2024-05-10T15:40:41-04:00Mar 10, 2021|

Understanding your rights as a tenant in Alberta

For many newcomers, finding a place to live is one of the most important tasks you need to attend to once you arrive in Canada. Part of finding safe and comfortable housing for you and your family includes understanding your rights as a tenant. Here’s what you need to know when finding a place in Alberta you’ll be happy with.

In this article:

Want to learn more about how to rent in Canada?
See How to rent your first home as a newcomer in Canada for a step-by-step guide on finding the right approach, identifying where you want to live, and preparing the proper documents. 

Housing guide banner

What documents do you need to rent in Alberta?

Renting a house, apartment, or another type of dwelling in Alberta usually requires you to provide certain documents as part of the application process. These documents will support your financial information and any previous rental history. Here is a list of common documents or information you’ll likely be asked to submit as part of your rental application:

  • Proof of income: You should expect a potential landlord to ask you to provide proof of income, such as copies of recent pay stubs.
  • Bank statement: If you’re self-employed or still looking for a permanent job, you could be asked to provide a copy of a recent bank statement in replace of pay stubs and employment letters. This is a way to show a potential landlord you have sufficient money to pay your rent.
  • References: Similar to applying for jobs, you can expect to be asked for references from a trusted friend or manager who will speak to your character and reliability as a tenant. These references have to be based in Canada. In addition, a landlord could ask for the contact information of a current or previous landlord for the purposes of verifying your suitability as a tenant.
  • Credit report: A full credit report is often requested as part of your rental application. Your credit report is a summary of your credit history, and you’ll be provided with a three-digit number. The higher the number, the better your financial health. A full credit report, which will cost approximately $25 CAD, also shows any debts or bankruptcy. Alternatively, a landlord may request to obtain a full credit check on your behalf. They must have your consent to do this, and you would need to provide your first and last name, address and date of birth.
Tips Icon  Tip:
It takes at least a few weeks to a month for newcomers to receive their first Canadian credit card and a few additional months of credit transactions to generate a credit history. EQUIFAX and TransUnion are the two major credit rating organizations in Canada, and you can choose either one to get your credit report.
Get more information on how to rent without a credit history in Canada
See How to rent an apartment with no credit history or job letter in Canada for tips on how to showcase your reliability as a tenant and where to focus your search.

Eviction rules in Alberta

In Alberta, a landlord can evict a tenant on reasonable grounds, and a tenant has the right to dispute the eviction. The only exception is if the eviction is for non-payment of rent. In this instance, either the tenant or the landlord needs to go through the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) to help resolve the eviction dispute. 

Here are the guidelines on eviction rules in Alberta: 

1. Non-payment of rent

According to the RRTA, a tenant is responsible for paying the rent when it is due. If a tenant fails to make their rent payment, a landlord can evict them. In this case, the landlord must give their tenant 14 days to pay their rent, known as a 14-Day Eviction Notice. A 14 Day Eviction Notice needs to be in writing and includes the following:

  • The address of the property
  • The amount of rent that is due or owed for the rent period
  • The reason for the termination and state the date the tenancy ends. 
  • Is signed by the landlord. 

An eviction notice for non-payment of rent must also state that the tenancy won’t be terminated if the overdue rent is paid before or on the termination date. 

2. Breach of tenancy agreement

A tenancy agreement can also be terminated for breach of the agreement, such as significant damage to the property, not keeping the rental property reasonably clean, illegal activity on behalf of the tenant or their guests, interfering with the rights of other tenants or the landlord. In these instances, a landlord can issue a 14 Day Eviction Notice. However, unlike an eviction notice for unpaid rent, a tenant can object to this notice if they don’t agree with the reason for the termination. Their objections must be in writing and sent to the landlord before the 14 days are up. If an objection notice is served, it would then be up to the landlord to apply to the RTDRS or Provincial Court Civil to terminate the tenancy. 

3. Serious damage or threats 

If a tenant has caused significant damage to the property, physically assaulted the landlord or another tenant, or threatened to do so, they can issue a 24-hour notice to terminate the tenancy. If a tenant doesn’t leave when the 24-hour notice is up, then the landlord can apply for a court order within 10 days to end the tenancy. Otherwise, the tenant can continue living in the property. A tenant is also unable to object to a 24-hour eviction notice. 

4. Personal use 

If you have a periodic tenancy agreement, your landlord may evict you if they or one of their close family members (defined as a spouse, child and other dependents or relatives, including in-laws) wishes to move into the lodgings themselves. 

5. Sale of property

A landlord can evict you if the property you are renting is sold and the new purchaser or their close family member wants to occupy the property. The buyer must ask the landlord in writing to give the tenant a notice to end the agreement.

6. Major renovations 

If the landlord wishes to do major renovations on the property that require the building to be empty (this does not include things like painting or regular maintenance), they must give the tenant one year’s notice to terminate a periodic tenancy agreement.

Your responsibilities as a tenant in Alberta

While landlords certainly have a responsibility to their tenants, similarly as a tenant, you also have responsibilities to the landlord if renting a property in Alberta. They include:

  • Paying your rent on time and in full on the date it is due.
  • Act reasonably and not disturb other tenants or the landlord in the building.
  • Not engage in illegal acts or conduct an illegal business on the property.
  • Keep the rental property reasonably clean.
  • Prevent and repair any damages you or any of your guests may cause.
  • Move out when the rental agreement ends. 

What is covered by a rental lease?

In Alberta, a tenancy agreement can either be a periodic agreement, where there is no specific end date and usually go from month-to-month, or a fixed-term agreement, which has a specific beginning and end date. While a tenancy agreement can be verbal in Alberta, it is advisable to get an agreement in writing. Unlike other provinces, there is no standard tenancy form for renting in Alberta. However, a landlord can purchase a form for a fee from certain organizations, such as the Alberta Residential Landlord Association or the Calgary Residential Rental Association. 

Here is some of the information it should include: 

Lease Component Description
Parties to the agreement The name of the landlord and the tenant, as well as the address of the property.
Terms Whether the agreement is a fixed-term or periodic agreement.
Rent The amount of rent due each month, when it is due, and how it will be paid.
Utilities Specifies that the tenant is responsible for utilities such as gas, electricity, water, cable, and they will pay on demand to the appropriate company for these services.
Appliances Outlines which appliances are covered in the rental agreement, which are supplied by the landlord.
Responsibility for maintenance A clause that outlines the tenant is responsible for keeping the premises reasonably clean and may be responsible for maintenance to the property such as replacing light bulbs, shovelling snow or cutting the grass, and accidental or wilful damage to the property.
Tenant insurance Outlines whether the tenant is responsible for obtaining proper liability insurance when renting a property and provide a copy of insurance as proof to the landlord.
Notice to sublease The conditions under which a tenant can sublease the property to someone else.
Rules and regulations An additional section could be added that outlines the rules and regulations a tenant must follow when renting the property, such as removing garbage, notifying the landlord of any repairs, being considerate of other tenants, or observing fire safety measures.
Signatures All parties sign and date the lease agreement.

What is included in a lease in Alberta?

When renting a property in Alberta, you and your landlord should be following the guidelines set up by the RTA. Here are some clauses or conditions that can and cannot be included in a lease in Alberta: 

Clauses that can be included in a lease 

The following clauses can be included in a lease in Alberta:

  • Subletting & occupancy: Whether the tenant requires the permission of the landlord to sublease the property and any conditions on occupancy limits, which ensures each tenant has been screened by the landlord.
  • Utilities: Outlines if the tenant pays for utilities such as gas, water, heat, electricity and cable and also states they are responsible for making prompt payment to the relevant companies or the landlord for these expenses.
  • Smoking: A landlord may include a non-smoking clause in the lease, including tobacco and the use of cannabis, which is legal in Canada.
  • Pets: Whether a landlord will allow pets and if there are any restrictions on the size or breed of pet.
  • Pet fee: While a landlord cannot legally charge a deposit for pets, they are permitted to charge a non-refundable fee in addition to a security deposit.

Clauses that cannot be included or changed in a lease 

The following clauses cannot be included in a lease:

  • Guests: A landlord cannot include a clause restricting a tenant from having guests, roommates or additional occupants, such as a family member. However, if the landlord has reason to believe someone has moved into the property and is not on the tenancy agreement, they can take steps to remove them.
  • Additional deposits: A landlord in Alberta is only legally allowed to ask for the equivalent of up to one month’s rent as a refundable security deposit.
  • Payment for repairs: A landlord is not permitted to request a tenant pay for any or part of repairs that fall under the responsibility of the landlord, such as for plumbing, heating or electric services. They are also not permitted to deduct the cost of repairs that result from normal wear and tear from the security deposit.

Rental increase limits in Alberta

In Alberta, a landlord can legally increase the rent after a minimum of one year on a fixed-term or periodic tenancy agreement. Subsequent increases are also permissible each year following that. Unfortunately, in Alberta, there is no limit on the amount a landlord is legally allowed to increase the rent. 

Notice in writing of the increase is not required if the tenancy is fixed term. In the case of a periodic tenancy agreement, the landlord is required to notify the tenant in writing of the increase and include the amount of the increase, the effective date of the rent increase, and sign and date the notice. 

The following timelines apply for periodic agreements: 

  • 12 weeks for week-to-week agreement
  • 3 months for month-to-month agreement
  • 90 days for any other periodic tenancy agreement 

What are my rights as a tenant in Alberta?

Here are some common questions on your rights as a tenant in Alberta: 

Do I need to do an inspection report in Alberta? 

Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act requires a written move-in inspection and move-out inspection report as part of the tenancy.  Similar to a tenancy agreement, there is no standard inspection report in the province. However, a report can be purchased for a fee from the same organizations as a tenancy agreement. An inspection report is used to describe the condition of the rental property and help prove a tenant has not caused damage while living there. 

A move-in inspection report must be completed within one week before or after a tenant moves in, and a move-out report must occur one week before or after a tenant moves out. Ideally, the inspection should be completed when the rental property is empty. If a landlord fails to complete the inspection reports, they cannot deduct cleaning or repair costs from the initial security deposit. 

How much notice do tenants have to give in Alberta?

The amount of notice a tenant has to give in Alberta depends on the type of tenancy agreement they have. 

  • If a tenant has a fixed-term agreement, it ends on the day specified in the agreement, unless both the landlord and the tenant agree to end the tenancy early. A tenant does not need to give notice to end a fixed-term tenancy. However, as a courtesy, they should remind the landlord of their intention before the lease expires.
  • If a tenant has a week-to-week periodic agreement, a tenant must give one full week’s notice.
  • If a tenant has a month-to-month periodic agreement, a tenant must give one full month’s notice. 

The exception to the above is if the tenant or their child’s or dependents’ safety is at risk. Then a tenant can end a tenancy early without being penalized. 

Can a landlord say no to overnight guests?

Despite what a landlord might say or even try to include in a rental agreement, they legally cannot prevent you from having overnight guests stay at your rental property. You have the right to decide who you can invite to visit and stay at your place. A landlord is not permitted to create any sort of limitations on your right to do this, nor can they charge you an extra fee or threaten to raise your rent if you have guests stay. However, please note, as a tenant you are also responsible for any disturbances or damages your guests may do to the property. 

Can a tenant withhold rent in Alberta?

In short, no. A tenant cannot withhold rent in Alberta for reasons such as a landlord has not made repairs to the rental property. If they do, the tenant is at risk of a landlord issuing a 14-day Notice to Terminate on the grounds of failure to pay rent. Instead, the tenant should apply to the RTDRS to resolve the situation. 

Can a landlord refuse pets in Alberta?

Yes. In Alberta, a landlord has the right to refuse to rent to a tenant with pets. They can also place conditions on the type and breed of pets allowed in the rental property. 

Where to get help regarding your rights as a tenant in Alberta

If you have any questions or concerns about renting in Alberta, contact the RTA for legislation or help with issues at 780-427-4088 or toll free 1-877-427-4088. Alternatively, email rta@gov.ab.ca