In Ontario, a tenancy can only be established once the landlord and tenant have signed a rental contract or agreement. To end it, your tenant must meet certain rules as outlined by the Residential Tenancies Act.
In this article, you’ll learn all about how to break a lease in Ontario.
What are the Two Types of Tenancies a Tenant Can Sign in Ontario?
When looking to rent a home, Ontario tenants have two options: depending on their needs, they can either go for a fixed-term tenancy or a non-fixed one.
In a fixed-term tenancy, you and your tenant must agree on the duration of the agreement. The agreement must state the start and end date of the lease term.
Once both you and your tenant sign it, you’re both agreeing to abide by the terms for a specific duration of time.
For example, if the tenancy lasts a year, the tenant agrees to pay rent on time for the entire 12 months. On your part, you also agree to rent your property to the tenant for the full year.
The other type of tenancy is a non-fixed-term tenancy. This means there’s no set date for when the tenancy ends. This type can be a daily, weekly, or monthly tenancy.
Since there’s no end date, the tenancy can end in any of three ways:
- Both of you agree to end it;
- Your tenant notifies you of their intention to end the lease, or;
- The LTB issues an eviction order.
Ontario Lease Ending Notices
A tenant has two options when looking to end their lease in Ontario. The first option is to notify the landlord of their intention to end their tenancy.
Here, your tenant must inform you of the last day they plan on living in the unit. If the tenancy is fixed-term, then your tenant must give you notice of at least 60 days before moving out.
If the tenant fails to do so, the tenancy continues.
The same notice requirements apply for a monthly, non-fixed term. However, if your tenant pays rent weekly or daily, then they must notify you 28 days prior to moving out.
The other option a tenant has when looking to end a lease is to enter an agreement with you. If both of you agree, the tenancy will end on the day mentioned in the agreement.
When Breaking a Lease Agreement is Legally Justified in Ontario
Generally speaking, an Ontario tenant cannot end a tenancy agreement before the period ends. That being said, life happens, and your tenant may have no other option than to move out.
The following are the legally justified reasons to move out before the end date.
1. Both parties agree.
As the two parties in the tenancy, both you and your tenant can agree to end the tenancy at any point. The agreement should state the specific date the tenancy must end.
Although an oral agreement can suffice, a written agreement is always the best option to avoid problems.
Once the agreement is made, the tenant must move out by the date both of you agreed upon. Your tenant can only stay if you agree. Otherwise, you can apply to the Landlord Tenant Board to evict the tenant.
2. The agreement isn’t valid.
You cannot require a tenant to agree to end their tenancy as a condition for renting your property.
This rule, however, doesn’t apply in certain circumstances, such as to students living in university or college residencies.
3. The tenant assigns the tenancy to someone else.
Your tenant can also end their tenancy if you let them assign or sublet their tenancy to another person.
An assignment and a sublet are two different things. When a tenant sublets their unit, it means that they are only moving out temporarily and they plan on moving back before the tenancy ends.
The person that moves in is known as the subtenant. The subtenant continues with the same lease terms as the original tenant.
An assignee, on the other hand, completely takes over the agreement once they move in. And, just like a sublet, they continue living on the unit under the same terms and conditions. Your tenant must seek your permission for an assignment.
If you don’t let your tenant assign the rental unit, or you fail to reply to your tenant’s request to assign, your tenant can end the tenancy by serving you Form N9.
Be that as it may, as a landlord, you reserve the right to accept or reject an assignee. But even so, note that you cannot refuse an assignee either arbitrarily or unreasonably.
You are allowed to charge your tenant any reasonable costs incurred in approving an assignee (for example, costs of screening the tenant.)
4. The landlord fails to meet their obligations under the RTA.
Your tenant may also be legally justified to end their lease if you fail in your responsibilities as a landlord. According to the Ontario landlord-tenant laws, a landlord in Ontario has failed in their responsibilities if they:
- Fail to keep the rental property to habitability standards.
- Enter the rental unit unlawfully.
- Harass their tenant.
- Interfere with their tenant’s reasonable enjoyment of their rented unit.
- Withhold or fail to provide a vital service promised in the agreement.
- Change locks without providing their tenant with replacement keys.
- Unreasonably deny a tenant from subletting or assigning the rental unit.
5. Your tenant is a domestic violence victim.
Your tenant may also be able to end their lease early if they are a domestic violence victim. The tenant must provide you notice of at least 28 days before moving out.
Besides the notice, your tenant must also provide you a copy of a restraining order or a peace bond.
Disclaimer: This information is only intended to be informational. If you have specific questions or need expert help, kindly consider hiring a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company in Ontario.