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What happens if I want to break my lease?


What happens if I want to break my lease?

The question was: I wanted to ask you what are the consequences to breaking the lease? I didn't see anything specific on the lease we have with the landlord and wanted to know.

Thanks, J

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My answer was:

Hi J,

There are a few options available to you.

Typically, you can't break a lease, unless you and landlord agree to penalty which is typically 2 months rent. I've even seen more than this amount, but 2 months is typical. The reason for a penalty is that it causes much aggravation for the landlord plus the landlord needs to re-rent the unit and this typically costs the landlord one month rent plus 13% HST on the one month commission so the landlord needs to recover their costs to re-rent the unit.

The whole point of you signing a 1 year lease or longer is so that you have 'security of tenancy' meaning that you cannot be removed from the unit during the term of your lease (unless for something like a flood or fire or extreme emergency major renovation, but you still have first right to re-enter the unit once it's ready) AND your rent is fixed for the duration of the term. These are two very important points in your favour as a tenant. There are many others, but these are the major reasons for a fixed term lease.

The other option to get out of your lease is to assign the lease to someone else who will live in the unit or for you to sublet the unit to someone else. If you find a tenant who wants to live in the unit for the balance of your lease and the landlord agrees to accept that new tenant (after a credit and reference check) then that person can move into your unit and the new tenant will pay the landlord, this is s sublet. You are still ultimately responsible for the rent payment if the person who sublets doesn't pay, but that doesn't happen too often.

If you assign your lease to another person and they move into your unit, then your lease is void and you are not responsible any time in the future.

If you leave in the middle of your lease, the landlord can easily take you to court, even if you don't attend court, they will obtain a judgment in favour of the rental amount and the landlord can serve that judgment on your place of work and garnish your wages. They can also lien your vehicle and other remedies, I'm not an expert, but these are some of the options available to the landlord.

If you absolutely must break your lease, the best course of action is to give plenty of notice, pay a penalty for breaking the lease early and move on OR stay to the end and give your proper notice.

I hope that this helps!

Please let me know if you have any other questions or require further information.

Thank you,


Rental guidelines and previous rules and guildlines

For more information on this and other matters, please contact the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal at 416-645-8080 or 1-888-332-3234.


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