A lease being broken by tenants is always a risk, no matter the safeguards in a signed Ontario lease agreement. This can be caused by a multitude of factors. To diminish losses, a landlord must learn how to address this. It would also serve a tenant well to make sure they are fully aware of the consequences of breaking a lease.
This article by AMR Group will focus solely on the legal conditions set in Ontario.
Breaking an Ontario Lease
Can a tenant break a lease early in Ontario? Yes, but breaking a lease can set forth a trail of consequences that will be detrimental on the part of the tenant.
There’s the possibility of being charged with a lawsuit, having their security deposit kept by the landlord, and harming their credit. Further, it can be difficult for a renter to move into a new property after breaking a lease.
How to get out of a lease for Ontario Landlords
Even if there are solid reasons for an eviction, it is illegal for a landlord to:
- Interfere with vital services provided to the tenant such as electricity, hot or cold water, fuel, natural gas and heat.
- Stop a tenant from entering the rental unit by replacing the locks.
Landlords must know the proper eviction notices to send their tenants.
If a tenant has caused damage through negligence or caused disturbance to other tenants, then a 20-day notice is required. If it’s the second notice in a span of 6 months, then only a 14-day notice is needed.
Landlords must give 60 days’ notice to a tenant when they or a family member wish to move in. If a landlord decides to convert the rental property into another building then they must provide the tenant a notice of 120 days.
When Breaking a Lease Agreement is Legally Justified in Ontario
1. If there’s an agreement with the landlord.
A landlord can choose to include an early lease termination clause in their Ontario lease.
2. When the landlord gives permission to assign another tenant.
If a tenant wants to leave permanently before the end of their tenancy, they can request to transfer the lease to a new tenant. This means that all the rights and obligations will be transferred to the new tenant.
The new tenant will be bound to fulfill all the leasing conditions and to pay the rent amount. However, before this happens, the original tenant must first seek the approval of the landlord through written request.
If the terms are reasonable and the landlord agrees, the tenant will need to provide a 7 days’ notice to move out.
If the landlord refuses to give their consent or ignores the request, then the tenant can end the lease in 30 days from the date of their request to the landlord. A tenant can also opt to apply to the LTB for approval of the transfer.
3. In the case of domestic violence.
If a tenant is a victim of a partner and family violence, they can legally terminate their lease early. They can submit a 28-day notice to the landlord without penalty or paying anything more once they move out.
The notice must be attached with a Court Order. This could be in the form of a Restraining Order, Peace Bond or Statement of Abuse in writing that provides an explanation for the tenant or their child.
4. The Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) issued an order to terminate the agreement.
A landlord is legally bound to maintain the habitability of their rental unit. This means the building must be clean, free from pests and the plumbing and electrical systems are in good condition.
Landlords must make sure that the safety, health, and maintenance standards are duly met under the existing laws. Otherwise, the LTB can release a tenant from their obligations.
Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant in Ontario
In Ontario, a landlord is required to find a new tenant to mitigate losses following a lease break.
Searching for a new renter takes time, and while landlords can pursue legal action against a tenant who broke the lease, they usually choose to find a new tenant instead.
If you have specific questions, hire the services of a qualified Ontario attorney. Alternatively, you can seek help from a knowledgeable property management company.
Note that this blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in Ontario. Laws frequently change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading.
Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.