Renting commercial property in Ontario
Learn about commercial lease agreements, how to end a tenancy and where to get help to resolve a conflict.
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Your landlord can seize your goods or end your tenancy if you do not pay the rent on time. They can’t do both. For example, if you don’t pay your rent 16 days after the rent is due, your landlord can, without notice, end your tenancy by changing the locks on the rental unit and evicting you.
You can also be evicted for not following the rules in your lease.
Temporary eviction rules during COVID-19
We have extended the temporary ban on evictions of businesses eligible for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses program, regardless of whether or not the business previously participated in the program.
Landlords whose tenants were eligible for CECRA or would be eligible if applications were still being accepted, cannot change the locks or seize the tenant’s assets. These landlords can go to court to get an eviction order, but if it is for outstanding rent, the court cannot make it enforceable before the temporary ban on evictions is lifted.
The temporary ban on commercial evictions for CECRA-eligible tenants originally ran from May 1, 2020 to October 30, 2020 and has been extended until January 31, 2021.
If this temporary ban on evictions applies to you and your landlord evicted you or seized your goods during that period, they must return any unsold goods and let you back into the unit.
If they’ve already sold the goods, the proceeds must go towards your unpaid rent. If they’ve rented the unit to a new tenant, your landlord must pay you damages.
We have temporarily banned evictions for tenants who have been approved for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS).
A tenant who is approved to receive CERS, and has provided their landlord proof of approval, will be protected from eviction for a 12-week period from the date of approval.
If a tenant reapplies for a new CERS payment, the 12-week ban is effectively restarted from the date of the new CERS approval. Tenants must provide their landlord proof of each new approval.
The last possible date a CERS-approved tenant could be protected from evictions is April 22, 2022.
If this temporary ban on evictions applies to you, your landlord cannot evict you or seize your goods.
Commercial tenants who can pay their rent must continue to do so. Landlords should work with their tenants to come to an agreement.
Commercial lease agreements
If you rent a space for your business you may choose to enter into a commercial lease agreement with the landlord. A lease is a written contract that helps make sure both the landlord and tenant know what their rental rights and responsibilities are.
There is no standard commercial lease because businesses are different, but there are some things which most commercial leases should cover such as:
- the rent amount
- the deposit amount
- insurance requirements
- repair and maintenance obligations
- rules about how to renew or end the lease
- the length and type of tenancy (month-to-month or fixed-term)
- other business details that have been negotiated between the landlord and the tenant
Since every commercial lease is different, think carefully about the space and services needed to operate your business and make sure they are covered. For example, if you need to renovate a commercial space for a restaurant, make sure the lease outlines who will pay for the improvements.
It can also be helpful to speak with a lawyer about how to negotiate and draw up a lease that meets your needs.
Ending a tenancy
The Commercial Tenancies Act has rules about how a lease can be ended.
In a “month-to-month” tenancy, either you or the landlord must give written notice at least one-month in advance. The last day of the tenancy would be the last day of the month.
For example, if you plan to end your lease on November 30, you must give your landlord written notice no later than October 31.
No notice is needed to end a fixed-term lease. You must be out of the rental space on the date outlined in the lease. If you and your landlord would like to continue with the tenancy agreement, be sure to take steps to renew or amend the lease before it expires.
Terms of the lease
A lease can also have rules about ending a tenancy. These rules must be followed, even if they are different from the Commercial Tenancies Act. For example, as a tenant, you must pay the rent for the length of the lease agreement unless you negotiated rules that allow you to end your tenancy early.
The provincial government does not get involved in commercial landlord and tenant disputes.
Contact the Law Society Referral Service for up to 30 minutes of free consultation. The service does not give legal advice, but can connect you with a lawyer or paralegal.
Law Society Referral Service: