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Landlord & Tenant Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a security deposit?
  2. Must a landlord provide a receipt for a security deposit?
  3. Does a landlord have to pay interest on a security deposit?
  4. How much can be charged for a security deposit?
  5. How much time does a landlord have to return a security deposit after the tenant moves out?
  6. What is a rental agreement?
  7. What are the types of rental agreements?
  8. Must a landlord give a copy of a signed rental agreement to the tenant?
  9. Must a landlord give a tenant a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act?
  10. What is a Rental Premises Condition Report form?
  11. Does the Residential Tenancies Act apply to a verbal rental agreement?
  12. Can a landlord request post dated cheques for rent payments?
  13. Are there residential premises not covered by the Act?
  14. Does the Act apply to business/commercial rental agreements?
  15. Is a tenant responsible to have insurance on his/her personal belongings?
  16. When a rented premises is sold to a new owner, does the rental agreement continue?
  17. What happens to a security deposit when there is a change in ownership?
  18. Can a landlord charge a fee for late payment of rent?
  19. Can a landlord charge a fee if a tenant's rent cheque is returned because of non sufficient funds (N.S.F.) in the tenant's account?
  20. Can a tenant withhold rent because a landlord is not maintaining the premises?
  21. Can a landlord terminate a rental agreement when the tenant does not pay rent?
  22. Can a landlord increase rent by giving a verbal notice to the tenant?
  23. Can a landlord increase rent anytime?
  24. Is a tenant responsible for damages to the residential premises?
  25. What can a landlord do if a tenant has not repaired damages?
  26. Can a termination notice be verbal?
  27. Where can I get a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act?
  28. If a landlord gives a tenant a Termination Notice in writing, is the tenant required to give a written notice of his departure?

1. What is a security deposit?

A security deposit is a sum of money or other value given to the landlord, that is in addition to the rent paid in respect of the residential premises, and is held as security for the performance of an obligation or a liability of the tenant

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2. Must a landlord provide a receipt for a security deposit?

A landlord shall give the tenant a written receipt stating the amount of the deposit, the date of payment, and the premises to which it applies. The security deposit is not an asset of the landlord, but must be held in trust by the landlord.

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3. Does a landlord have to pay interest on a security deposit?

When a security deposit is refunded to a tenant, a landlord shall also pay interest on the security deposit for the entire period the landlord has had the security deposit. The Rate of Interest PDF (84 KB) is set by the Security Deposit Interest Regulations. You may use the Security Deposit Interest Rate Calculator to assist in determining interest on your security deposit.

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4. How much can be charged for a security deposit?

The amount of the security deposit that a landlord can ask a tenant to pay depends on the type of rental agreement:

  • if the premises are rented from week to week, the deposit cannot be greater than the first two weeks rent;
  • for a monthly rental agreement, it must not exceed three-quarters of the first months rent;
  • where the premises are rented for a fixed term of 6 to 12 months, the deposit cannot exceed three-quarters of the first months rent if the rent was proportioned to a monthly payment.

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5. How much time does a landlord have to return a security deposit after the tenant moves out?

The landlord shall return the security deposit to the tenant within 15 days after the tenant vacates, unless the landlord has a claim for all or a portion of the security deposit. A landlord can keep a security deposit with the tenant's Written Permission. When a landlord and tenant disagree on the status of the security deposit, then either party should contact our office to Start a Claim (need pdf) to determine the disposition of the money. We also recommend you review our information sheet on Completing a Claim Form PDF (92 KB).

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6. What is a rental agreement?

The Residential Tenancies Act refers to a landlord and tenant relationship as a rental agreement. The agreement can be oral or written and is a legal binding contract between the parties. It may be simple and brief, or it may contain extra conditions or obligations. Any and all changes or additions to a verbal or written rental agreement should always be noted in writing. It is important to note that any conditions or obligations in a rental agreement are not valid if they contravene the Act.

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7. What are the types of rental agreements?

There are three types of rental agreements:

  • week-to-week;
  • month-to-month;
  • a fixed term of not less than 6 months and not more than 12 months.

The type of rental agreement will determine when the rent is due and the minimum notice of termination to be given by the landlord or tenant.

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8. Must a landlord give a copy of a signed rental agreement to the tenant?

Yes, the landlord shall give the tenant a duplicate copy of the Rental Agreement PDF (42 KB) within 10 days after the date of signing by all parties. If the landlord fails to do this, the tenant is not obligated to pay rent until the tenant receives a copy of the rental agreement. However, any rent already paid may be kept by the landlord.

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9. Must a landlord give a tenant a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act?

Yes, Under Section 5 and 6 of the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord has to provide a copy of the Act, without cost, to the tenant, upon entering into a rental agreement.

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10. What is a Rental Premises Condition Report form?

The Rental Premises Condition Report PDF (55 KB) is completed, signed and dated by the tenant and landlord to show the condition of the residential premises at the beginning and end of the rental agreement. Both landlords and tenants find that an inspection report is in their best interests. A tenant can use it to show there were damages before the tenant moved in. A landlord can use it to show damages which were not there before the tenant moved in. The premises should be vacant during an incoming and outgoing inspection, unless the landlord and tenant agree otherwise. The landlord and tenant should inspect the premises together and write down any damages such as holes, scratches and burns. The landlord and tenant should sign and keep a copy of the report. If a landlord or tenant does not want to participate in an inspection report, the landlord or tenant should complete the inspection report, preferably with a witness, and provide a copy to the other party. Many landlords and tenants take pictures of the conditions in the unit or videotape them at the start and at the end of the tenancy.

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11. Does the Residential Tenancies Act apply to a verbal rental agreement?

Yes, the Act applies to a verbal rental agreement.

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12. Can a landlord request post dated cheques for rent payments?

Yes, the landlord can request post dated cheques.

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13. Are there residential premises not covered by the Act?

There are certain premises which do not come under the Act, such as accommodations:

  • where meals and bed linens are provided;
  • where the owner shares bathroom and kitchen facilities with an occupant, as in a boarding home;
  • provided by an educational institution to its students (including units owned by Memorial University of Newfoundland);
  • provided by religious, charitable or non-profit organizations;
  • in a hospital or nursing home;
  • occupied on a transient basis provided in a hotel, motel, inn, tourist home or hostel.

(Refer to Section 3 of the Act for more information concerning what accommodations are excluded.)

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14. Does the Act apply to business/commercial rental agreements?

No, the Act does not apply to this type of landlord-tenant relationship.

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15. Is a tenant responsible to have insurance on his/her personal belongings?

Yes, a tenant is responsible to carry insurance on his/her personal belongings. A tenant's personal belongings are not covered by insurance the landlord may have on the residential premises.

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16. When a rented premises is sold to a new owner, does the rental agreement continue?

Yes, the Rental Agreement PDF (42 KB) (written or verbal) continues as if there was no change in ownership, however a foreclosure may result in an exception.

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17. What happens to a security deposit when there is a change in ownership?

The new owner will be responsible for the security deposit.

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18. Can a landlord charge a fee for late payment of rent?

Yes, the landlord can charge $5.00 for the first day the rent is late and $2.00 for each additional day the rent is not paid up to a maximum of $75.00.

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19. Can a landlord charge a fee if a tenant's rent cheque is returned because of non sufficient funds (N.S.F.) in the tenant's account?

If a rent cheque is returned N.S.F., a landlord may charge a fee not greater than $25.00.

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20. Can a tenant withhold rent because a landlord is not maintaining the premises?

No, not paying the rent may result in the landlord serving a short Termination Notice PDF(8 KB). The tenant has other options to have a landlord carry out required maintenance work. The tenant should contact the landlord in writing outlining the maintenance work required. If the landlord does not then carry out requested maintenance work, or if any work carried out is not satisfactory the tenant may contact the Division for assistance.

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21. Can a landlord terminate a rental agreement when the tenant does not pay rent?

Yes, a landlord can give a short Termination NoticePDF (8 KB) when the rent is not paid. Please refer to our Information on Termination Notices (need pdf) for more details.

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22. Can a landlord increase rent by giving a verbal notice to the tenant?

No, a landlord must give the tenant a written notice to increase the rent.

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23. Can a landlord increase rent anytime?

A landlord cannot increase the rent during any fixed term rental agreement or during the first 12 months of a week to week or month to month rental agreement.

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24. Is a tenant responsible for damages to the residential premises?

A tenant is responsible to repair damages where the tenant or one of the tenant's guests or visitors caused the damages.

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25. What can a landlord do if a tenant has not repaired damages?

A landlord can request in writing a tenant to repair damages. If the tenant fails to do the repairs within 3 days, or a reasonable time, if appropriate, then a landlord can give a tenant a written Termination NoticePDF (8 KB) of not less than 5 days.

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26. Can a termination notice be verbal?

No, a termination notice must be in writing.

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27. Where can I get a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act?

Official copies of the Act can be purchased for $5.25 (including tax) at our Locations and at the Government Service Centres. Credit card, debit card, cash, cheque and money order payments are accepted. Cheques and money orders must be made payable to "Newfoundland Exchequer". You can order copies by phone using your credit card by calling 1 877 829-2608.

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28. If a landlord gives a tenant a Termination Notice in writing, is the tenant required to give a written notice of his departure?

Yes, All notices of termination by a landlord will also require a written notice from a tenant when he is leaving, otherwise rent is payable to effective date of termination.

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