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Can tenants break their lease too easily?

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Canadian Realestate Magazine | 16 Dec 2014, 09:30 AM Agree 0
Most landlords get their tenants to sign a minimum one-year lease. But what most landlords don’t realize is that these agreements don’t hold much weight. In Ontario, tenants can break their leases with relative ease.
  • Mortgage Delivery Guy | 17 Dec 2014, 12:35 AM Agree 0
    In my opinion, the critical part is to perform due diligence on any potential tenants before making them sign your lease agreement. You can not rely on LTB. That's the truth.
  • Hans | 01 Jan 2015, 02:32 PM Agree 0
    As a landlord my biggest mistake has been in giving the struggling families a chance to improve their lives with a fresh start. Only to find out later that they (Most) only care about themselves and treat my property with disrespect . As a consequence I have become a little more hardened. Helping new tenants now means providing good housing for good people that meet all the proper criteria and no more mister nice guy from me!
    • | 14 Nov 2017, 09:58 AM Agree 0
      I am a newly single mother. I lost my house my job my credit and almost my children during my split up. I found a landlord who gave me a chance. Just because I was struggling because of him I got that second chance in life to be stable again. If he went on my credit and such I would have been denied and sent to a shelter. He gave me that chance and now a year later I'm pretty much back on track. I keep home in spectacular condition go above and beyond to keep clean and it's a home for me and my children...what I'm saying is give people a chance..just use your gut to weed out the bad ones....not everyone because some do deserve
    • Lester Singh_Remax | 19 Nov 2017, 04:57 PM Agree 0
      Habits die very hard,while all humans are good people.habits are in control(Eg smoking) so if you are aware about "fire"run run.
  • dcw | 17 Jan 2015, 12:02 PM Agree 0
    I totally agree with the first comment. Do your homework and get a good tenant. The lions share of 'rights' obviously lies with them. That is why precious little rental stock has been built in the last 40 years which in the end doesnt benefit tenants
  • John | 22 Jan 2015, 07:06 PM Agree 0
    The LTB is a joke. This socialist way of limiting landlords makes no sense in our market.
  • Troy Thompson | 01 Feb 2015, 10:10 AM Agree 0
    Due diligence is obviously critical in selecting tenants and anyone that does not have a thorough screening system is bound to have headaches eventually. Having been a reader/investor for years one thing that I think that gets neglected is the skill of assessing applicants beyond the paperwork. My fulltime job is in clinical healthcare and we are constantly conducting assessments on clients. I think that skill has served me well within our real estate portfolio as we are able to notice small interpersonal issues that may arise. For example, we once had an applicant arrive for a showing - she and her partner had well-paying jobs, solid credit, etc but my "interpersonal alarm bell" or "red flag gut instinct" was going off. When they were perusing the home I looked outside and saw that they had left two very young children in their van with the door open. I am certainly not judging that choice but it did leave me thinking "how responsible is this couple?", and we opted to select another candidate. So all that being said, homework and due diligence remain essential, but you also need to develop and trust a "spidey sense" when evaluating tenant candidates.
  • Jon | 20 Feb 2015, 09:27 AM Agree 0
    In addition to a landlord's refusal to allow the tenant to assign tenancy, the Ontario Landlord Tenant Board also may allow a tenant to break their lease for the following reasons.

    If the Landlord:

    • unreasonably withholds consent to assign or sublet the rental unit,

    • is not maintaining the rental property,

    • unlawfully enters the rental unit,

    • alters the locking system without giving the tenant replacement keys,

    • withholds or deliberately interferes with a vital service,

    • interferes with the tenant’s reasonable enjoyment of the rental property, or

    • harasses the tenant.

    If the tenant applies, they would have to prove to the Board that ending the tenancy is a reasonable remedy.

    Sadly many feel the Landlord Tenant Board is very biased against landlords and even if the reasons to terminate tenancy are not valid, the adjudicators will likely side with the tenants. Many Ontario landlords now simply rent month to month as a one year lease offers little protection to them. In fact a paralegal has stated one year leases can make an eviction even more difficult for landlords to obtain.

  • kevin | 10 Jan 2016, 08:46 PM Agree 0
    I'm looking to brake my lease and l know how to do this ,I would love to stay but when the landlord is just a cheap ass and tells me to update his own house cuz I'm living here not ,if I break something or want something above the normal I would be glad to pay for it
    landlord 95 %of them are cheap slum lords and if they walk out on your lease then think what you (landlords) done wrong
    • Jon | 31 Oct 2017, 08:09 AM Agree 0
      Have your stuff ready to all move out then break it. Fat chance a slum lord would go to court. The cost of it would be way more then the winnings could ever be.
  • sergerybrin | 11 Jan 2016, 01:14 AM Agree 0
    Most of the tenants sign the lease agreement but don't apply laws for this.According to laws,a tenant cannot break lease easily.Landlord must have to aware form those type of tenants and try to get good tenant for your apartment.
  • lilly | 12 Jan 2016, 07:58 PM Agree 0
    I am having the problem where, my boyfriend works nights and most times i am alone at night with our 16 month old daughter. There has been so many times where I have done things that the super attendants should be doing, but they refuse to. I have swept and cleaned hallways, i have shovelled snow around the garbage bin where it was not in my lease that i had too, and they just expect it of me. My daughters light in her room went out and it wasn't a bulb, it took him a month before he finally got his ass over to fix it, took them almost two months to fix our bathroom door that was broken before we moved in and he said he'd have it done before we were living there and it didn't happen. All while every time we see them we remind them and they go "oh ya next weekend" and then nothing. Last night a guy came into our apartment (there are six units) he was drunk, screaming and yelling, banging on the walls and on doors and they didn't do anything. didn't come out, didn't call the police. I called the police because it was 12 at night and i could not sleep and did not feel save with this man out in the hall. Then he goes into his unit puts bacon on the stove and passes out. The fire alarm in his unit was going off and no one in the fregin place woke up, or went to see what happened. I once again finally called the cops and once the fire fighters got here they had to break down his door and there was smoke EVERYWHERE, the apartment could of burnt down. It pisses me off they do nothing, the whole time this happened they were either sleeping or just in there apartment. Considering i heard all of this on the other side of the building you cannot tell me they didn't hear it while it was happening in their hallway and outside their door. The fact that something could of happened to my daughter or my pets and they didn't do anything...if i hadn't of called the whole side of our building could be gone right now and that guy would of died from the smoke. Living here stresses me out beyond the max, we have five months left but i cannot wait that long and not after the scare of last night, i don't even feel safe here anymore unless i'm on guard 24/7 cause no one else here does anything. I don't know if this is just enough cause to end my lease or not, but if not I'm almost willing to just take the heat and leave.
    • EFH | 24 Jan 2016, 08:47 PM Agree 0
      As the article says, you can assign your lease to someone else to take over for the lease. If the landlord accepts, you can get out of they lease. If they refuse your assignee, your lease is then released from you. If they dont answer within 7 days of your notice for subletting, you can break the lease. Please, as a tenant you MUST read the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17 T
      There is no excuse these days to be unaware of your rights. Take ownership of your circumstances and be empowered.
  • LifeIsntConstant | 26 Jan 2016, 10:48 AM Agree 0
    The problem with year long leases is that even responsible people's lives change. My job moved me from out west to east. I had to break my lease, I felt terrible but the commute from Calgary to Peterborough just isn't feasible. Now I feel guilt again because I happened to find a house that is perfect but my lease isn't up for 6 months. I feel like trapping people into an apartment is rather archaic. I get it that piece of mind is nice to have and re-posting is difficult but the reality is people's lives change. People get married, divorced, have kids, new jobs or transfers and dealing with these things is hard enough without worrying about paying X months of rent on top of it.
    • Michael | 01 Mar 2016, 10:23 PM Agree 0
      How would you feel if you moved out West for your new job, and after 3 months into your two year contract, you got let go, because even in business things change. Is this fair to you? You have bills to pay! do landlords. What is the point of having a lease if it is meaningless.

      Should a landlord be able to kick you out because his brother lost his job and needs a place to stay? No, because he signed a lease with you. THAT'S WHAT LEASES ARE FOR!!!!!!!
  • sara | 05 Feb 2016, 10:23 AM Agree 0

    I moved in to my place where I rent and I signed a one year lease on October 30 2015 there have been a lot of problems in this place and my husband and I wrote down everything that needed to be fixed down the first day we moved in, it is now February 5th 2016 and not one thing has been fixed or even talked about since we handed the request to have this stuff fixed, what can I do to get this fixed? or am I able to break my lease?

  • Jordan | 28 Feb 2016, 03:18 PM Agree 0
    We asked out landlord if we could break our 10 month lease on our basement suite and he acknowledged that he has a new lease with a new tenant who has also paid a damage deposit, does this mean we still have to assign our remaining 10 month lease to his new tenant? Does this mean we are still liable for our remaining 10 month lease even if the new tenant moves out within the next 10 months? Does the Landlord have the right to hold out damage deposit until our original lease is up in 10 months?
    Help we are newbies and struggling students but want to do the right thing.

    Thank you
  • | 21 Jul 2016, 04:20 PM Agree 0
    If you thought you might suddenly need your property, you shouldn't have allowed someone else to live there. And no, you can't say the same thing for tenants because people having a place to live is far more important than renting being your source of income and typically tenants have no other option. Being a landlord is your only source of income? Then be aware of and prepared to deal with the laws associated with that.
  • Kathleen | 04 Sep 2016, 08:51 PM Agree 0
    I welcome anyone's professional advice.
    I co-signed a lease with my sister and we just moved in Aug 27th. She did a runner in Tuesday Aug 30th and said good luck paying all the bills. I informed the property manager even prior to her leaving that she was planning this.
    They keep telling me, I will be ok.
    This whole situation is just ruined and I want out. I am advertising the apt with the incentive of 6 weeks free rent; not many takers.
    I want to be as honest as I can, I can't afford the unit on my own.
    I am prepared to take my lumps, but I refuse to be responsible for my sister's share.
    How bad is my situation?
  • Scott | 05 Sep 2016, 10:14 AM Agree 0
    @ Kathleen, it doesn't appear very good.

    I am not a lawyer and these are my personal opinions and thoughts. Bear in mind, I only have your side of the story.

    I have a couple of suggestions. Visit the local university if it has a

    legal faculty and see if they have a free clinic. Explain the situation and ask what you can/should do.
    Some provinces also have a residential tenancies branch (nuts, this isn't the right agency...) That you can discuss the situation with. The RTB is more for tenants and landlords but they should be able to refer you to a resource that can help you.

    Is this month, September, paid for? If so, you have the month to figure this out. If the rent is 100% due this week and you only have your 50% share available, pay your share *in full and on time* and give the landlord your sister's contact information. She signed the contract, it's *HER* responsibility to come up with her share. That said, I have a sinking feeling that if she can't be found or refuses to pay, you may have to pay 100% of the rent, at least til you find a roommate or get a different opinion from a lawyer.
  • RW | 04 Nov 2016, 09:00 AM Agree 0
    My ex and I decided to part ways about 1.5 months into our 1 year lease. We are trying to find subletters or "assignees" but it seems to be a pain. I thought companies understood generally when this type of thing happens
    • Jill | 26 Sep 2017, 05:44 PM Agree 0
      Just want to say that finding a subletter or an assignee IS a pain - but it is also your responsibility when you want to walk away from a legally binding agreement. :)
  • | 22 Mar 2017, 04:43 PM Agree 0
    I am an ideal tenant. Single, middle-aged, female college professor, with phenomenal references checked thoroughly by the landlords/owners of the flat I currently rent in their turn-of the century home in Hamilton.

    Sadly, because I was in a rush to rent last fall, I did not check the landlord references. For this, I am now paying. The house has no insulation between my second floor and the tenant who caused me grief by creating a great deal of noise, although mostly before 11pm. I have suffered undue stress exacerbating a preexisting medical condition and have secured documentation from a therapist and an MD, should I require it for moving out early.

    The landlords have not "intervened" in stopping the noise upstairs in fear of the tenant, who had threatened to do damage to their property, nor have they called the police to report the threat, preferring to "throw me to the wolves" as they perceived a vulnerable, albeit responsible tenant. The noisy tenant has moved recently, but I have been told that there are no guarantees that the new tenant will respect the need for quiet in a non-insulated floor/ceiling shared by our flats.

    I am currently experiencing some medical issues and simply do not have the psychological nor physical strength to look for a place and move, yet the landlords are not in agreement to allow me to break the lease under the circumstances.

    Friends have suggested getting legal assistance, but few lawyers will deal with what fall under the jurisdiction of the Landlord and Tenant Tribunal - ie. it simply won't pay them enough to get involved.

    I feel that I am between a rock and a hard place. Can anyone offer any constructive advice which does not include the L & T Board, with which I am familiar.
    • Jill | 26 Sep 2017, 05:42 PM Agree 0
      Hi there,

      It's been some time since you posted so I hope your situation is resolved! If not:

      Unfortunately your landlord is not required to ensure that your neighbours do not interfere with your enjoyment of the property. However threatening your landlord, as your neighbour did, is certainly cause for eviction and it seems odd that your landlord would rather deal with the threatening tenant than with you.

      If you want to get out of your lease at this point I would suggest asking your landlord to assign the lease. They have 7 days to respond. If they unreasonably withhold consent or fail to respond, you can give as little as 30 days notice and walk away. If they agree, then work with your landlord to find a replacement who can take over your lease.

      It might not be possible to avoid having to go through the LTB if your landlord is not agreeable. If that's the case, talk to your local free Legal Centre - every major city or hub should have one. They help clients with this kind of thing all the time.

      Best of luck!
  • Kaybee | 21 May 2017, 01:04 PM Agree 0
    My girlfriend and I recently rented a basement apartment. The price was right. We're both coming out of toxic divorces. We needed a place to lay low for a year and 1000 a month seemed fair including everything.

    Were in our 3rd month and the intrusions from the landlord upstairs are just getting to be too much. There really isn't even a lock on the door between us. They seemingly come down as they please and use our door to enter/exit as they see fit. So basically I'm paying 1k for the use of 2 bedrooms and a bathroom with just a shower/sink/crapper. The rest I deem to be common area as it's invaded on a regular basis.

    I'm going to formally serve them with paperwork to Assign the rental unit to someone else and hope they don't do anything within the 8 day period so I can have the lease burned. If not it's loud banging all night and boxing workouts at 4:00am till they get the hint.

    So stupid how people can illegally rent out their basement , meet none of the codes and expect you to put up with the bullshit of daily intrusions. I have enough shit going on in my life right now and it's 10x harder without a place to call my own.

    Renting sucks. Landlords are just douches that lucked into a house.
  • Kristi | 31 May 2017, 03:52 PM Agree 0
    I have only lived in my apartment for 2 months but have signed a 1 yr lease. My landlord has known about a faulty toilet since the day I moved in and has even tried to fix it himself of course with no luck. I have to keep turning the valve on and off in order to flush. I also have neighbors that continuously have domestic disputes so bad that the police have been called 3 times in the last month. I feel this to be unsafe for myself and my 15yr old daughter when she comes for a visit.
    Are these grounds in which I can break my lease?
  • Buck | 17 Jun 2017, 11:21 AM Agree 0
    My question is the scenario of a duplex (detached house top and bottom set up) with an unregistered basement apartment and the duplex does not meet code on many fronts I have realized. The doors between top and bottom units are not fire rated doors. There is no sound insulation / separation in any way and I can clearly hear the conversions in the until below me. The drywall separating top and bottom is not to code for fire rating and the fire alarms are not connected between the two units. In short, it's a very illegal duplex in my opinion. I wish to terminate my lease as the scenario is not workable for me but I don't know if the lease can be deemed simply void due to the fact it is not a legally registered or built duplex, although it is rented out as such.
    • Jill | 26 Sep 2017, 05:32 PM Agree 0
      Hi Buck,

      In this case your best bet may be to call the city's Property Standards office and have them come inspect the property. They would then serve your landlord notice to have these problems rectified. If you can get documentation that the unit is unsafe (e.g. not meeting fire code), you could apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to terminate your lease. You can call your local free Legal Centre for actual legal advice on the best approach as well. :)
      Good luck!
  • Sarah | 23 Jun 2017, 06:47 PM Agree 0

    I moved into my current unit on January 19, 2017, and on February 14, 2017, I woke up to movement below my bed and saw a mouse. Needless to say, I didn't go back to sleep that night and was afraid to get down from my bed. I stayed up all night researching about mice and called my management office as soon as they opened and notified of my finding and my legitimate fear of mice. They said that they will add me to the pest control round that week and someone came after days. To my surprise, the pest control gentleman came and drop off a bate in my bedroom (since that's where I said I noticed the mice) and left. The problem continued with me finding more mice and pest control coming to drop off more bates. This continued on until mid-April I couldn't take it anymore as the bates weren't doing anything, and I was finding them in my stove. I called public health and after few weeks of waiting for an inspector to call me back, I had one call me and she contacted my management to do an inspection. The inspection didn't take place, but they did send a maintenance worker who came placed foam in the holes under the radiator and opening in the kitchen cabinets on April 28. By first week of May, I filed a T6 with LTB against my landlord and had a hearing this month that was pushed back to August. I found more droppings around the unit end of May and saw one early June, but I lost all faith in my management and instead started avoiding staying at my place and crashing at friend's houses. My question, I have everything documented including dates conversations with management, work order forms, and public health record but I'm afraid of being denied my requested remedy of being able to break my least. Do they normally deny people given this level of exhausted attempts with management to rectify the situation appropriately? Thank you in advance!
    • Jill | 26 Sep 2017, 05:16 PM Agree 0
      Hi Sarah,

      Sincerely hope your situation has been resolved by now. To answer your question, you should have no problem breaking your lease at this point. Your landlord is failing to provide a safe/healthy living environment and that is a completely justified reason to leave. The fact that you have carefully documented each step you have taken and the failures of the landlord to respond appropriately works highly in your favour. Frankly I am surprised at the response from Public Health as they should have had the unit inspected quite promptly - themselves. The whole point is to ascertain if your management/landlord is being neglectful. I would definitely be calling them back.

      Again, hope your situation is already resolved and best of luck. I highly recommend reading through the RTA and arming yourself with knowledge of your rights. You can find it online by searching "Residential Tenancies Act Ontario" or check out the Landlord and Tenant Board website for some useful brochures and FAQs.

  • HonestFact | 24 Jun 2017, 01:56 PM Agree 0
    I highly agree people lives changing. In Mississauga there are always so many people applying, landlords have a line up out the door to rent apartments. Its hard when your choice is to find an apartment or live on the street. I need two bedrooms but they're are so many people that leave nothing for us. What are people to do, leave their family on the street or move to an apartment that has more room? On Kijiji alone there are more listing of people looking for a place then apartments available.
  • Simmo | 03 Aug 2017, 02:42 PM Agree 0
    We are in a position where we need to relocate 5 months into a 1 year lease (2nd year) it is on a fixed term as we never anticipated moving. I have written to the Landlord advising her of the situation and asking if she would allow us to end the lease early, she is delaying giving us a definitive answer as she was planning on returning to live in the house on her return from the UK in the spring next year. Is this a legitimate reason to refuse us to end the lease early? Are we within our rights to ask the landlord to find another tenant for a 6 month term? Or can we offer to find a tenant for the remainder of the lease? I would like to end this on good terms but I would like to know what our rights are based on the house will not be offered for lease again by the owner after out lease ends (March 2018).
    • Jill | 26 Sep 2017, 05:26 PM Agree 0
      Hi Simmo,

      You can ask your landlord to agree to end your lease early using an N11 form but they do not have to agree (as seems to be the case). You can then ask to assign your lease or sublet to a tenant that you have found. Your landlord has 7 days to respond. If they deny you without cause or fail to respond, you can then end your lease with 30 days notice. Ending your tenancy in this case would be the N9 form.

      Your best bet may be to try to find someone to take over the remainder of your lease. It's unclear on whose responsibility that is, but it's in your landlord's best interests to help you with that. Ultimately you could walk away and it wouldn't really be worth their time to pursue you in small claims court (not that I'm recommending that action). A sublet is riskier to you because you remain on the hook for any problems caused by your subletter. Regardless, your rights don't change because your landlord doesn't want to resign someone for a year. That's their choice and it doesn't affect you.

      Speaking of, after a term lease expires the tenancy automatically turns into a month-to-month agreement in Ontario. You did not need to resign for another year. Just an FYI for the future.

      Read up on the RTA to know your rights. As well, you can speak with your local free Legal Clinic for help. :) Good luck!
  • | 28 Sep 2017, 07:46 PM Agree 0
    And what if that generally good Tennant gets a better careerate opportunity? Are they supposed to turn down better job prospects to protect a landlord? Especially when landlords in the area are renting at aproximate lyrics DOUBLE the value, due to recent developments in the community leading to a shortage?
  • John | 31 Oct 2017, 08:06 AM Agree 0
    Michael chill. Your tenants can leave regardless of the lease. What are you gonna do take them to court and cost yourself even more money than the winnings would be. Fat chance.
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  • RavynSkye | 25 Nov 2017, 04:38 AM Agree 0
    Maybe if landlords actually DID SOMETHING about crappy tenants, the good tenants wouldn't want to run away... I want to break my lease, only one month in. Since the day I moved here, it's been nothing but hell. First off, they had told us that the obvious damage to the apartment when we viewed it would be remodeled to livable conditions before we moved in. It wasn't. We've been without a liveable space for a month now. Secondly, the landlords do NOTHING about the constant parties that rage until 4am. They don't do anything about the parties in the parking garage at all hours of the day and night. The third day after we moved in, we saw BED BUGS coming through the crack in the walls, and it turned out they let us move into a unit, where the unit next door has a massive bed bug problem, roach problem, and mice problem, and the tenant there refuses to comply with any pest control protocols sufficiently to take care of it. We have seen garbage and rotted food thrown in the hallways, and the parking garage looks like a dump, because of the constant partying. They open the garage door for 50 of their closest friends, who then drive down in cars, and have tailgate parties - complete with children - that go all night long. This is intolerable.
  • LTB is BS | 26 Nov 2017, 06:46 PM Agree 0
    If LTB made it easier to evict bad tenants then a Landlord would be more likely to give someone a chance. The LTB is not helping tenants, they are effectively making those that need help the most, very difficult to get it. They should consider this and review their so called "tenant favoured" guidelines.
  • Marria | 06 Dec 2017, 03:33 PM Agree 0
    Do you have any solution how do i break my lease?? I just moved from BC and finiding so much problems to set up here, thats why want to go back to BC but not getting any solutions to break the lease. I already talked to my landlord, he said to find a new tenant for him, but his house is not a good environment to live and we are new here do dont know how long it will take to find a new tenant. This climate is making my family sick so we need to move back as soon as we can. Any suggestions please
  • jess | 15 Jan 2018, 03:55 AM Agree 0
    currently I'm co-leasing a home with a roommate. both signed our names to the lease. her dogs have attacked me a couple days ago, shes been threatening me, cussing me, degrading me and more. we have separate apartments with a door inbetween, and she has access to my apartment whenever she would like to. now I fear for my life and my little dogs life that she will come down here and start problems and/or release her pitbulls to attack me again. I'm going to file a police report and hopefully get a restraining order on her. If I do that, is there a chance I can break my lease and leave?
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