the Section until all of the repairs are taken care of.

Changing Locks

This is not allowed without the consent of the landlord and tenant.

Pets and Smoking

Is a landlord allowed to refuse to rent to a tenant who has pets?

Yes. If there is not a no-pets clause in the rental agreement, or if the agreement does not cover this issue, the tenant can have pets in the unit.

Can a landlord include a no-smoking clause in the lease?

Yes.

If there is a no pets and no smoking clause written in the lease and the landlord finds out that the tenant has a pet and/or is smoking in the unit, can the landlord legally evict the tenant?

Yes, but only if the rental agreement stipulates that the tenant cannot have any pets or smoke in the unit and the tenant blatantly disregards the rule by smoking and/or brining a pet back to the unit. If this is the case, the landlord can give a written notice to the tenant to comply with these aspects of the lease. If the tenant fails to comply with the notice, the landlord has the option of giving one rental period written notice of termination to the tenant under breach of material covenant to evict them.



Contact Information

Residential Tenancies Act
http://www.assembly.nl.ca/legislation/sr/statutes/r14-1.htm
(See provincial contact, above.)

Residential Tenancies Section, Nfld.
This site contains department information and practical information for landlords and tenants.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/residential_tenancies.html
(See provincial contact, above.)

Security Deposit Interest Regulations
This excerpt from the Residential Tenancies Act states the annual interest to be paid on security deposits and how the interest is to be calculated. The official version is not available online.
http://www.assembly.nl.ca/legislation/sr/regulations/rc000071.htm

Residential Tenancies Offices (RTO)
Contact information can be found under the Landlord and Tenants section on this page.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/department/contact.html#Landlord_and_Tenants

The Rental Agreement
Information on rental agreements, with links to related documents.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/agreement.html

Termination Notices
This is another excerpt from the Residential Tenancies Act, with a synopsis summary.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/term_notice.html

Security Deposits
A plain language explanation of security deposits.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/sec_deposit.pdf

Security Deposit Interest Calculator
This online calculator lets you punch in timelines and the deposit amount to calculate the amount of interest owed.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/deposit-calc.asp

Human Rights Commission
Web site of the commission, which can help with landlord-tenant abuses that violate the Human Right's Code.
http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/eng/content/potential-complaints

For general information about renting in Newfoundland and Labrador contact:

Department of Government Services —
Consumer &
Commercial Affairs Branch
Consumer Affairs Division
Residential Tenancies Section
P.O. Box 8700
149 Smallwood Drive
St. John's, Newfoundland
A1B 4J6
Toll-free: 1-877-829-2608
Tel.: 709-729-2600, 1-877-968-2600
Fax: 709-729-6998
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/index.html
See Web site for all office locations.



Residential Tenancies Act
http://www.assembly.nl.ca/legislation/sr/statutes/r14-1.htm
(See provincial contact, above.)

Residential Tenancies Section, Nfld.
This site contains department information and practical information for landlords and tenants.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/residential_tenancies.html
(See provincial contact, above.)

Security Deposit Interest Regulations
This excerpt from the Residential Tenancies Act states the annual interest to be paid on security deposits and how the interest is to be calculated. The official version is not available online.
http://www.assembly.nl.ca/legislation/sr/regulations/rc000071.htm

Residential Tenancies Offices (RTO)
Contact information can be found under the Landlord and Tenants section on this page.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/department/contact.html#Landlord_and_Tenants

The Rental Agreement
Information on rental agreements, with links to related documents.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/agreement.html

Termination Notices
This is another excerpt from the Residential Tenancies Act, with a synopsis summary.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/term_notice.html

Security Deposits
A plain language explanation of security deposits.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/sec_deposit.pdf

Security Deposit Interest Calculator
This online calculator lets you punch in timelines and the deposit amount to calculate the amount of interest owed.
http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/landlord/deposit-calc.asp

Human Rights Commission
Web site of the commission, which can help with landlord-tenant abuses that violate the Human Right's Code.
http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/eng/content/potential-complaints