How Do I Get Out of My Lease?

Breaking your lease

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How to get out of a lease in Ontario

Are you trying to get out of a lease in Ontario? There are many reasons people want or need to move. And, if you need to move in the middle of your lease term, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Before you do anything, review the Residential Tenancies Act to understand your and your Landlord’s rights fully.

Much of this starts with common courtesy and common sense. Both parties have responsibilities, and it’s important not to damage the landlord-tenant relationship or put yourself at risk of legal action. It’s advantageous for both the tenant and the Landlord to work together. That means building a good relationship with your landlord from the start (hopefully, you’re not reading this article too late!)

In Ontario, if a tenant leaves before the lease is up, they’re legally responsible for the rent until the lease is over and the landlord’s cost of finding a new tenant.

Take the fairly common scenario of relocating for work. Even though your job is suddenly 100 kilometres from your home, you’re still on the hook for any expenses your landlord incurs while finding a new tenant and the monthly rent until the new tenant moves in.

Instead of the Landlord searching for a tenant, you can handle this for them and either assign the lease to them or have them sign a new lease altogether. This is a great option if you already know of a suitable person.

What is a Lease Assignment

Tenants have the right to assign or sublet a lease in Ontario. A Landlord cannot unreasonably deny this right, but the landlord has the right to approve or decline the person you’ve proposed to assign the lease to. If you know of somebody, this could avoid the landlord incurring expenses in locating a suitable replacement for you, saving you money, several thousand dollars, potentially.

What’s the Difference Between Subletting and Assigning a Lease?

You also have the option to sublet. This is when someone else becomes the sub-tenant, and they report to you for a period of time, and you continue to report to the Landlord and are responsible for fulfilling the terms of the lease; the sub-tenant reports to and pays you in this scenario. This scenario is more common if you want to sublet a room or part of the property to another person or if you are going away temporarily and plan to return.

If you want to break a lease, the best thing to do is have an honest, transparent conversation with your landlord and look for a way to resolve the situation amicably. It’s in the best interest of both parties to agree. Otherwise, you could waste time, money, and effort or even wind up in court.

In some scenarios, the Landlord may welcome the change. For example:

  • Rental rates have increased, and they can take on a new tenant at a higher monthly rent
  • Unannounced to you, the Landlord may be considering selling the property, and your vacating is a timely convenience

Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord looking for help, subscribe to KT Confidential | The Real Estate Podcast to watch or listen to new episodes each week for regular insight into Landlord and Tenant matters along with other industry-related topics, and contact our team if you need help with buying, selling, or leasing!


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