1/2 Paperwork Explained (Exiting a Lease)

Legal texts aren’t always easy to understand! If you’re a renter, here are two articles to help clarify things for you.

There are links to different forms and sample letters or contracts throughout the text.

  • My options when exiting a lease
  • My rights when entering a lease

My options when exiting a lease

First of all, you should know that, when it comes to rental agreements and letters, there are deadlines for responding. If you or the landlord doesn’t respond in time, this is generally interpreted as a tacit agreement.

Are you moving in more than three months?

If you leave at the end of a typical 12-month lease agreement, you must notify the landlord at least three months before the end of the term. If you don’t, the lease will be automatically renewed for another 12-month period with your signature at the bottom. You can find more details here.

Do you need to get out of your lease agreement before it expires?

If you need to move during the term of your lease or if you’ve forgotten to notify the landlord in time, don’t panic! You have three options to avoid paying for the unused months.

Option 1: Assigning your lease

This means transferring your lease agreement to someone else. This “someone else” will become the new renter. You will no longer be responsible for paying the rent or for the condition the property is left in.

You must notify the landlord of your decision to assign your lease, and he or she will have 15 days to refuse based on reasonable grounds. If the landlord fails to respond within this 15-day window, this is equivalent to accepting your decision. If you or the new tenant has any particular requirements, such as repainting a wall or making repairs, you need to indicate them in the agreement.

Option 2: Subletting, a riskier, but sometimes advantageous option

This means that someone else pays to live on the premises while you remain the legal renter. In other words, you pay the landlord and the subtenant to pays you. The catch is that you remain legally responsible. So if your subtenant decides to be a little clown and run away to Mexico, you’re the one who will be stuck paying off the lease and you’re the one who will have to chase the subtenant down to recover your money.

The bright side of subletting is that you’ll have the right to come back and live on the premises once the sublease is over. So it’s an ideal solution when you want to hang on to your great apartment while you spend two months abroad.

You must notify the landlord of your intent to sublet and give him or her at least 15 days to refuse (on reasonable grounds). For more information, take a look at this article.

Option 3: Talk to your landlord (nicely)

Your landlord is a human being, so if you ever miss a deadline, you can always try talking to him or her in order to come to some kind of an agreement. There’s no guarantee that it will work, but it’s always worth a shot…

Don’t forget to put all agreements in writing!

*This information is provided solely for purposes of illustration. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the Régie du Logement du Québec (the Quebec Housing Authority).