Areas to look out for include:
Duration of agreement: Most rental periods or leases last for 12 months, during which time the landlord cannot increase the rent. It is also important to note the notice periods that either you or the landlord have to give in order to terminate the agreement.
Responsibility for household bills: Some utility services will be included in the rent (e.g. water), while others you may be responsible for paying yourself (e.g. gas, electricity). Make sure you understand what you will be paying and how much it will be.
Forfeiture: If you are deemed to be in breach of your contract, you can be evicted from your accommodation. Be sure you understand what you can and cannot do as detailed in the contract.
Deposit: In most rental agreements in Canada, the landlord will ask for the first and last month’s rent to be paid in advance. This is actually done to collect the deposit that is used to cover any damages you may cause, along with any outstanding debts you may owe at the end of your tenancy.
It is often advisable to request that landlord inspects the property and draw up an inventory with you on the first day of your tenancy. This decreases the likelihood of you being charged for damages not caused by yourself.
Where to get legal help/advice: If you are unsure about the terms of your contract then it is highly advisable to seek legal assistance. One of the best free sources is the provincial rental housing tribunal such as the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal (ORHT). This service offers independent and confidential advice face-to-face or by telephone. For more information see: www.ltb.gov.on.ca.