Legal ways to move out early
Sometimes tenants need to move before the term of the tenancy is over, or without having enough time to give proper notice. To be sure that you will not owe extra rent if you are in this situation, you can:
- get your landlord to agree to end your tenancy,
- assign or sublet your place to a new tenant,
- give notice if your landlord refuses to let you assign, or
- get the Landlord and Tenant Board to end your tenancy.
See below sections for more information.
If you have to move because of domestic or sexual violence or abuse, you might be able to give your landlord 30 days’ notice. See, Moving to escape domestic or sexual violence or abuse for more information.
You also might be able to leave without giving proper notice if something happens that makes it impossible for you to live in your place. For example:
- there is a serious danger to your health or safety,
- your place is not fit to live in, or
- your landlord will not stop harassing you.
Try to get legal advice before you decide to move out for any of these reasons. It is usually safer to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board first, unless the conditions are so bad that you must leave right away. Try to take photographs or gather other evidence before you leave or before your hearing at the Board. See, Where to get help for more information about applying to the Board.
Making an agreement to move early
You can ask your landlord to agree to end your tenancy before the end of your rental period or term, or on short notice. Sometimes landlords are happy to do this because they are allowed to charge a new tenant more rent than they can charge you.
If your landlord agrees to this, it is a good idea to put the agreement in writing. You should both sign an Agreement to Terminate a Tenancy (Form N11). You can get a blank form from the Board.
It is best to use the Form N11. But if you write an agreement yourself, it must include:
- the address of the place you are moving out of,
- a statement that you and your landlord agree to end the tenancy,
- the date the tenancy will end (which can be any date you and your landlord agree to),
- your signature and your landlord's signature, and
- the date you each signed the agreement.
Make sure you keep a copy of the agreement.
Important: If you make this type of agreement but do not move on the date you agreed to, your landlord can apply right away to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an eviction order. Your landlord can do this without telling you or giving you any papers. This could happen even if the agreement was not in writing.
Assigning your place
Another legal way to move out early is to assign your place to a new tenant.
Assigning means that the new tenant takes over your tenancy. The new tenant does not need to make a new agreement with the landlord and the rent stays the same. If you assign your tenancy, you do not have the right to move back in, and you are not responsible if the new tenant causes damage or owes rent.
If you want to assign your place, you must ask your landlord to agree to let you do this. It is best to ask in writing and to keep a copy of your request.
If your landlord refuses to let you assign at all or does not give you an answer within 7 days, you can give your landlord a Tenant's Notice to Terminate the Tenancy (Form N9). You must give your landlord the notice no later than 30 days after you asked if you could assign your place. In this situation, the usual rules about the timing of your notice do not apply. The termination date you choose does not have to be the end of the term or a rental period, and you only have to give the notice to your landlord at least 30 days before the termination date or 28 days if you have a weekly tenancy.
Your landlord can refuse to let you assign to a particular person, but only for a good reason. For example, the person caused problems for a landlord in the past, such as damaging property or not paying rent.
Subletting your place
If you only want to leave your place for a few months and then return, you might be able to sublet to someone else while you are gone. To do this, you have to get your landlord to agree. But your landlord cannot refuse without a good reason. The rules about subletting are complicated. Try to get legal advice before you sublet.
If you sublet, you cannot charge more rent than the landlord charges you.
Be careful who you choose to sublet to. You will be responsible if that person causes damage or does not pay all the rent.
Exception: You cannot assign or sublet if you live in:
- subsidized housing,
- a superintendent's unit, or
- housing provided by a school where you work or are a student.
Problems with assigning and subletting
Try to get legal help if your landlord:
- says that you cannot sublet to anyone,
- says that you can sublet or assign, but then rejects the tenants you suggest without giving you a good reason,
- discriminates against people you want to assign or sublet to, for reasons such as race, religion, colour, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, being on social assistance, or having children, or
- charges you a sublet or assignment fee that is more than your landlord had to spend on things like advertising and credit checks.
Moving to escape domestic or sexual violence or abuse
If you need to move because you, or a child living with you, have experienced domestic violence or sexual abuse, you might be able to give your landlord just 30 days’ notice.
To do this, you have to use the Landlord and Tenant Board’s new Form N15 — Tenant’s Notice to End my Tenancy Because of Fear or Sexual or Domestic Violence and Abuse.
You can give this notice at any time. You do not have to wait until the end of the lease or rental period.
You must also give your landlord one of the following:
- a copy of a peace bond or restraining order against the abuser, or
- a Landlord and Tenant Board form called Tenant’s Statement about Sexual or Domestic Violence and Abuse.
For more information, go to www.stepstojustice.ca. Click on "Legal Topics" and then "Housing Law". Click on "Moving out" and then What if I need to move quickly because of violence or abuse?"
Applying to the Landlord and Tenant Board to end your tenancy
You can ask the Board to let you move out early if your landlord:
- harasses you,
- refuses to fix serious repair problems,
- enters your apartment illegally,
- changes the locks and does not give you a key,
- interferes with the heat, water, electricity, or other utilities,
- does other things that make it unpleasant to live in your apartment, or
- is unreasonable when you ask to assign or sublet.
You can also ask the Board for other solutions to your problem. Try to get legal advice if you are applying to the Board.