I have heard that there is a "Rent Bank" that helps people who cannot pay their rent. How can I find out more?
Rent Banks provide emergency loans to people to help them secure housing or avoid eviction. They may help with security and utility deposits or arrears. You must qualify for the funding and will be expected to pay it back. The Rent Bank may require you to take some training on managing your money and budgeting.
There is a Rent Bank in Calgary. You cannot apply directly to the Rent Bank but must be referred through an agency such as the Calgary Homeless Foundation or Mustard Seed.
In Edmonton, the Joint Planning Committee on Housing provides this service. It is accessible through a referral from a community agency.
My lease says that "if, for any reason, the Tenant shall terminate the Fixed-Term Lease, the remaining terms of the lease shall remain in full force and effect. The Tenant will be responsible to the end of the lease term or until the unit is re-rented." I lost my job and can no longer pay the rent. What can I do?
You should probably talk to your landlord and inform him of your situation. When you have a fixed-term lease, it means you agree to rent the property for the entire term of the lease. If you leave or stop paying rent before the term is up, the above term in your lease means that you have agreed to be responsible for the amount of rent payable until the fixed-term lease ends, or until the property is rented again.
You might be able to negotiate a different agreement with your landlord. If you cannot make a new agreement with your landlord and you do leave the premises and stop paying rent, your landlord can claim the rent for the rest of the lease from you. Your landlord does have an obligation to cut down his losses as far as possible, so he must try to re-rent the property.
I am moving to Alberta and am going to rent a place to live. I am a bit concerned about how much rent I will have to pay. Does Alberta have any rent control laws?
The law in Alberta does not control how much rent can be charged for any particular property. The law does control how often rent can be increased.
In a fixed-term tenancy, the rent can only be increased if the tenancy agreement allows for that to happen.
In a periodic tenancy, rent can be increased at certain time intervals depending on the time between rent payments. For example, in a monthly tenancy, rent cannot be increased unless six tenancy months have passed since the last increase. A tenancy month is the period between rent payments.
Before rent can be increased, a landlord must give the required amount of notice to a tenant. For example, in a monthly tenancy, at least three tenancy months' written notice must be given before the date when the increase will take effect.
As a tenant, you have a choice to accept a rent increase or not. If you decide not to pay the increased rent, you will have to give notice to leave the property. Of course there is the possibility of negotiating a different increase with the landlord.
If you decide that the increase in rent is too much, you must tell the landlord before the date when the increase is going to take effect. Any notice of termination of the tenancy must be given to the landlord before the date when the increase is going to take effect. The termination notice period that you must give would be in accordance with the kind of periodic tenancy you have. For example, a monthly periodic tenancy requires a notice period of one tenancy month. At the end of the notice period, you will have to leave the premises unless a new agreement has been reached with the landlord.
If you do not give a notice of termination of the tenancy before the date when the increase is going to take effect, the law implies that you have accepted the increase. For example, if you have a monthly tenancy and your landlord gives you notice on December 31st that your rent will increase as of April 1st, you must give notice that you are terminating the tenancy by March 1st.
If you remain in the premises without notifying your landlord that you do not accept the increase, you will be deemed to have accepted it. If you remain in the premises and the increase is not paid, a landlord would be within his rights to take legal action to recover the extra rent and to serve you with a notice of eviction for non-payment of rent.
I rent an apartment on a monthly basis. About four months ago, my landlord gave me a letter saying the rent was going to go up by $200 a month. I meant to tell him that I could not afford this, but I forgot. I did not pay the increase this month. Now I have received a "Notice of Termination for Substantial Breach" from my landlord. It says if I don't pay the increase in rent in 14 days, I have to leave. Is this right?
Yes. If you did not reply to the notice about the increase in rent and say that you would be leaving, the law implies that you accepted the increase as a new term in your tenancy agreement. By staying in the premises and saying nothing, your conduct implied that the increase in rent was agreeable to you.
Now that you have not paid the increase, your landlord is entitled to serve you with a 14-day notice to leave the premises for substantial breach. If you pay the amount of rent owing before the 14 days is over or serve a [Notice of Objection] on him, the notice from the landlord will have no effect. You may wish to talk this matter over with your landlord within the 14-day period.
My landlady has served me with a notice that my rent is going to increase. I really cannot afford the extra money. Is there anything I can do?
You might consider approaching your landlady to talk about the increase. If you are a good tenant otherwise, your landlady may consider it more important to keep you as a tenant than to gain the increase in rent.
If your landlady cannot be flexible on the rent increase, be sure that you inform her that you cannot continue the tenancy before the date for the increase arrives. If you have not notified your landlady by that time, you will be taken to have accepted the increase and will owe her that amount.
I signed a lease for a year, but after three months I am having trouble making the rent payments. What options do I have?
You have signed a fixed-term lease agreement, which means that you agreed to rent the property for one year. If you end the lease now, your landlord is able to take legal action against you for any loss of income that he has as a result of you leaving.
Potentially this could be for the nine months' remaining rent. A landlord has a duty to cut his losses as much as possible, however, so it would be up to him to try to rent the place again quickly. If the landlord sued you for nine months' rent, but it could be shown that he could have easily rented the place again within two months, he might only be able to claim two months' lost rent from you.
A suggestion is to talk to your landlord about your difficulties. It is possible a solution might be found. At the very least, you should try to give as much notice as you can of moving out. This will benefit both you and the landlord, as he will have more time to look for other tenants.
My apartment has flooded and the damage is going to take about two months to repair. Do I have to keep paying my landlord rent while the repairs are taking place?
Yes. If you stop paying rent you are at risk for being evicted for non-payment of rent. Even if you have to move out while the repairs are taking place, you should still pay rent. It is possible for you to come to an alternative agreement with your landlord with regard to the payment of rent during this time. Any agreement should be in writing and clearly state what your intentions are in altering the terms of the original lease agreement and be signed by both of you. In the absence of such an agreement, you should keep paying rent. You can also give notice to end your tenancy, if it is periodic, with the required amount of paid notice.
If you have tenant's insurance, your rent or extra living expenses may be covered by the insurance.
If the premises are completely destroyed by a disaster such as fire, it is likely that the lease agreement could be treated as frustrated (i.e., unable to be carried out) and the agreement will be over. However, if premises can be repaired so that the contract can continue, the contract will not be frustrated.
I have been having a disagreement with my landlord about the amount of rent that I owe him. Yesterday, after I went to work, my landlord came into my place and changed the locks. Can he do this?
No. If it was quite clear that you had not abandoned the premises, your landlord did not have the right to change the locks. He should have used other methods to deal with the issue of rent, for example, distress for rent or serving notice of termination for non-payment of rent.
I am very frustrated about outstanding repairs in my apartment. I have called and written my landlord, but he has ignored me. If I stop paying rent, could my landlord evict me?
Yes. You have an obligation to pay rent. The obligation to pay rent is separate from any obligation your landlord has to carry out repairs. If you stop paying rent, your landlord can serve you with a 14-day notice of eviction.
If you feel that the repairs are the responsibility of your landlord under the terms of your tenancy agreement, you can make an application to court to claim
- a rent reduction;
- compensation for doing the work yourself; or
- a court order to end the tenancy.
I use maintenance money to pay my rent. My ex-spouse is not always on time with payments. Will I be able to pay my rent late?
No, not unless you have an agreement with your landlord that late payment will be accepted. Normally, there is no grace period for late rent, and your tenancy agreement may even include penalties for late payments. You also run the risk of your landlord serving you with notice to end the tenancy within 14 days for non-payment of rent.
If the landlord issues a 14-day notice for non-payment of rent, the notice has no effect once the rent is paid. It may, therefore, appear that you could always pay your rent late and wait until the 14-day notice is issued before you pay. However, if you pay rent late on a continual basis, your landlord can call that a substantial breach of the tenancy agreement and serve you notice to terminate the tenancy.
If you have genuine difficulties, it might be worth talking to your landlord to see if late payments will be acceptable.
This page was last updated in November, 2004.