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Can I agree to a rent increase above the guideline?

Question
Can I agree to a rent increase above the guideline?

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Reviewed: 
August, 2015
Answer

If you are protected by the rent guideline and your landlord asks you to agree to a higher increase, you can say no. You do not have to agree or sign anything.

If you do not agree, your landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for permission to raise the rent by more than the guideline.

An agreement for a rent increase above the guideline must say what you are getting in return. The agreement must also follow certain rules.

Types of rent increase agreements

The law allows two different kinds of agreement to raise the rent by more than the guideline.

One type of agreement is a rent increase in exchange for improvements to your unit or building. For example, the agreement might say your landlord is giving you new kitchen cupboards or a washer and dryer.

The other type of agreement is a rent increase in exchange for certain things that are included on a government list. The list could change, but here are some examples:

  • parking space
  • cable or satellite television
  • air conditioner
  • extra electricity used by an air conditioner, washer, or dryer
  • lockers, storage space, or extra floor space

1. Figure out which type of agreement it is

Check if you will get something that is on this list if you agree to the rent increase:

  • cable television
  • satellite television
  • air conditioner
  • extra electricity for an air conditioner
  • extra electricity for a washer or dryer in the rental unit
  • blockheater plug-ins
  • lockers or other storage space
  • heat
  • electricity
  • water or sewage services, excluding capital work
  • floor space
  • property taxes for a site for a mobile home or a land lease home
  • parking space

All these items, except parking space, are on a list that the government can change any time.

Reviewed: 
October, 2016

2. Check the rules for that type of agreement

If the improvement you are getting is not on the list, then these are the rules:

  • The agreement must be in writing on a Form N10 from the Landlord and Tenant Board.
  • You can cancel the agreement if you tell your landlord in writing within 5 days after signing the agreement.
  • The increase cannot start until the 6th day after you signed the agreement.
  • The increase cannot be more than the guideline plus 3%.
  • The increase cannot start until 12 months have passed since your last rent increase or since you first moved in.

If the improvement you are getting is on the list, then the rules are different:

  • The agreement does not have to be in writing. But it is safer if you get it in writing.
  • You do not have the right to cancel the agreement within 5 days.
  • The increase can start right away or on any date you and your landlord agree on.
  • The increase cannot be more than the landlord's actual cost. But if there is no cost to the landlord, or the cost can't be determined, the increase must be a "reasonable" amount.
  • If you and your landlord later agree that your landlord will stop providing the service or item, your rent must go back down.
  • The 12-month rule does not apply. It doesn't matter if you had a rent increase less than 12 months ago. And your landlord does not have to wait another 12 months before raising your rent again.

With either type of agreement, your landlord does not have to give you 90 days' written notice of the increase.

Reviewed: 
January, 2017
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3. Figure out if the rent increase is worth it

Before you make either kind of agreement, it is helpful to think of what the cost of the rent increase will be over time. Figure out how much you will have paid for the item, improvement, or service after a year or more, and decide if it is worth that much to you.

Your rent does not go back down when the improvement has been paid for, unless the agreement says that it will. So you could be paying the increase for as long as you live there.

These increases can be added to other kinds of increases, such as a guideline increase or an above-guideline increase allowed by the Board.

Make sure what your landlord is offering is not something that is already included in your rental agreement or that your landlord is legally responsible for, such as normal maintenance and repairs.

Reviewed: 
October, 2016
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4. If you already made an agreement

If you think you are not getting what you agreed to, or if your landlord unfairly pressured or misled you into making the agreement, you can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to get some money back.

Reviewed: 
October, 2016
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Learn more about this topic
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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