The following Tenant Guide is intended to be a simplified explanation of some key aspects of renting in Manitoba. This guide is not meant to replace the Residential Tenancies Act as a tenant’s main source of information on renting in Manitoba.
If you have a conflict with your landlord, or if you have questions about your rental situation, you can also call the Residential Tenancies Branch for help at (204) 945-2476. The Residential Tenancies Branch is responsible for enforcing Landlord & Renter regulations found in The Residential Tenancies Act.
The Independent Tenant Advisor Office is a new office in Winnipeg created to help tenants get important information and advice, help them file claims and get ready for hearings.
The independent tenant advisor is someone who will help tenants when they are going through the hearing or dispute resolution process at the Residential Tenancies Branch or the Residential Tenancies Commission. The advisor will help tenants to decide what evidence they will need for a hearing and how to organize it. Sometimes, they will help the tenant present the evidence at the hearing. Phone: (204) 881-1714. Email.
The Tenant Guide, listed below, has been adapted from a guide compiled by the North End Community Renewal Corporation for its Tenant Landlord Cooperation (TLC) program. The Tenant Guide is a work in progress so please check back for any further update of the document.
Tenant Guide contents:
What are you responsible for?
General Tenant responsibilities include:
- Pay the rent on time, on or before the first day of the month.
- A landlord may charge a fee for late payment. The fee may be a maximum of $10.00 for the day the rent is due, and $2.00 for each additional day up to a maximum of $100.00. (The landlord must inform you about the fee in the lease agreement or in the ‘house rules’ that are attached to the lease agreement.)
- Respect the suite and the building.
- Keep the suite, and appliances clean.
- Keep the yard clean, cut grass, and shovel snow from sidewalks.
- Pay for or repair all damage you or your guests cause within a reasonable time.
- Make sure you and your guests do not disturb other people in the building or neighboring properties.
- Do not do anything that endangers the safety of others in the building.
- Live up to all tenancy agreements and The Residential Tenancies Act.
- Notify caretaker or landlord as soon as possible of necessary repairs.
- Redecorate (paint, etc) your suite only with the consent of the landlord.
- Be aware of your landlord’s pet policies.
- Do not change or add locks before getting permission from your landlord.
- Do not allow anyone who is not on the lease to live in the suite.
- Obey your landlord’s reasonable rules and regulations, as stated in your lease.
What is the Landlord Responsible for?
General Landlord responsibilities include:
- Make the suite ready for the tenant on the date the tenant is to move in.
- Provide a written receipt when rent is paid in cash; the receipt should include the amount of rent received, the date received, and the address of the rental unit and complex.
- Do repairs within a reasonable time frame and keep the unit in good condition.
- Ensure the supply of essential services (heat, gas, electricity, hot and cold water) and any other public utilities that the landlord is required to provide.
- Not interfere with the supply of essential services.
- Allow a tenant or a member of a tenant’s household to enjoy the use of the rental unit and the complex for all normal purposes.
- Investigate complaints of disturbance or endangering of safety as soon as possible and try to resolve the problem.
- Provide and maintain doors and locks to make a rental unit reasonably secure.
- Live up to tenancy agreements and The Residential Tenancies Act.
When would the RTB get involved?
The Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB) is Manitoba’s rental authority, and they investigate, mediate, and make decisions on disputes between tenants and landlords over security deposits, repairs, the terms and conditions of a tenancy agreement (lease), notices to move, privacy and payment of utility bills.
You can contact the RTB for help in the following areas:
- To get information on tenant’s and landlord’s rights and responsibilities.
- To get information on Orders the RTB issued against specific landlords or apartment complexes.
- To file a claim for compensation against a landlord if you suffered a loss because of a landlord’s failure to perform an obligation under the tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act.
- To ask for help if a landlord:
- Won’t do required repairs.
- Doesn’t pay utility bills and a utility company has, or is threatening to, shut off a service that is included in your rent (hydro, water, gas, etc.)
- Locks you out of your unit or takes your personal belongings without proper cause and notice.
- Fails to return a damage deposit at the end of a tenancy.
- Increases rent without three months notice.
- Increases rent by more than the annual rent increase guideline allows.
- Does not comply with any of their obligations under a tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act.
- Doesn’t supply a condition report for the rental unit.
Signing a tenancy agreement/Ending a tenancy agreement
A tenancy agreement can be written, oral or implied. A written tenancy agreement must be signed by the landlord and yourself. The landlord must sign the tenancy agreement and give you a copy within 21 days of the signing it. A standard residential tenancy agreement provides information on:
- the date the tenancy begins and ends;
- the amount of the rent and the date it must be paid;
- what is included in the rent;
- the names of the people who will live in the rental unit with you;
- the utilities you are responsible to pay; and
- rules and conditions from The Residential Tenancies Act as well as the landlord’s own reasonable house rules.
There are generally two types of tenancy agreements:
Periodic tenancy: This applies to both month-to month, and week-to-week. A payment period begins on the day rent is due, and ends the day before the next rent is due. To end an agreement you must give one full rental payment period’s notice. You must give your notice on the last day of the rental payment period to move out on the last day of the next rental payment period.
Fixed term tenancy: You are responsible for the rent until the end of the lease, usually one year. You cannot move out until the lease is up, or until you sublet the unit.
Ending an agreement
In certain cases, you may be able to end tenancy with less notice. If the rental unit is in such bad condition that it is impossible to live in, you may be able to move out immediately. You should contact the appropriate inspection agency to find out if the unit’s condition is bad enough to terminate the tenancy. If you terminate the tenancy because a landlord hasn’t met their obligations, you may file a claim with the RTB to be compensated for moving costs. If you are planning on filing a claim for compensation, you should be certain to keep receipts for everything. Compensation may be claimed for:
- Renting a vehicle
- Hiring professional movers
- The cost of transferring utility or service connections
- The cost of filing a change of address with Canada Post
- Other reasonable expenses (the cost of gas, the cost of food for people helping with the move, etc)
If you give notice and move late, or fail to move at all, then you are responsible for compensating the landlord for any losses caused. Other instances where you may end the tenancy before the lease is over include:
- Landlord withdraws a service. If a landlord removes a service that you feel you cannot do without, like an elevator in the case of someone who cannot climb stairs, you may ask the RTB to end the tenancy.
- Rent increase above the guideline. If a landlord is approved by the RTB to raise the rent above the set guidelines for rent increases, you may end your lease by giving two rental payment periods of notice. You may give this notice at any time from the date you received notice that the landlord has applied (or intends to apply) for the increase to 14 days after you receive the RTB’s decision on the landlord’s application.
- Application for approval of a rehabilitation scheme. When a landlord plans to make major improvements to a rental unit of complex, they may apply to the RTB for a temporary exemption from the rental increase guidelines, allowing them to raise rents to balance the costs of the improvements. You may end your tenancy with a notice of two rental payment periods. You may give notice at any time from the date that you receive notice of the landlords application to the RTB to 14 days after you receive the first or final order from the RTB on the landlord’s application.
- Reduction of income because of illness or death. If you or someone in your household becomes ill or dies and cannot afford the rent, you can give at least one rental payment period to move out. In the case of illness, you must give the landlord a doctor’s certificate about the illness with the notice.
- Landlord not meeting obligations. If a landlord is failing to meet any obligations, you may give one rental payment period of notice to end the lease. You must first give the landlord a written demand to perform the obligation within a reasonable amount of time. You should keep a copy of the written demand for your records. You should try to document anything that proves the landlord is failing to meet obligations. If you move because of this, you may file for compensation with the RTB for moving expenses.
- The landlord gives you notice because the unit will be converted, demolished, renovated or used as the landlord’s home. If the landlord serves notice for any of these reasons, the landlord must give three months notice. If you would like to move before then you may give the landlord one rental payment period of notice before moving.
- A landlord does not offer a tenancy agreement renewal. A landlord is required to offer you a tenancy agreement renewal at least three months before your lease is up. If a landlord does not do this, you may move without notice once the lease has expired. If you stay in the unit, the tenancy agreement is automatically renewed for another term (usually one year). When a lease is renewed in this way, you only need to give one rental payment period of notice to move.
Renewing an agreement: If the tenancy agreement is for a fixed term, the landlord must give you a new tenancy agreement no later than three (3) months before the end date of the existing agreement.
The new agreement must be for the same length of time and include the same benefits and obligations as the existing agreement. The landlord must advise you in writing that if you plan to stay in the rental unit, the new agreement must be signed and returned to the landlord at least two (2) months before the end of the existing agreement. If you do not sign and return the new agreement to the landlord as required, the tenancy is terminated.
If the landlord does not give you a new tenancy agreement and you continue to live in the rental unit after the end of the existing agreement, the existing agreement is renewed for another term. The term of the renewed agreement is the same term as the term of the original agreement or 12 months, whichever is less. You may give notice of one rental payment period to end an agreement that is automatically renewed because the landlord failed to provide a renewal.
Subletting and Assigning Leases
If you need to move before your agreement is up then you must get the landlord’s written permission to assign or sublet the place to another person. A landlord can’t refuse without a good reason. The landlord has the right to charge a fee of up to $75.00 for the assignment or sublet.
An assignment is when you do not plan to move back in. Here’s what happens :
- you find a new tenant to take your place;
- you must obtain the landlord’s written approval for the new tenant; the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent;
- the landlord takes a new security deposit from the new tenant; the security deposit is not transferred from you to the new tenant;
- the landlord, new tenant and yourself, sign the “Assignment of Tenancy Agreement” part of the lease;
- once you do an outgoing condition report with the landlord and the new tenant takes over the lease, then you are no longer responsible for the lease.
A sublet is when you move out for a while and then move back in. Here’s what happens :
- you give another tenant permission to live in your apartment or house for an agreed upon time;
- you must obtain the landlord’s written approval for the sub-tenant; the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent;
- the landlord, the subletting tenant and yourself, sign the “subletting agreement” part of the lease;
- you are still responsible for the lease and any damage to the property, even though you are not living there;
- you must charge the subletting tenant the same rent that you paid;
- the landlord keeps the security deposit in your name.
Condition inspection report
A condition report is a written, detailed description of the condition of a rental unit when the tenant moves in and out. Law does not require it unless asked for by either the tenant or landlord. A condition report can help protect you from being blamed for damages that happened before you move in.
Ideally, you and the landlord should inspect the rental unit carefully to identify any damages before you move in. It is in your interest to list as much damage as possible to prevent being blamed for it on moving out. Both you and the landlord should sign and you should receive a copy of the report.
Normal Wear and Tear: Generally normal wear and tear is considered to be any gradual damage resulting from normal use that is not caused by negligence or miss-use. More specific guidelines may be written into the tenancy agreement.
A landlord may or may not ask you to pay a security deposit before you move in. The landlord will hold this money until you move out. This money protects the landlord if you:
- Do not pay the rent
- Leave without notice
- Cause damage
- Do not clean up properly when you leave
The landlord may only ask for a security deposit before you move in, or when the tenancy agreement is transferred to another person (sublet). A security deposit cannot be more than one half of a month’s rent. The landlord must give you a receipt that shows the amount of the security deposit, the date received, and the address of the rental unit.
The landlord must calculate the interest on the security deposit for the period of time from when the deposit was received until the deposit was returned. The government sets the interest rate paid on the security deposit.
The security deposit must be returned to you within 14 days of the end of the tenancy, unless you owe rent, have damaged the rental unit, or have left the unit dirty. If the landlord makes a claim on the damage deposit, you must be told of the claim within 28 days of the end of tenancy. If you do not agree with the landlord’s claim on the security deposit, they can ask the Residential Tenancies Branch to make a decision on who should get the security deposit and interest.
You may use your security deposit for your last month’s rent if the landlord agrees to it in writing.
Warning on paying rent
You have to pay all the rent, on time, on or before the first day of the month. If you pay your rent in cash, make sure to get a receipt each time. If you do not pay your rent, the landlord can give you a notice to move and/or charge late penalties.
** Do not withhold rent because of a dispute with the landlord (i.e. not fixing things). The landlord can respond by pursuing an eviction order, which will be upheld by the Residential Tenancies Branch.
Notice to move: The landlord can give this notice when you are more than three days late. A notice of termination for non-payment of rent must include:
- the amount of rent you owe;
- the date you are to move out,
- and a statement that says the tenant can disagree with the landlord’s notice.
You may be able to resolve this by paying the rent, however, if you have had a habit of paying late, the landlord can take your rent payment and still follow through with the notice to move.
Late Payment charges
The landlord can charge you a late fee if you are late with paying the rent. The Landlord must have this rule in writing in order to charge a late payment fee. This must be established in either the tenancy agreement or in the house rules. (The house rules are written rules a landlord may have for tenants in addition to the obligations in a tenancy agreement. For example: A tenant may not have a pet in the rental unit.)
Once a tenant knows about the fee, a landlord is entitled to charge it.
Fee Structure . The rate for a late payment fee is set by regulation. The Landlord cannot charge more than what has been set by regulation. A landlord may charge a late payment fee of:
- up to $10.00 for the day the rent was due; and
- up to $2.00 for each day after the due date that the rent is late in any consecutive number of rental payment periods, to a maximum of $100.00.
In most cases, a landlord can legally increase the rent once every 12 months. Each year, the government sets a limit on the amount that rents can be increased. This limit is called a rent increase guideline. If a landlord gives a notice of rent increase, the notice must:
- be in writing
- show how much the rent is now
- show how much the rent is going to be, both in dollars and as a percentage (for example: this is an increase of $15.00 or 3%);
- say how much the landlord is allowed to increase the rent
- give the date the increase starts
- explain that the increase is not legal unless the tenant gets three months’ notice
- show the annual rent increase guideline, for example 1.5%
- say that the tenant has the right to disagree with the amount of the rent increase
The landlord must also give the Residential Tenancies Branch a written notice of the rent increase within 14 days of telling you.
If you disagree with the amount of the increase, you need to give the Residential Tenancies Branch a letter explaining why. The letter must arrive at the Branch at least 60 days before the rent increase is to start.
Landlords who want to increase the rent by more than the maximum must first receive approval from the Residential Tenancies Branch. The landlord must apply in writing for approval. They must apply within 14 days of giving you a rent increase notice. Tenants can see and comment on the landlord’s application for rent increase and landlords can see and comment on any information given by the tenants. The Residential Tenancies Branch will then decide how much the rent can go up. This decision is for all the rental units in the block or complex.
Appealing the decision: If a landlord or tenant disagrees with the rent increase decision, they have the right to appeal to the Residential Tenancies Commission within 14 days of receiving the Residential Tenancies Branch’s decision. The Commission will set up a panel to look at the appeal. Everyone involved will be notified in advance. After the hearing, the Residential Tenancies Commission will make a decision and the Commission’s decision is final.
A landlord must make sure a rental unit meets health, building, maintenance, and occupancy standards. You must repair any damage that you, or your guests, cause in the unit or complex.
Regular Repairs: General maintenance, including wear and tear and appliance repairs (if appliances are included with rent), is the responsibility of the landlord. The landlord must fix anything that is covered by the rent. Also, the landlord must maintain the upkeep of all common areas, including halls, lobbies, stairways, elevators, and laundry rooms to name a few. You should not get involved in such repairs unless they have an agreement with the landlord to do so, or if you (or your guests) have caused the damage.
Do not withhold rent to pay for any repairs! If you hold back any of your rent payment to cover non-emergency repair costs without landlord or court approval, your landlord may apply to have you evicted.
When repairs are needed, you should first call your landlord or caretaker and explain what is wrong and request it be fixed. If the landlord does not respond, or fails to act on promises to make repairs, you should put the request in writing. Retain a copy of the request. If the landlord continues to resist making the necessary repairs, you should contact the Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB) for help.
The RTB will mediate for you and possibly inspect the rental unit. If repairs are needed, the RTB will give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to do the work. If the landlord still does not complete the work, the RTB will order the landlord to complete the work by a certain date. If the landlord continues to refuse to do the required work, the RTB will hire a contractor to do the work, and will then have you send the rent to the RTB to pay for the contractor. The RTB will redirect twice the estimated cost for repairs. In this type of case, your rent is considered paid. You should not send rent to the RTB unless asked to do so.
Aside from the Residential Tenancies Branch, you may also turn to fire, health, and building inspectors for help. These inspectors have the power to order repairs and/or improvements to rental properties.
If you are behind on your rent, the landlord is not obligated to make any non-emergency repairs until the rent is paid in full.
Emergency Repairs: If something in the rental unit breaks, and your health and safety is in danger, it is an emergency repair. If something in the building or complex breaks, putting the property at risk, it is an emergency repair. By law, the landlord should handle and pay for emergency repairs. The following chart compares emergency versus non-emergency repairs:
- Broken pipes that are causing flooding.
- The heating system is not working while it is cold outside.
- The sewage system is backing up into the building.
- A broken lock allows anyone to enter the building or unit without a key.
- Faulty or damaged electrical wiring is creating a threat of fire and/or electrocution.
- The refrigerator is not working (if provided by landlord)
- Interior doors do not close properly.
- A stove element is burnt out.
- A sink has a slow drain.
- A cracked windowpane in an upper window.
- A minor leak or dripping in household plumbing.
- A minor leak in the roof.
- A garage door opener is not working, but manual access still functions.
Try not to panic in the face of emergency repairs. Try to contact the landlord or the emergency contact at least twice, leaving messages if no one is available. Record the date and times of these calls and wait a reasonable amount of time for them to return your call. If repairs need to be done immediately to prevent or reduce personal and property damages then you, or the provincial rental authority, may authorize the work.
If you authorize an emergency repair, you should be sure to keep all related paperwork. If possible, have the repair worker bill the landlord directly. If the repairs must be paid upon completion, you should detail the expenses, notify the landlord and ask for reimbursement. If you are able to reach the landlord before the repairs are finished, the landlord may decide to take over the repairs and pay for the work done.
You should avoid ordering any repairs that are not emergencies, as the landlord could refuse to repay the expenses.
The Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB) may be able to help you in emergency situations. You must fill out repair forms to request aid. In serious cases, you may request aid by telephone. The RTB officer will try to contact the landlord to get the repair done. The officer will inspect the rental unit or complex and decide if the repairs are needed and urgent, and if so, the officer will issue an Order to Repair to the landlord.
If the landlord is unreachable or refuses to do the work, the officer will hire a contractor to do the work using money from the Residential Tenancies Repair Program to pay for it. The officer would then issue an Order to you to pay the rent directly to the RTB to replace the money taken from the Residential Tenancies Repair Program.
The landlord does not have to make any repairs at all if you owe rent, unless there is an immediate health or safety concern to tenants in the complex.
Tenants are entitled to privacy. In most cases, a landlord needs to give no less than 24 hours, and no more than two weeks of notice before they enter a suite. The notice must be in writing, give the reason for the entry, and provide the date and time of the visit. If the landlord needs to enter the unit more than once, the notice must indicate all the proposed entry dates. You have the right to refuse this entry if it is inconvenient, but you must have a valid reason (for example, family is visiting), and you must give the landlord a chance to enter on another day or time. ‘Not being home’ is not a valid reason to stop a landlord from entering a suite. The landlord has the right to enter whether you are home or not, as long as the landlord gives proper notice. If a landlord needs to enter multiple suites, they must give notice to all the tenants; it is not good enough to post a general notice of entry in a common area of the building.
If the landlord enters the suite for an inspection and intends to take pictures of damage, you have the right to refuse to allow the landlord to take pictures of your personal belongings. If the landlord hires someone to do work in the unit, the landlord does not have to stay in the suite until the work is done. The landlord is, however, responsible for the activity of tradepersons.
Notice is not needed:
- If there is an emergency
- If the tenant agrees at the time
- To show the unit to potential renters after a tenant has given or been given notice that they are moving out
- To inspect the premises on the day the tenant is moving out
A landlord can evict you for not paying rent on time. If you are more than four days late in paying the rent, you may be evicted immediately (see “Warning on paying rent” above). A landlord cannot evict you for not paying late fees; the landlord must file a claim for compensation with the RTB.
You may be asked to move out if you write a bad cheque for the security deposit. You will get five days notice, and if you can pay the deposit before then, the eviction notice will be canceled. Other causes for eviction include:
- Not keeping the unit reasonably clean
- Causing damage to the premises
- Disturbing others in the complex or nearby properties
- Changing the locks on the rental unit without permission
- Endangering the safety of others in the rental complex
- Breaking a term of the tenancy agreement (ex: no pets policy)
- Ignoring an important house rule (ex: no barbecuing on the balcony)
- Allowing too many people to live in the unit
- Misrepresenting a rental unit to potential tenants or buyers
- Lying on a rental application
In such cases as the above, the landlord has to give you a written warning and allow a reasonable amount of time for you to correct the problem. If you do not correct the problem, the landlord needs to give you rental payment period of notice to move out.
In some cases, a landlord can evict with less than a rental payment period of notice. If you cause extraordinary damage, risks the health or safety of the landlord or any other tenants, or create an extraordinary disturbance, the landlord may evict with just five days notice. The day the notice is given can’t be counted towards the period of notice. This means that if a landlord gives you a five-day notice to move out on a Monday, you must be out on the next Saturday, not the Friday. If a landlord evicts before the end of the month, the landlord must return the unused portion of the rent.
When giving a notice to move, the landlord must deliver it to the tenant in person. The landlord may also give it to any adult in the rental unit. The notice must have the names of all the tenants living in the suite, but the landlord only needs to deliver one notice to the unit for all the tenants.
The goal of both landlords and tenants should be to work together in a cooperative relationship. Tenants and landlords, and tenants and other tenants, should try to talk with each other about concerns or problems before contacting others for assistance.
The following steps may be useful in helping to resolve conflicts:
- Manage your anger. Showing your anger (swearing, yelling, etc.) will only make you seem more unreasonable and will be a roadblock to resolving any dispute. Take some time to think about your problem and plan your argument. If you are going to lose your temper set another date to talk about the problem to give you more time to calm down.
- Listen to each other. Try not to focus on blame. Clearly explain the problem and how it is affecting you. Listen to the other person’s views without making negative comments or interrupting.
- Identify your needs. Try to understand the other person’s needs and explain your own needs.
- Think of solutions. Work together to come up with possible solutions that please both parties.
- Create a plan. Plan what will be done, who will do it, and when it will be done. Talk about what you will do in the future if more problems come up.