Fairness for Commercial Renters.
Sign the Commercial Renter Bill of Rights.

Why do Businesses Need Protection?


According to the Better Way Alliance’s 2022 Commercial Rent Report, over 50% of businesses have closed or moved because of either a rent increase or a landlord dispute.

Commercial renters have little to no rights. Unlike many residential renters, for businesses renting commercial space:

  • Rent can be raised by landlords by any amount. We often hear of 50 to 100% increases, or even higher.
  • There is no dispute resolution process. If they need a contractually obligated repair done by an uncooperative landlord, the renter’s only option is to sue them.
  • There are no standard leases. Lease documents can be 100 pages long in complex legalese, often featuring harmful clauses.
  • They cannot stop paying rent when a landlord owes them money. A commercial renter can be evicted even if their landlord owes them money.

Canadian business owners are tired of seeing our neighbours close because of unscrupulous landlords and a lack of protection.  When your local coffee shop owner is navigating a 70 page lease written by a billion dollar land-holding company – they need some leverage too.

That’s why we’re launching the Commercial Renter Bill of Rights. Businesses need predictable rents & lease agreements to create good local jobs while growing our enterprises without major emotional & financial disruptions.

If governments want to encourage greater productivity, good local jobs, and brick & mortar business success, they need to support commercial rent reforms:

  • Standard Lease Agreements
  • Affordable Dispute Resolution
  • Predictable Rent Increases
  • Right to Withhold Rent

Send a message to your MPP/MLA & MP that you support a Commercial Renter Bill of Rights.

Commercial Renter’s Bill of Rights

Right to a Standard Lease Agreement

Simplify complex legal language to ensure transparency and accessibility in landlord-tenant agreements.

Right to Affordable Dispute Resolution

Access to out-of-court resolution reduces legal costs and resolves conflicts swiftly, keeping businesses focused on growth.

Right to Predictable Rent Increases

Cap rent increases to prevent unexpected costs and ensure business stability and continuity.

Right to Withhold Rent

Allow rent withholding, without eviction, as an offset when the landlord owes money – protecting tenants from unfair financial pressures.

Read the The Commercial Renters’ Bill of Rights

  1. The right to a standard lease agreement
    • Ensure lease agreements clearly address landlord and renter responsibilities and required timelines for action. A standard lease agreement creates fairness for all parties involved, including first-time renters and newcomers to the province – establishing viable businesses.
    • A right to have legal lease contracts upheld via enforcement of responsibilities and timelines, without the renter needing to take additional legal action;
  2. The right to an affordable non-judicial dispute resolution process
    • Create an alternative to provincial court systems in an effort to reduce red tape between renters & landlords while mitigating legal costs for both parties. An affordable alternative means resolving disputes is accessible to renter regardless of income level and keeps financial resources invested in the business.
  3. The right to limited, predictable and affordable rent price increases
    • Establish a cap on rent price increases from the end of one lease agreement or term to the next, similar to the cap for residential renters in various provinces. A cap on rent prices creates pricing stability and predictability for renters while enabling landlords to capitalize on a steady increase in their property value.
    • Require landlords to offer a lease contract when requested by the renter at the end of a lease term. This avoids month-to-month rent increases that are often used to drive existing renters out of their leased premises.
  4. The right to withhold rent payment when the landlord owes the renter money
    • Introduce a Balance Offset Clause, which would allow landlords and tenants to agree to reduce the balance owed by the landlord through “free” rent, ensuring agreements are clearly documented.
    • The ability to withhold rent if a landlord is in breach of contract.
    • Prohibit protection from eviction while there are outstanding landlord balances and/or dispute resolution is ongoing.

Business Rent Horror Stories

Footprints on Muskoka

Krista Mansour, owner of Footprints on Muskoka, found her business in jeopardy when her landlord offered only a Triple Net Lease for renewal.

This lease would force her to pay not only rent and utilities but also a share of the building’s common expenses – including property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and even the property manager’s health insurance.

The unpredictable nature of these costs posed too great a financial risk. Feeling pressured and unwilling to gamble her shop’s future, Krista closed during peak sales season. Her story highlights the potential dangers Triple Net Leases pose for small businesses and the lack of negotiating power during a lease renewal.

Till Death BBQ

Joy & Shannon Warner built Till Death BBQ from the ground up – literally catering their own wedding – and becoming an award-winning local favourite.

After a few years of pop-up success, they opened a restaurant in 2021 with a 5 year lease. However, 2 years in, their landlord triggered a clause allowing for a 100% rent increase.

Negotiations were tense and once neighbouring businesses found out, some even canceled services from the landlord’s other business. But the landlord still refused to budge. Till Death BBQ is now back to offering their award-winning BBQ at pop-up events and looking for another property with fair leasing terms.

People’s Pint Brewery

People’s Pint Brewery was a favourite spot for local homebrewers, professional brewers and blue-collar Torontonians to hang out and have a pint after work. Facing challenges like high costs and a leaking roof that the landlord refused to repair – the company was further rocked by a crippling 50% rent hike in 2023.

Moving the brewing equipment would have cost a staggering $150-200k – so instead they left their equipment behind and shut down operations.

Media & Podcast Interviews

The CommercialRent.ca and Commercial Renter Bill of Rights project was launched by the Better Way Alliance in 2022.  To speak with BWA representative Aaron Binder, or businesses impacted by commercial rent issues, contact Aaron: 416-677-5088 or aaron@betterwayalliance.ca.