Tenants Speak Out – “Ontario Tenants Can Now Easily Break Your Lease…And This Is A Good Thing!”
As part of our “Let’s Improve the Ontario Rental Industry” we have invited landlords and tenants to share their opinions on how we can make these improvements. These opinions are from individual contributors and are not the opinions of the Ontario Landlords Association. We believe by fostering communication between landlords and tenants we can improve the Ontario rental industry. Landlords and tenants can share your thoughts and opinions by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ontario Tenants Can Now Easily Break the Lease…And This Is A Good Thing!
I want to thank the people here who have invited all important stakeholders, including tenants. Ontario Landlords Association has proven it is open to lots of views for all of us to play a role with a goal of improving the rental industry. Thank you for providing this venue for my concerns and agreeing to not censor anything I have to say. My opinions are extremely important and need to be heard.
I’m a young professional who has been renting for the past six years. There are numerous reasons why renting has been the best option for me. The most important is the need for me to be as flexible as possible when it comes to my career.
The days of getting a good education, landing an entry level job and then staying at the job for decades are over. These days young people are constantly jumping from one job to another not out of choice, but out of necessity.
For example, I was hired at a new start-up that looked like it had a good future. With some good funding and a good business plan and dynamic goals the company looked like a place for me to grow and prosper. This led to a move to a new city and the search for a new rental apartment and a fixed term lease.
The problem with these companies is they aren’t stable and after 15 months the company was bleeding money and people where either given less hours and salary or asked to leave. It wasn’t the quality of the employees as we had a wonderful, top-notch team like myself. The problem was the hyper competitive space we were in and how many new companies don’t last longer than a year or two.
So while I was eventually unemployed I was still locked into a fixed term lease with my landlord for the remaining months. I was forced to spend most of my meager savings paying those months of rent when I should have been looking for work in another location. Spending money on rent is not productive for our economy and just a waste.
My Landlord Refused To Let Me Out Of the Fixed Term Lease When I Really, Really Needed A Break!
I explained the situation to my landlord and requested to break the lease. I was honest and upfront about it and hoped beyond all hope the landlord would be understanding and agree with my demand.
I was what you would call ‘a great tenant’ and was barely ever even home with all the overtime put in at work. Rent was paid by e-transfer and the property was kept in great situation as my cats and I created a really nice space.
Instead he told me “a lease is a lease” and that “you signed it” and he refused to let me out of it. His tone was one of moral superiority as he mansplained his misguided and outdated ideas that simply don’t fit the modern economy.
Before you agree with him, let me tell you that with low vacancy rates I had to sign a fixed term lease because that’s all that was being offered! If I had refused to sign it I would not have been able to find a home and would not have been able to begin my employment.
Landlords Dehumanizing Tenants and Weaponizing Leases!
His lecturing me on being irresponsible didn’t set well with me at all and it was a hard lesson on how landlords view tenants. But I was left with little choice but to stay there when other attractive job opportunities were in other cities and I was stuck with long drives and bus trips for job interviews while being “locked in” by an uncaring landlord.
Landlords have so many tenants to choose from and it’s so easy to re-rent and keep the money flowing
All he had to do was let me go and put an ad up and he would have found a new tenant within days, if not hours. No this was personal.
He wanted to use the system to keep me penned in and under his control.
The idea of sub-letting didn’t make sense because then I would be doing the work of the landlord in finding a tenant and be responsible for the rent of the sub-letter when I’m not even a landlord and don’t know their tricks of trade. Why should I have to do this extra work and take on the risks of find a bad sub-letter?
I was trapped.
While my landlord was getting rich off my back my future was quickly slipping away. I was stuck and saw my future getting cremated.
Despite my pleas the landlord said I was locked in
Tenants In This Era Need Maximum Mobility And Landlords Need To Be Aware Of This
I continue to get landlords demanding a fixed term lease. With such low vacancy rates in Toronto and all over Ontario tenants are really stuck in a difficult situation with all the economic uncertainty we face.
It’s not just a problem for me, but for thousands of other hard working young people beginning our careers and hoping to survive and thrive. Landlords simply are not understanding and seem to view tenants as ‘rent checks’ instead of the human beings we are.
New Rules For Landlords and Some Justice for Tenants
There have been some important changes to the rules of landlords and tenants this year. Some of the changes are really helpful for tenants. For example, rent control on all rentals will help people who need a long term place to stay.
Another really helpful change for tenants is something most tenants are NOT aware of and this is why I’m emailing this in to you. While landlords are always networking and sharing your bad tenant lists and other illegal things, tenants are simply too busy working to earn money (a lot of which pays rent!) to have any time to organize and educate each other.
The reality is Ontario tenants get no help, no support and we are on our own in a landlord-friendly system.
Ontario Tenants Can Now Easily Break the Lease…And This Is A Good Thing!
The fixed term lease issue really caused me a big problem when I already had enough problems. Even though rent was always paid and the place was basically empty most of the time, when I needed a break my landlord scolded me and basically told me to get screwed.
It was a horrible experience and one I won’t ever forget when times were so tough and trips to the food bank were part of my regular routine to survive.
If you need to break a lease first of all talk to your landlord. Maybe you will have better luck than me. I’m sure there are lots of caring people out there who will understand your situation and you can work something out together. This is the ideal situation. Who knows you might find someone fair and with an education level higher than the average landlord (grade 10 high school drop out would be my guess as the average education level).
But in my case I basically got a slap on the face when I requested a break. So if you are in the horrific situation I faced with a cold hearted landlord who treats you like meat while you can barely afford to live and are going to the food bank to survive…well this is what you can do.
How Can Ontario Tenants Easily Break A Fixed Term Lease If Your Landlord Disrespects You?
Last April we saw the provincial government finally listen to our concerns and they created the Rental Fairness Act which made changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.
Now landlords can’t collect arrears for rent due once Tenants receive a “Termination Notice”.
You can see in the Residential Tenancies Act, Section 37, that states that once the landlord gives the Tenant a notice of termination, the tenancy ends of that date of termination the landlord put in the notice.
With the Rental Fairness Act we finally get some real clear facts on once the Tenant gets the termination date, you break your lease and you are off the hook!:
134(1.1) No landlord shall, directly or indirectly, with respect to any rental unit, collect or require or attempt to collect or require from a former tenant of the rental unit any amount of money purporting to be rent in respect of,
(a) any period after the tenancy has terminated and the tenant has vacated the rental unit; or
(b) any period after the tenant’s interest in the tenancy has terminated and the tenant has vacated the rental unit. 2017, c. 13, s. 24 (2).
How Can Tenants Break a Fixed Term Lease Under the New Rules?
Remember, if the landlord gives you a notice with a “termination date” which basically means “Do this or the tenancy ends” you can just “don’t do what they say” and break the lease. After all the N4 and N5 says “move out” so you can just move.
You are then free of the lease.
So How Does This Work To Save Tenants in Real Life Situations Like I Faced With A Horrible Landlord Who Treated Me Like Crap?
If the landlord has a problem with you then have to go to the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board website and serve you a document.
In the most common cases this “notice” will tell you either to “pay the rent” or “fix your behaviour” or move out. Before there was confusion on what happened if tenants just “moved out”.
All the Old Confusion Has Now Been Clarified: You Get an N Form, You Can Just Leave With No Penalties!
For example, maybe you just moved in and signed a one year fixed term lease. Then you lost your job after two months and wanted to move even though you had 10 months left on your lease. So you don’t pay rent.
The landlord would serve you “notice” such an N4 and even if you moved out there was confusion that maybe even though you moved out the landlord could chase you for the 10 months remaining on fixed term lease. It wasn’t clear and we even used to argue this on the old FMTA forum and some tenants said we would still owe the 10 months!
Now it’s clear, YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY AND ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE AS YOUR LANDLORD TOLD YOU TO MOVE!
Things Are Clear Now – If The Landlord Gives You a Termination Date and You Move the Tenancy Is Over!
This is really a great change for tenants. And it makes sense because if you don’t pay rent or do something that the landlord disapproves of they will tell you to pay the rent or stop doing something or move out. So now you can just move out.
How Does This Work in The Real World?
Like I wrote before if you have a non-exploitative landlord you will probably be able to work something out together. I’m sure there are lots of good landlords out there who are will to treat tenants with respect and understanding. This is the best option.
The problem is there are lots of bad landlords out there too. These are people who see you as a monthly rent check and don’t realize that housing is a Human Right and tenants are human beings.
So here’s what you can do if you face these types of landlords.
Sure it’s a little bit sneaky but tenants have to do what have to do to survive in this unfair situation.
So How Can Ontario Tenants Break a Lease?
I wish I knew this before. I don’t what anyone to suffer like I did.
(1) Just Don’t Pay Rent!
The Landlord Gives You a Form “N4 – Notice To End A Tenancy Early For Non-Payment of Rent“
Probably the easiest way to break the lease under the new rules is just don’t pay rent.
If you don’t pay the rent when it is due the landlord will give you a form N4. This is notice to end a tenancy early for non-payment of rent. On the N4 the landlord will have to provide a “termination date”. If you pay the rent monthly the landlord will usually give you 14 days to pay the rent or leave. Let’s look at the instructions for the N4 from the Landlord and Tenant Board itself:
The termination date
The earliest date you can put in this field depends on the type of tenancy
you have with your tenant:
If your rental agreement with the tenant requires the tenant to pay rent on a monthly, bi-weekly or yearly
basis, the termination date must be at least 14 days after you give the notice to the tenant.
When you are counting the days, do not include the date you are giving the notice to the tenant. If you are faxing the notice, the notice is deemed to be given on the date imprinted on the fax. If you are sending the notice by courier, add one business day for delivery. If you are sending the notice by mail , add five days for delivery.
When Sally Harrison (the landlord) and Jerome Kielty (the tenant) entered into their tenancy agreement, they agreed that rent would be paid on the first day of each month. Jerome did not pay the rent on March 1st, as required, so Sally decides to give him an N4 notice. Sally is preparing the notice on March 3rd. If she decides to hand the notice to Jerome in person on March 3rd, she can fill in March 17th as the termination date (14 days after March 3rd). But, if she intends to put the notice in the mail on March 3rd, she has to add five calendar days, bringing the termination date to March 22nd (14 days + 5 days for mailing).
If You Want To Break A Fixed Term Lease Just Don’t Pay the Rent
As you can see the landlord will serve you notice to pay or move. So just move! You are only following the demands of your landlord and then you can find a cheaper apartment or move somewhere for job seeking.
Let’s go through these steps to make it clear:
Step 1 – Rent is Due
Step 2 – You Don’t Pay Rent
Step 3 – The landlord wants your money so will give you N4 Notice to End The Tenancy For Non-Payment of Rent
Step 4 – The N4 says: “Pay this amount by _____ (This is called the termination date) or Move Out By the Termination Date”
Step 5 – Just move out at the termination date and the lease is broken and you are home free!!
(2) Make Some Disturbances Make Disturbances Suck As Bothering Other Tenants or Do Damages
Do The Things And The Landlord Will Serve you an N5 Notice to End Your Tenancy for Interfering With Others, Damage, or Overcrowding
This is another good option to get out of your lease.
Right on the top of this form N5 the landlord has to say “I am giving you this notice because I want to end your tenancy. I want you to move out of your rental unit by the following termination date” That’s great…you just move out when they say they want you to move out and the tenancy is over and you are free from any obligations!
Let’s break this down:
Step 1: Make Noise, Damages or Overcrowd the rental
Step 2: The Landlord Will Give You an N5 Notice to End Your Tenancy for Interfering With Other, or Overcrowding
Step 3: The N5 Will Have A Termination Date. The N5 will say “I am giving you this notice because I want to end your tenancy. I want you to move out of your rental unit by the following termination date __________”
Step 4: On or Before the Termination Date……….just move out by the termination date and you are home free!!
Try not to bother other tenants so much, but noise, smoking or these types of things will lead to an N5 and then you can leave free and in peace for a better, cheaper apartment.
Try to talk with other tenants so if you are making noise or going to smoke or flood the place, they can complain quickly to the landlord get get the N5 process going fast without really creating any trouble for your fellow tenants.
Always respect other tenants in your building as they are hard working people paying huge rents, often to cold hearted landlords who treat us like dirt like my former landlord did when I needed to break a lease agreement.
Being Able To Break Fixed Term Leases Easily Is the First Step in Creating a Better Rental Industry
Things are still really unfair. But I want to make sure tenants are at least aware how the new rules make it okay to break fixed term leases.
I’ll write more later on and hope other Tenants and fair-minded landlords can make positive contributions here. Make sure you contact a local legal aid centre for any advice you might have as I’m just providing a general, helpful, model for everyone.
Ontario Tenants Have No Rights And Are Held Hostage By Heartless Money Grubbing Landlords…So We Must Work Together To Survive in This Era of Low Vacancy Rates
I paid my rent on time and there is no way anyone could say I wasn’t a great tenant. But when I needed a break after losing my job my landlord dehumanized me and used the lease as a weapon to harm me.
This is why I’m happy there is now an easy way “out” for tenants. I hope many of you reading will be helped by first contribution and there will be many more to come because it’s time for fairness and making sure good tenants aren’t hurt.
Tenant Lives Matter And Tenants Can Break Free From The Bondage and Humiliation of Leases!
You are not a slave you are free (please put the picture I sent because we are like slaves as tenants). I would also like to take this opportunity to send a massive F*** Y** to my former landlord who enslaved me and hurt my life. I hate you and am cursing you and your family every day for the rest of my life!
Ontario Tenants Can Now Easily Break Your Lease…And This Is A Good Thing!
Tenants in Ontario are at the mercy of landlords. We have no support, no help and the rules are biased against us. I hope this helps other who have faced the same horrific conditions I did. If you want to discuss this and other topics I will be in the Ontario Tenant Forum.