Did you know that as a tenant, you are not able to simply walk away from your lease? There are protections in place for both the tenant and the landlord under the Residential Tenancies Act, which means you may end up owing substantial amounts of money to your landlord if you illegally terminate your tenancy.
When you first move into a rental property, you likely entered into a tenancy agreement. This is your agreement to pay rent for the right to live in the rental unit. These agreements are often made in writing and may be referred to as a lease, or they may be made orally. This agreement, especially when made in the form of a lease, will often be made for a fixed term. This means that both the start date and the end date are set out in the agreement. After the fixed term has expired, the tenancy continues either on a month-to-month basis, or a week-to-week basis, depending on the frequency in which you paid your rent.
After the lease has expired, tenants still have obligations to their landlord if they want to move out. For example, they must have the landlord enter into an agreement to end the tenancy on a specified date. The best way to document this is to use the N11 form available on the Landlord and Tenant Board’s website. If the landlord doesn’t agree to this, then the tenant must give them at least 60 days’ notice if they pay rent on a monthly basis. The termination date can be no earlier than the last day of an existing lease, or it must be for the end of a monthly rental period. The best way to give notice is in writing, and again, the tenant can opt to use the prescribed form available on the LTB’s website – Form N9.
If you move without giving proper notice, the tenancy ends on the earlier of the date the unit is rented to another tenant, or the earliest termination date that could have been put in a notice to end a tenancy if proper notice had been given. You will be responsible for rent up to this date.
If your landlord does not agree to terminate your tenancy earlier, moving before the end of the tenancy without consequences may be difficult. For tenants who are still within their lease, or cannot wait the 60 days to move, there are two options available to you.
First, you can assign your tenancy. In this scenario, you transfer your tenancy to another person. This requires the landlord’s approval for an assignment. As always, get this agreement in writing. Take note that a landlord has a right to refuse an assignment to a new tenant, but they must have a good reason for doing so.
The other option is to sublet your unit. This means that you move out of the unit for a specific period of time and allow someone else to move in until you return for the end of your tenancy. The person who moves in is known as a subtenant. They would be responsible to you for rent, and you then pay that rent to the landlord. A landlord cannot refuse the idea of subletting the unit, but they can refuse to allow a tenant to sublet to a specific person if they have a good reason. Note that it is always best to get your landlord’s approval to sublet your unit, as they can evict both you and any unauthorized occupants. If the landlord wants to evict you and the unauthorized subletee, the landlord would need to file their application within 60 days of discovering the unauthorized occupant.
Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, Lerners LLP can assist you through this process and ensure your rights are protected. We can help ensure that you do not become liable to the other party on account of breaking one of your responsibilities. We are well-versed in landlord and tenant law, and we are happy to help.
Matthew Wilson is a real estate lawyer in the London Ontario law firm, Lerners LLP. See his professional biography for more information about his work in the area of residential real estate and land development, or contact him at 519.640.6357 or .