Moving in

Residential tenancy agreements

Before a tenant moves in, the tenant and landlord need to agree to the terms of the tenancy in a contract called a residential tenancy agreement or lease.

For more information on types of agreements, see Starting a tenancy.

Move-in and move-out inspection reports

It is mandatory for landlords and tenants to complete both a move-in and a move-out inspection report. This report describes the condition of the rental premises when a tenant moves in and again when they move out.

Tenants can use the inspection report to prove they are not responsible for damage that occurred before they moved in.

Landlords cannot make any deduction for damages or cleaning costs from the security deposit when the tenant moves out if the inspection report requirements have not been met.

For more information, see Inspection Reports (PDF, 127 KB).

If you are experiencing any of the following issues:

  • the rental premises are not ready
  • unauthorized occupants

Learn how to deal with this issue

Amending a rental agreement

Residential tenancy agreements may be amended at any time during the tenancy, as long as:

  • both the landlord and tenant agree on the new terms, and
  • the agreement complies with the legislation

Common amendments include rent deferrals or reductions, or adding a new tenant to the agreement.

Amendments may be verbal, but it is always advisable to have a written copy of any changes to a tenancy agreement, as it is difficult to prove verbal agreements if a dispute ever needs to be resolved.

Entering the rental premises

A landlord may enter the residential rental premises at any time with the tenant’s consent. Consent can be verbal or written. If the landlord wishes to enter the premises without proper notice, the tenant can deny entry. If the landlord has the tenant’s consent, no notice is required.

  • Entry without permission but with proper notice

    The landlord may enter the residential rental premises without permission but only if the landlord has given the tenant a written notice at least 24 hours before the time of entry. The landlord can give notice to enter in order to:

    • do repairs
    • inspect the state of repair of the rent premises
    • take necessary steps to control pests
    • show the rental premises to prospective purchasers, or mortgagees, or
    • show the rental premises to prospective tenants after the landlord or tenant has given notice to end a periodic tenancy or in the final month of a fixed term tenancy
  • Entry without permission and without notice

    The landlord may enter the rental premises without permission and without giving notice to the tenant:

    • when the landlord has reason to believe there is an emergency, or
    • the landlord has reason to believe that the tenant has abandoned the rental premises

Introducing a sub-meter

A sub-meter is a system that allows a landlord to bill tenants for individual utility usage. A sub-meter can only be introduced for a month-to-month renter with their consent, as this would alter the tenancy agreement. For month-to-month tenants with utilities as part of their rent, the landlord and tenant can both agree to use a natural gas or electricity sub-meter. The tenant is then responsible to pay for the utilities separately from their rent.

For a fixed-term renter, a sub-meter can be introduced once the lease expires and a new lease is introduced. At that time a tenant has choices.

A tenant can:

  • agree to pay for utilities separately from their rent
  • negotiate different terms and conditions with their landlord
  • choose to rent elsewhere

If you are experiencing any of the following issues:

  • tenants have a dispute with their landlord about their sub-meter bill

Learn how to deal with this issue 

Rent increases

Landlords cannot increase the rent payable by a tenant under a fixed term or periodic tenancy agreement until a minimum of one year (365 days) has passed since the last rent increase or since the start of the tenancy, whichever is later.

Landlords cannot increase rent during a fixed term tenancy unless:

  • the tenancy is for less than one year, and
  • the tenant agreed to allow the landlord to do so

There is no limit on the amount by which the landlord may raise the rent.

If the landlord wants to increase the rent, the landlord’s notice to the tenant must be in writing and include all of the following:

  • the date
  • the effective date of the increase
  • the landlord's signature

This notice is required for a periodic tenancy only.

The amount of notice required depends on the type of tenancy:

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

Rent assistance

The Rent Supplement Program provides a subsidy to help make rental accommodation more affordable for individuals and families. For more information, see Rent assistance.

Locks and security devices

Generally, neither the landlord nor tenant can be locked out of the residential rental premises. If the landlord adds or changes locks, a new key must be given to the tenant right away. If a tenant wants to add or change locks to increase security, they may do so with the permission of the landlord. The tenant must give the landlord a new key as soon as the change is made.

Without the landlord’s permission, tenants may only add locks that can be used from the inside, such as chain locks. Tenants may not use these types of locks to deny entry to a landlord who has provided proper entry notice.

If adding a lock makes holes in the door or frame, the tenant must leave the lock in place when moving out or repair the damage if the lock is removed.

Repairs

A tenant cannot withhold rent because they believe the landlord is not meeting their obligations. A landlord cannot evict a tenant for exercising their rights under the RTA or the Public Health Act.

The landlord is responsible for keeping the rental premises reasonably safe and in good repair at all times, not just at the beginning of a tenancy. Standards for safety and comfort are set out in the Public Health Act, Housing Regulation, and Minimum Housing and Health Standards.

For more information, tenants can contact Alberta Environmental Public Health.

If a landlord ignores a tenant’s request for repairs, the tenant may apply to the RTDRS or court to:

  • recover damages
  • have the rent reduced to make up for any benefits the tenant has lost because the landlord didn't carry out the landlord's obligations
  • compensate for the cost of performing the landlord's obligations
  • end the tenancy

If you are experiencing any of the following issues:

  • landlord ignores a tenant’s request for repairs

Learn how to deal with this issue

Sublease or assignment

A tenant cannot sublease or assign the rental premises to someone else without the landlord’s written consent. A landlord may not refuse permission without reasonable grounds and must give the tenant their reasons in writing within 14 days after receiving the request.

If the landlord does not answer the request within 14 days, the tenant may assume that the landlord agrees to the sublease or assignment.

A landlord may not charge a fee for giving consent to sublease.

A tenant who subleases or assigns the rental premises may or may not be responsible for the balance of the residential tenancy agreement, and may choose to seek legal advice.

Cannabis use

While cannabis is legal in Canada, cannabis use may be restricted in condos (owned and rented), apartments and rental homes.

Any cannabis restrictions should be clearly set out in the rental agreement or the condominium bylaws.

A landlord or condominium corporation may prohibit in their buildings or on their properties:

  • smoking of all substances, including cannabis
  • non-smoking consumption of cannabis
  • growing cannabis plants

Occupants and condo owners should:

  • check the rental agreement or condo bylaws for cannabis restrictions
  • not smoke cannabis or other substances where it's prohibited
  • not grow or consume cannabis where it's prohibited

Having a medical cannabis prescription does not automatically exempt a tenant from bans on smoking or growing plants.

Contact

For more information on topics related to landlords and tenants, contact the Consumer Contact Centre.

For resolving a dispute, learn more about the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service.

See all contact options

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