How to Prematurely Break a Lease

By Christine Ahrens,

If you’re looking to break your lease agreement, you’ll need to pay close attention to your specific situation. While most contracts aim to keep you in the building for the year you’ve signed on for, it’s not impossible to find your way out of an unfortunate rental. We’ve outlined a few things to keep in mind when looking to leave your current lease so you can move into a new apartment.

Know Your Lease Agreement

The two most common kinds of leases are month-to-month and one-year leases. If you’re on a month-to-month lease, you’re required to give one rental period’s notice, or one month. If you’re on a one-year lease, things get a little trickier when trying to leave before your lease is up. 

One-year leases are a contract that requires you to have the apartment filled and paid for during that year. If you want to leave, you’ll need to find a sublet to take over for you. You’ll most likely need to find your replacement yourself, and have it approved by your landlord. Keep in mind that you may be charged a one-time administrative fee of up to $75 by the landlord for the transition.

Is Safety a Concern?

If your health or safety is at risk by living in your current building, you have a right to end your lease prematurely. If you’re in an apartment building, contact the building’s branch to make them aware of the issue, otherwise contact the landlord to make them aware of your concerns. You should be able to exit your lease as soon as possible; however, it would be smart to track the issues you’re having with photos and emails to build a case if necessary. 

Your Landlord is Raising the Rent Above the Guideline

Thanks to rent control, you should never be caught off guard by how much your rent is increased by year to year. However, your landlord can still apply for approval to increase your rent by more than the outlined amount. In the occasion that you’ve signed a new lease and your landlord has been approved to raise the rent more than the outlined amount after you’ve signed, you still have the right to end your lease, but with notice. 

Insufficient Agreement Renewal

Your landlord is required to offer your tenancy agreement renewal form for at least three months before the end of the existing agreement. If they do not, you may be able to exit the end of the existing agreement without notice. 

Ultimately, it’s important to know what your contract entails and keep documents of any reason your contract has been breached. Once you’ve found your way out of your contract, you as a tenant can give notice to your landlord verbally, however you may be asked to sign a printed notice. If your landlord asks you to do so, you are required to sign. 

Christine Ahrens is a content writer for 4Rent has been successfully connecting apartment hunters and property managers since 2009. Prospective tenants can explore a variety of rental listings across Canada, including condo-like apartments, single home-dwellings, student housing and more.