Canada, Ontario:

My landlord included this item in the additional terms for a lease they want me to sign:

  1. Tenants agree to pay all reasonable costs, Lawyer’s fees and expenses made or incurred by Landlord enforcing this agreement.

This is a major red flag for me since this would seem to imply that if my landlord wants to take me to court for anything (reasonable or not) I'd have to pay for their lawyer as well as my own lawyer. If they wanted to hire an expensive lawyer and drag it out they could easily bankrupt me.

Is this even legal? It feels like signing away your rights which I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to do.

  • 3
    The landlord isn't forcing you to agree to this. If it sounds unreasonable (and I think it is, unless they agree to a reciprocal clause where they agree to pay your legal expenses) then simply refuse to accept it. If they insist on it, go somewhere else. Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 15:18
  • 2
    You could also propose that an identical clause be added with "Landlord" and "Tenants" swapped. Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 15:33
  • 3
    @PaulJohnson: Under Ontario law there are some common clauses that are automatically void and unenforceable if they're in a private residential lease, such as requiring a damage deposit or including a "no pets" clause. There's a reasonable question as to whether this is such a clause. (I don't think it is, but it's a reasonable question.) Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 15:37
  • 1
    No one can force you to sign a contract, period. If you don't like the terms, don't sign. Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 15:44
  • @MichaelSeifert I don't think it is either, but it's a good point
    – user18924
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 0:13

1 Answer 1


Is this even legal?

Yes, it is lawful. The Ontario Tenancy Act does not seem to outlaw that type of clauses. But the clause (or lease) will be binding only if you agree to it.

Also note that the clause refers to reasonable costs, which implies that those costs must be for a reasonable cause. In other words, the landlord would be barred from recovery of legal expenses if you persuade the Board that the landlord's complaint is frivolous or vexatious.

Notwithstanding that the clause is lawful, I would personally discourage you from agreeing to pay the adversary's attorney fees. Note that the clause may apply in the event that neither party fully prevails, whence it is in your best interest to preclude the risk of having to reimburse the landlord in that scenario.

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