Ontario Lease Wizard title icon

Ontario Lease Wizard

Redesigning Ontario's Standard Lease as a digital-first form

Status: Ongoing

Stakeholder Engagement, Design & Prototyping: December 2018 – July 2019
Web-based Prototype & Business Development: Ontario 2019 – Present

 

TL;DR

TL;DR

Ontario’s Standard Form Lease agreement was supposed to make life easier for landlords and tenants. But the paper-based, fillable PDF is hard to understand and use – as a result, it’s often never even read by the parties.

Our solution: a web application that helps people complete and sign the Standard Form Lease while educating users about their legal rights and connecting them with valuable community supports.

Using a participatory design process that engaged many experts and community stakeholders, we developed a high-fidelity prototype and conducted usability testing.

In 2020, we’ll continue to refine our prototype and business model.

Participatory Design Workshop - Feb 2019

Ontario Lease Wizard mock

Current activities

Current activities

As of January 2020, we are:

  • Exploring social enterprise business models with legal clinic partners and private sector funders to build and operate the web app
  • Working with computer science students and volunteer web developers to build a simple, open-source prototype
  • Conducting a second round of usability testing with both landlord and tenant-side stakeholders

If you’re interested in supporting or collaborating with us, please get in touch!

Team

Project Leads: Avery Au, Francesca Oprandi, Alexis Knygavko, Sheau Lih Vong
UX Concept: Alexis Knygavko, Leo Wang, Melanie Zhang, Eilish McVey
Graphic Design: Francesca Oprandi, Yuki Zhong
Web Development: Matilde Park, U of T Computer Science Students for Fall 2019 CSC 301 term project

Professional Backgrounds

UX design, service design, graphic design, web development, product management, law, public policy & political science

Project narrative

Project narrative

As of April 2018, the Ontario government has required landlords and tenants to use the Standard Form Lease (“SFL”) for new residential tenancy agreements.

The SFL was designed to make life easier by:

  • educating people about the law
  • simplifying the leasing process
  • making it harder for landlords to include unfair or illegal terms in leases.

While the SFL was a great step forward, the Ministry’s limited timeline and budget could only accomplish so much. The SFL is still a long, dense, paper-based document that’s hard to understand and use.

We set out to redesign the SFL as a digital-first, accessible web-based application that provides a streamlined, intuitive interface for landlords and tenants to complete and sign their lease agreement. This approach would enable us to effectively engage landlord concerns, educate tenants, and connects users to legal information, services and community supports.

By developing and validating a prototype, we aim to:

  • support innovation in the housing sector by re-imagining how leases are designed and used
  • model a collaborative process where legal experts work alongside professionals in design, marketing, and product management
  • lead by example to create a digital product that protects users rights and responsibly collects civic data for public good
Ontario Lease Wizard mock

Our participatory design process kicked-off in February 2019 with a large workshop for experts and community stakeholders held at the Law Society of Ontario. Our goal was to collect feedback and reactions to our project concept, better understand the factors behind product-market fit, and to obtain insights into specific sections of the lease document. The insights we collected through this enabled us to refine our product strategy.

Posting notes

Over spring and summer 2019, developed a high-fidelity prototype and conducted usability testing with landlord-side stakeholders. This work enabled us to further refine the scope of our product and our core value proposition.
In fall 2019, we collaborated with two teams of computer science students at the University of Toronto to build out core features of our prototype in React. We also conducted a more comprehensive review of related software tools.

As of January 2020, our ongoing project activities include:

  • Exploring social enterprise business models with legal clinic partners and private sector funders to build and operate the web application
  • Working with computer science students and volunteer web developers to build a simple, open-source prototype
  • Conducting a second round of usability testing with both landlord and tenant-side stakeholders