The realm of commercial leasing in Ontario is governed by a robust legal framework that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Entering into a commercial lease involves a legal contract, and seeking legal advice before signing is a prudent step. This guide offers valuable insights, especially for those unfamiliar with the nuances of commercial leases.


Understanding Lease Duration
Commercial leases commonly span a period of 3 to 10 years. It’s crucial to establish the lease commencement and termination dates.

Preparedness for Move-In
Explore lease provisions addressing scenarios where the rental space isn’t ready by the move-in date, including potential rent adjustments by the landlord.

Contingency Planning for Unexpected Delays
For non-vacant or non-remodeled spaces, be vigilant about unforeseen challenges. Familiarize yourself with lease clauses allowing the landlord to offer an alternative space in case of delays, potentially leading to multiple business relocations.

Strategic Timing for Business Relocation
When transitioning from an old location to new premises, allocate extra time for potential delays in construction, tenant transitions, or property damage at the new location.


Cost Metrics: Price per Square Foot

Commercial rents are commonly determined based on the cost per square foot of the leased space, providing a fundamental metric for calculating rental expenses.

Variable Expense Components

Landlords often charge tenants separately for heat and electricity, contributing to the overall cost structure of the lease.

Diverse Rent Calculation Methods

  1. Gross Leases
    • Standard for office spaces
    • Requires a fixed monthly payment
    • Landlord bears all operating expenses, including taxes and insurance.
  2. Net Leases
    • Involves payment for real estate taxes along with the base rent
    • Building operating costs are the landlord’s responsibility.
  3. Net-Net Leases
    • Tenant pays base rent, taxes, and insurance for the occupied space.
  4. Triple Net Leases (Net-Net-Net)
    • Passes all building operating costs, including repairs and maintenance, to the tenant.
    • Commonly used for industrial properties.
  5. Percentage Leases
    • Specialized arrangement for retailers in multi-tenant locations like malls.
    • Involves a fixed rate plus a percentage of gross income as rent.

Rent Dynamics and Escalation Clauses

Historically, rising operational costs were offset by increased rent during lease renewal. To safeguard against unforeseen real estate changes, landlords include escalation clauses. Negotiating the specifics of these clauses is common, covering areas such as:

  • Regular rent increases during the lease.
  • Apportioned increments in taxes, heating expenses, maintenance, and other direct expenditures.
  • Automatic adjustments tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or comparable inflation indices.


In cases of business expansion or relocation before lease expiration, sub-leasing is an option. However, ensuring the sub-tenant aligns with the landlord’s standards is vital. It’s crucial to note that the primary tenant remains responsible for rent should the sub-tenant terminate the lease prematurely.

Lease Renewal

Post-lease expiration, landlords aren’t legally obliged to offer the same space unless a renewal formula and clause guaranteeing the space are in place. Providing written notice to exercise the lease renewal option is standard practice, with automatic renewals until cancellation being a potential arrangement for companies with multiple locations seeking lease security.


Legal framework in Ontario

Ontario’s Commercial Tenancies Act (CTA) serves as the legal compass delineating the dynamics between commercial landlords and tenants in the province. This guide sheds light on key aspects, offering a nuanced understanding to stakeholders involved.

Government Neutrality

The provincial government refrains from intervening in commercial landlord-tenant disputes, emphasizing the need for informed legal counsel to navigate the complexities of the Commercial Tenancies Act (CTA).

Legal Recourse Channels

Legal disputes concerning money or personal property under $35,000 provide recourse through Small Claims Court, while larger claims find adjudication in the Superior Court of Justice. Practical insights into filing civil cases online and accessing Small Claims Court procedures ensure a smoother legal journey.

Clarifying Tenancy Nature

For situations posing ambiguity on residential or commercial categorization, landlords or tenants can seek a determination from the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). Understanding the applicability of the Residential Tenancies Act adds a layer of comprehension to tenant rights..

Tailoring Leases to Business Dynamics

Renting a space for business often involves crafting a commercial lease agreement, a pivotal written contract delineating the rights and responsibilities of both parties. Acknowledging the unique nature of each business, commercial leases should encompass key facets.

Key Components of Commercial Leases

  • Rent Structure: Including rules for rent increases and notice requirements.
  • Deposit Amount: Clearly outlining financial obligations.
  • Insurance Requirements: Defining coverage expectations.
  • Maintenance Obligations: Establishing responsibilities for repair and upkeep.
  • Renewal and Termination Rules: Outlining procedures for lease continuation or conclusion.
  • Tenancy Specifications: Defining the length and type of tenancy, whether month-to-month or fixed-term.
  • Negotiated Business Details: Incorporating specifics agreed upon during negotiations.

Tailoring Leases to Business Needs

Given the unique requirements of each business, careful consideration of space and service needs is paramount. Specifics, such as responsibilities for space improvements in cases like restaurant renovations, should be explicitly addressed in the lease.

Legal Guidance for Lease Negotiation
Legal guidance is crucial in commercial leasing in Ontario due to the complex regulatory environment and the need for specialized expertise. Here are key reasons:

  1. Regulatory Complexity: Commercial leasing involves intricate laws, and legal professionals provide insights into Ontario’s specific regulations.
  2. Lease Agreement Drafting: Lawyers ensure comprehensive and legally sound lease agreements, covering all necessary aspects and compliance with laws.
  3. Compliance Assurance: Legal guidance ensures compliance with statutory requirements, preventing disputes and penalties.
  4. Dispute Resolution: Lawyers navigate negotiations, mediation, or court proceedings, offering guidance in case of disputes.
  5. Understanding Lease Terms: Legal professionals interpret complex lease clauses, preventing misunderstandings and disputes.
  6. Legislative Updates: Lawyers stay updated on legal changes, ensuring lease agreements align with the latest requirements.
  7. Specialized Knowledge: Commercial leasing requires expertise in real estate, contract law, and business regulations, which legal professionals provide.
  8. Customization of Agreements: Lawyers tailor lease agreements to meet specific needs, preventing potential issues from generic or poorly drafted contracts.

Legal guidance is a proactive measure, saving both parties from costly disputes and ensuring a secure commercial leasing experience in Ontario.


In the intricate landscape of commercial leasing in Ontario, a robust legal framework governs the relationships between landlords and tenants. Essential to this process is seeking legal advice before entering into a commercial lease, providing crucial insights for those navigating the complexities of such agreements.

Understanding the duration of leases, exploring diverse rent calculation methods, and addressing post-expiration considerations are pivotal. Meanwhile, legal guidance plays a central role in crafting comprehensive lease agreements, resolving disputes, and ensuring a secure and compliant commercial leasing experience. By adhering to these insights and consulting legal professionals, both landlords and tenants can navigate the intricacies of commercial leasing in Ontario with confidence and mitigate potential risks.

Kozyrev Law is your trusted partner for comprehensive legal services in Ontario. Our firm is dedicated to providing expert guidance in commercial leasing, ensuring clients navigate complex regulations with confidence. From crafting tailored lease agreements to offering strategic insights on dispute resolution, Kozyrev Law is committed to delivering personalized, efficient, and reliable legal solutions for your commercial leasing needs.

Note: The information presented in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice. It is recommended to refer to official government publications and guidelines for accurate and up-to-date information. For obtaining legal advice tailored to the specific circumstances of your case, it is advised to consult with a qualified professional.

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