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    What to Expect When Ending a Lease Early Part 1

    by Scott Hingst is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Life is both messy and difficult to anticipate, and this means that even the best lease agreements may need to be cut short. Career changes, family crisis and the unpredictable nature of life can cause the best tenants to vacate a property earlier than originally agreed upon.

    Whether the tenant is vacating due to being moved out of town for work or because a more ideal living situation has become available, it can be extremely pricey to end a tenancy early. However, there are a few ways to minimize the cost.


    It’s always best to be honest with your landlord, especially if the landlord/tenant relationship is a positive one. Moving out in the middle of the night without notice would leave any landlord with a bad taste in their mouth. By being open and honest about vacating early, the landlord is less likely to feel cheated and is more likely to result in a future positive reference.


    The more notice you are able to give the landlord, generally, the better. However, local Tenancy Act will set guidelines as to what lengths of notice are expected based on the type of lease agreement, such as month-to-month versus yearly fixed term.  The longer the notice the better, as this allows for the landlord to find and screen for a new tenant without the threat of missing out on collecting a rent payment and as a rule, a rent collecting landlord is an happy landlord.

    In the situation with a fixed lease term and a landlord is unwilling to break the lease, the tenant can ask to reassign the lease. This means that it is now the tenant’s responsibility to find a new tenant and fill the rental property.  Once a new tenant has been found and approved by the landlord, then the lease would be re-assigned to the new tenant and relieves the original tenant of any responsibilities to the lease. For more information on Subleasing and Lease Re-Assignment check out our blog post, “Subleasing and Lease Assignment: The Ins and Outs” here.

    If the landlord is being difficult and not allowing the tenant to lease assign, then the tenant is able to submit a Tenant’s Notice to Terminate the Tenancy. Again, please consult your local Tenancy Act for the steps and procedures required to successfully file a notice to terminate tenancy as the specific steps and timing may vary from city to city.


    Leaving without notice is probably not the best option and definitely the most costly.  No only does this leave the landlord upset and scrambling to make sure they don’t miss out on a month’s rent, but will definitely ruin any landlord/tenant relationship. Also, an upset landlord is going to be much more difficult when comes to matters such as the returning of the security deposit.

    If vacating without notice, the tenant remains responsible for the rent even though they are no longer occupying the residence, especially in cases of fixed term leases where the tenant can be made to pay out the rent for all months remaining in the lease terms. (Vacating a lease 6 months early would still means 6 months of rent payments!) Plus, the landlord is actually able to charge the tenant additional costs called Liquidated Damages, which are meant to cover the landlord’s costs for re-advertising the property before originally expected.

    For information on “What to Expecting When Ending a Lease Early” check out these links below:

    British Columbia Tenancy Act – Tenant Notice to End Tenancy

    The Toronto Star – What You Need to Know About Breaking A Lease

    Community Legal Education Ontario – Legal Ways to Move Out Early

    PDF: How a Tenant Can End Their Tenancy, Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board

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