What Happens When You Breakup With Your Partner During a Lease in Mississauga?


It can happen to anyone.

Things are going so well. You’ve introduced each other to friends and family. You’ve gone on trips and weekend getaways together. You’ve never felt so connected and secure so, to make life easier—and in most cases, happier—you rent an apartment together.

Then it all goes wrong.

Many men and women find themselves in a precarious position when they breakup with their partner in the middle of their lease. You may be left wondering who is on the hook for the rent, or what kind of action the landlord can take against you or your partner.

Residential leases are governed by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) in the province of Ontario. Many lease agreements intend for the tenants to reside in the unit for a period of one year. After that period, your tenancy automatically converts to a monthly tenancy and you may remain in the unit until the landlord obtains an eviction order against you from the Landlord and Tenant Board.

But what about situations where a couple is living together and one (or both) partners want to leave before the end of their lease?

Unfortunately, if you've entered into a lease for a fixed period (i.e. exactly one year), then the RTA requires that notice be given at least 60 days before the expiration date specified in the tenancy agreement, to be effective on that expiration date. In order words, early termination is not generally permitted.

There are some exceptions; for example, a tenant may terminate a tenancy with 28 days of notice to the landlord if the tenant has experienced violence (or another form of abuse) or a child residing with the tenant has experienced violence or another form of abuse. The RTA is very specific about what situations in which a tenant will be deemed to have experienced violence or another form of abuse. Such situations include (and extend beyond) the following:

  • intentional or reckless acts or omissions that caused bodily harm to the tenant or the child or damage to property
  • an act or omission or threatened act or omission that caused the tenant or the child to fear for his or her own safety or the child's safety
  • forced confinement of the tenant or the child, without lawful authority
  • the tenant alleges that sexual violence has been committed against the tenant or the child

Aside from the general provisions of the RTA, it's important to have a working knowledge of the lease agreement which governs the landlord and tenant relationship. Are both partners indicated as tenants on the agreement? Did both partners sign the document? If both partners signed the lease, then you are both obligated to pay the rent and you are each entitled to stay. One partner cannot tell the other to move out in those circumstances. On the other hand, if you both wish to leave before the end of your lease has expired, it may be prudent to simply negotiate with your landlord about terminating the lease. Some landlords are more receptive to this request if a replacement (or sublet) is found.

What about a situation where one partner signed the lease, and the other one didn't? What if the partner who didn't sign the lease wishes to remain in the unit and the partner who did sign the lease wishes to leave? Unfortunately, the tenant in this scenario is the person whose name appears on the lease agreement. That person remains obligated to pay the rent, whether they continue to reside in the unit or not. Both partners and the landlord may agree to assign the lease to the partner who wishes to stay, and that person would then become the new sole tenant; however, this cannot be done without the landlord's consent. Some landlords may request credit checks and the other usual screening of tenants before agreeing to such a change.

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