Tenant rights and landlord rights in northwest territories


NOTE:

In the Northwest Territories (NTW), the private market is made up of 53% rental housing and the other 47% is made up of subsidized public housing (low-cost, low-income housing). In certain communities throughout NWT, public housing is made up of mostly the rental market, with a minimal private rental market. Subsidized Public Housing is exempt from some sections of the Residential Tenancies Act. Local Housing Organizations, Authorities and Associations administer Public Housing, following guidelines that were established by the NWT Housing Corporation. The rent for public housing is determined by the household income of the family living in the units. The public is required to contact the individual organizations to confirm available of this type of housing as well as eligibility requirements.

Governing or Regulatory Body

Department of Justice, Government of the Northwest Territories

NWT Rental Office

Name of Act / Regulations

  • Residential Tenancies Act and Regulations

Types of Housing/Living Arrangements Covered by the Provincial Legislation

All residential rental properties

Exclusions: Hotels, motels, tourist homes, hostels, temporary shelters; co-op housing (unless the tenant is not a member of a co-op); living quarters rented to hospital staff and their families, either seasonally or on a shared basis, or to staff and students that attend a school on such a basis; living quarters on commercial property and occupied by an employee or contractor, for the purpose of doing work related to the business; living quarters that are attached to a rented business space and rented out to the tenant under a single tenancy agreement including both the commercial space as well as living quarters; living accommodation that is occupied by a person for penal, correctional, rehabilitative or therapeutic reasons for the purpose of receiving treatment/care.

Special rules apply to:

  • Subsidized public housing units—operating under the NWT Housing Corporation and its agents;
  • Properties that are the only personal dwelling of the landlord in the NWT
  • Properties that are provided by the employer as a benefit for employees

Types of Rental Periods

Tenancy agreements can be periodic, meaning week-to-week or month-to-month, or they can be what is known as a ‘fixed term’, which is when the tenancy ends on a specific date, pre-determined date.

Is a signed lease required?

No. There is the option of a written rental agreement, but it is not required. A written rental agreement is ideal, but the law does not demand it. A majority of landlords require tenants to sign a written lease. An approved tenancy agreement is included in the regulations.

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

Yes. There must be an initial and final inspection of the rental property with a signed document detailing the findings. Both the landlord and tenant must go through the property together to evaluate the condition of the property as well as sign the document after the inspections have been completed. If the required reports are not completed in full, the landlord has no right to deduct any repair costs from the deposit or pet deposit when the tenancy agreement ends.

Deposits

The amount for a security deposit cannot exceed that of one month’s rent, unless the property is being rented on a weekly basis, in which case the total amount of the deposit cannot be more than the value of one week’s rent. Landlords that rent out subsidized housing can use the true market value of the rent when calculating the security deposit.

NOTE:

If the tenancy is for more than week-to-week, the tenant has the option to pay half the security deposit when the tenant moves in and the rest within the next three months.

A pet damage deposit can be charged, but it cannot be more than 50% of the monthly rent.

The landlord must, within 10 days of the tenant moving out of the rental property:

  • Return the full amount of the security deposit and pet damage deposit to the tenant (interest on the deposits are calculated based on regulations) and
  • Provide the tenant with an itemized statement of account for any part of the security deposit that is being kept by the landlord

A landlord has the right to keep all or part of the security deposit to pay for repairs of damage that is caused by the tenant to the rental property as well as for any outstanding rent that needs to be paid.

Key Money

It is illegal to require key money or any deposit other than a security deposit from tenants.

Post-dated Cheques

Landlords are allowed to request post-dated cheques from tenants, but they are not required to provide them.

Renewal of a Lease

When a tenancy agreement comes to an end on the date specific in the lease, the landlord and tenant can renew it on the specific date as a month-to-month tenancy, unless a new term agreement is entered into or the tenancy agreement is terminated for whatever reason.

Exceptions: Automatic renewal does not apply to public housing tenancy agreements that are made for a term period of 31 days or less, tenancy agreements for housing that is essentially an employee benefit, or tenancy agreements where the landlord is renting their only place of residence in the NWT.

Terminating a Tenancy (Lease): Notice and Timing

Tenants can end a tenancy agreement by providing the landlord with written notice. The length of the time that a tenant must give notice by depends on the type of tenancy.

  • Landlords can end a tenancy without notice, but only if they are renting subsidized housing that is their only residence.
  • The notice to terminate the rental agreement must be put in writing with the name of the premises being rented as well as the date the agreement is set to expire with a signature.
  • The termination notice must also have the reason for termination listed on it.

Notice given by Tenancy agreement Notice required
Tenant
Monthly Written notice must be given on last day of the month with 30 days prior notification to the termination date.
Weekly Written notice must be given on the last day of the week with 7 days prior notification before the termination date.
Term Written notice to terminate must be given on the last day of a term with 30 days prior notification before the termination date.
Landlord who has rented his/her only residence in the NWT
Monthly/Weekly Written notice must be given on the last day of a rent period with at least 90 days prior notification before the termination date.
Term Written notice must be given to terminate at the end of the term with 30 days prior notification before the termination date.
Subsidized Public Housing Landlord
Monthly/Weekly Written notice must be given on the last day of a rent period 30 days before the termination date.
Term Written notice must be given 30 days in advance before the termination date.
Term of 31 days or less No prior notification is required. Tenancy agreement can be terminated at the end of the term.
Landlord: Premises are provided by the landlord as a benefit of employment Term or periodic No prior notification is required. The tenancy agreement can be terminated when the employment agreement expires.

Assignments and Sublets

Tenants are allowed to sublet the rental property if the landlord agrees. If the landlord denies the request for a sublet, the tenant has the right to appeal to and get permission from the Rental Officer. When a tenant sublets the property they are renting, they assume responsibility to the landlord for rent as well as any breaches of the rental agreement by the sub-tenant.

Tenants are also able to assign their tenancy with consent from the landlord. If the landlord denies the assignment, the tenant can appeal to and get permission from the Rental Officer. When a tenancy is assigned, the former tenant transfers all of his or her rights and duties to the new tenant. Landlords can charge the tenant for granting their permission for a sublease or assignment, but the fee cannot exceed $50.00.

Assignments or subletting agreements as well as permission from the landlord is required to be in writing. Agreements have to be signed by the tenant and the sub-tenant and attached to a copy of the written rental agreement.

Tenants in Public Housing as well as Staff Housing units are not allowed to sublet or assign their rental units.

Rent Increases: Notice and Timing

A landlord is not allowed to increase the rent more than once every 12 months. The landlord is required to give the tenant 3 month’s advance written notice when raising rent. A tenant who receives a proper notice of rent increase can treat the notification as a notice to terminate tenancy. In order to terminate the tenancy, the rent is required to provide the landlord with written notice of this decision. The landlord is allowed to re-rent the premises, but has to keep the rent for the new tenant at the same level stated in the notice.

Late Rent Payments

A tenant who pays his or her rent later than the date agreed upon in the lease is subject to penalties/late fees. The penalty is not allowed to exceed $5 with an additional $1 for each day the rent is late, for a maximum of $65.

Evictions

If the tenant refuses to leave after a tenancy agreement has been terminated in accordance with the Act, the landlord is required to obtain an eviction order from a rental officer. If an eviction order is granted to the landlord, a “writ of possession” from the NWT Supreme Court Clerk is required as well. The landlord must deliver the Order of Eviction and Writ to the Sheriff personally. The Sheriff must first make a reasonable request to be let inside the premises, but may then also use force to open the door to the property, if necessary. Resisting the Sheriff in these circumstances can lead to criminal charges.

Fine Points

Landlord Entry

Landlords can enter the rental property between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. A landlord must give written notice to the tenant with 24 hour prior notification before the entry time, detailing the purpose of the entry, the days and hours during which the landlord will be entering the premises. A tenant has the option to specify alternative days and hours that are more reasonable and convenient for the tenant.

A landlord has the right to enter a rental property when:

  • Performing obligations specified under the Act and rental agreement
  • Inspecting the rental property where the tenant has requested consent to do an assignment or sublet the unit.
  • Showing the rental unit to prospective renters.
  • Inspecting the rental property every six months
  • Permitting a mortgagee or an insurer to inspect the property where a mortgage or insurance coverage is being arranged.
  • Inspecting the rental property on the day the tenant moves out.

A landlord has a legal right to enter the rental property without giving prior notification where:

  • There is an emergency
  • The tenant agrees at the time the entry takes place
  • The landlord has a valid reason to believe that the tenant has moved out or abandoned the property.

May the tenant withhold rent for repairs?

No. Tenants are, however, allowed to file an application to forward the rent to the Rental Officer until the dispute is resolved.

Changing Locks

This is not allowed. Locks on a rental property can only be changed with consent from both the tenant and landlord. A landlord or tenant cannot change the locks on any entrance to the residential complex in an effort to interfere with each other’ access to the complex.

Pets and Smoking

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

The law pertaining to this particular issue only applies when a rental agreement is made and does not regulate or mention how a landlord chooses his or her tenants. The Act does not prevent a landlord from refusing to rent to people bringing pets with them.

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, a tenant who has already signed a lease with a no pets and/or no smoking clause and has breached the agreement can be evicted for the violation.

Other

The Residential Tenancies Act first came into effect on February 6, 1998. In an effort to encourage out-of-court settlements, the Act established a new office and a new set of procedures for handling certain issues. The Rental Officer is granted a number of powers that were held only by the courts in the past. The Rental Officer provides information, mediates and acts as a judge according to the circumstances. In cases where both parties cannot reach an agreement through meditation, the Rental Officer is required to hold a hearing. At this point in the process, the Rental Officer takes on the role of a judge.



Contact Information

For general information about renting in the Northwest Territories contact:

NWT Rental Office
3rd Floor
YK Centre East (formerly Panda II)
Box 1920
Yellowknife, NT
X1A 2P4
Toll Free: 1-800-661-0760
Tel.: 867-920-8047
Fax: 867-873-0489
http://www.nwtrentaloffice.nt.ca



Northwest Territories Housing Corporation
This organization plays a role in public housing. See Web site for listing of district offices. Its headquarters is located at:

5102 – 50 Avenue
P.O. Box 2100
Yellowknife, NT
X1A 2P6
Tel.: 1-866-956-9842
http://nwthc.gov.nt.ca

Programs
An overview of programs offered by the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, including the assisted rental programs and the Sale of Public Housing Initiative.
http://www.nwthc.gov.nt.ca/_live/pages/wpPages/Programs.aspx

The Residential Tenancies Act for the NWT can be found on the Internet at:
http://www.justice.gov.nt.ca/PDF/ACTS/Residential%20Tenancies.pdf