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Q3: Can I end my lease early? And do I have to give notice?
A3: It depends on what type of tenant you are.
If the original lease you signed has not expired, check the date. It is probably for a term of one year and you have a commitment towards that lease. Talk to your landlord and if they will agree to early termination of the lease get it in writing, including the date you will be leaving and make sure the landlord and you both sign the document. If your landlord will not agree to any early termination of your lease, call your lawyer or your Legal Clinic (see my Tenant Resources in Ontario list). The tenant is obliged to give the landlord 60 days minimum written notice of their intentions to leave.
If you never had a lease, or if your original lease expired and you have continued to live in the apartment without signing another one, and you pay your rent on a monthly basis, you have a month-to-month tenancy. You must still give at lease 60 days written notice before the end of the last month you intend to live there.
If you give your notice late, you will be responsible for an extra month. Remember: this is a full 60 days notice minimum you must give, which may be more than two months; because February only has 28 days in it.
Tenants who rent on a week-to-week basis need only give 28 days notice.
Q4: Are fees for "breaking a lease" legal?
It appears under Section 140 of the new law (TPA) that it is illegal to be charged a fee for terminating a lease. If you have signed a lease for a specific period (such as your first year,) and you want to terminate it before the its official (legal) end, you may wish to pay a reasonable fee if requested by the landlord to gain their cooperation, but make sure you get the agreement that you will no longer be responsible for the rent after the agreed upon date in writing first.
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