LANDLORD AND TENANT: TERMINATION OF TENANCY
When a landlord rents a unit to a person, they enter into a tenancy agreement (or lease) – a contract in which the tenant agrees to pay rent for the right to live in the rental unit. Usually, the landlord and tenant agree that the tenancy will last for a specific period of time – a fixed term tenancy. The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, has rules for how a landlord or tenant can end a residential tenancy.
A landlord and tenant can agree to end the tenancy at any time, even during the term of a lease. They can make an oral agreement to end the tenancy, but it is best to have a written agreement. This way, if there is any confusion about the agreement, both the landlord and tenant have a written copy to refer to. Written agreements should be signed by all parties included in the agreement.
A tenant and landlord can agree to end a tenancy early. The parties can make an oral agreement to end the tenancy, but it is best to have a written agreement. A notice of termination does not have to be given by either the landlord or the tenant if there is an agreement to end the tenancy.
Renewing a Lease
The end of a fixed term tenancy or lease does not mean that a tenant has to move out or sign a renewal or new lease in order to stay. The lease is renewed automatically on a month-to-month basis (if the rent is paid monthly) or week-to-week basis (if rent is paid weekly). This means the landlord and tenant do not have to sign a new fixed term lease when the term of the lease runs out. All the rules of the former lease will still apply to the landlord and tenant. The landlord and tenant can also agree to renew the tenancy agreement for another fixed term period, or enter into a new lease
If a new agreement is not reached, the tenant still has the right to stay:
- as a monthly tenant, if they paid their rent by the month in the expired lease, or
- as a weekly tenant, if they paid their rent by the week in the expired lease.
Where the tenant stays on as a monthly or weekly tenant, all the rules of the former lease will still apply to the landlord and tenant. But the landlord can increase the rent each year by the amount allowed under the Residential Tenancies Act.
Ending a Tenancy by a Landlord
A landlord can end a tenancy only for the reasons allowed by the Residential Tenancies Act:
- the landlord wants the rental unit for their own use or for the use of an immediate family member or a caregiver
- the landlord has agreed to sell the property and the purchaser wants all or part of the property for their own use or for the use of an immediate family member or a caregiver,
- the landlord plans major repairs or renovations that require a building permit and vacant possession
- the landlord plans to demolish the rental property
The landlord has to give the tenant notice in writing in a proper form approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board. If the tenant does not move out after receiving the notice, the landlord can ask the Landlord and Tenant Board to end the tenancy by filing an application. The Landlord and Tenant Board will decide if the tenancy should end after holding a hearing. Both the landlord and the tenant can come to the hearing and explain their side to a Member of the Board.
Landlords must use the correct notice form and fill it out completely and accurately to ensure that the tenant receives all the information that the Residential Tenancies Act requires. If the landlord does not give the tenant all the information required by the Act, the notice may be void. And, if the landlord files an application to evict the tenant based on an incomplete or incorrect notice, the application may be dismissed.
Reasons for Ending a Tenancy “For Cause”
The Residential Tenancies Act allows a landlord to give a tenant notice to end the tenancy early if the tenant, the tenant’s guest or someone else who lives in the rental unit does something they should not do, or does not do something they should. This is sometimes called ending a tenancy “for cause”. Some examples of “for cause” reasons for ending a tenancy are:
- not paying the rent in full
- causing damage to the rental property
- disturbing other tenants or the landlord
- illegal activity in the rental unit or residential complex.
Security of Tenancy
Tenants have security of tenancy. This means that a tenant can continue to occupy the rental unit until:
- the tenant decides to leave and gives the landlord proper notice that they intend to move out,
- the landlord and tenant agree that the tenant will move out, or
- the landlord gives the tenant a notice to end the tenancy for a reason allowed by the Act.
If the landlord gives a tenant a notice to end the tenancy, the tenant does not have to move out. The landlord must apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order allowing the eviction of the tenant. The tenant has the right to go to a hearing and explain why their tenancy should not end.
Ending a Tenancy by a Tenant
A tenant must give their landlord written notice if they plan to move out:
- If the tenant pays rent on a daily or weekly basis, the tenant must give at least 28 days notice.
- If the tenant pays rent on a monthly basis, the tenant must give at least 60 days notice.
- If the tenant has a lease for a fixed term, the tenant must give at least 60 days notice.
Assigning a tenancy and subletting
A tenant may be able to transfer their right to occupy the rental unit to someone else. This is called an assignment. In an assignment, a new person takes the place of the tenant, but all the terms of the rental agreement stay the same. A sublet occurs when a tenant moves out of the rental unit, lets another person live there for a period of time, but returns to live in the unit before the tenancy ends. In a sublet, the terms of the rental agreement and the landlord-tenant relationship do not change. A tenant must have the landlord’s approval for an assignment or a sublet, but, in either case, the landlord must have a good reason for refusing.
Remedy for a Tenant
For some of the “for cause” reasons for ending a tenancy, a tenant can prevent the tenancy from ending by stopping the behaviour referred to in the notice, or by doing what the notice requests. This is a called a tenant’s remedy. The notice explains what this is, and gives a deadline for the tenant to comply. If the tenant does what the notice asks them to do by the deadline, the notice to end the tenancy is then void. The landlord cannot apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to evict a tenant based on a void notice. For those reasons for ending a tenancy that do not have a remedy, the tenant cannot do anything to void the notice. However, this does not mean the tenant has to move out. If the tenant does not move out after receiving a notice to end the tenancy, the landlord can file an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board to end the tenancy. The Board will decide if the tenancy should end after holding a hearing. Both the landlord and the tenant can come to the hearing and explain their side of the story to a Member of the Board.
Application to the Landlord and Tenant Board
A landlord can apply to the Board for approval to end a tenancy if:
- the landlord gave the tenant a notice to end the tenancy
- the landlord and tenant have an agreement to end the tenancy
- the landlord wants to evict an unauthorized occupant
- the tenant gave the landlord a notice to end the tenancy
- the tenant breached a condition of a Landlord and Tenant Board order or mediated settlement and the order or settlement allowed the landlord to apply to end the tenancy
- the tenant abandoned the rental unit
If there is a “tenant remedy”, the landlord cannot file an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board unless the tenant fails to correct the behavior referred to in the notice, or fails to do what the notice requested, by the deadline set out in the notice. Where the tenant does not have a remedy, the landlord can file their application as soon as they give the notice to the tenant. In most cases, there is a deadline by which the landlord must file their application to the Landlord and Tenant Board.
In most cases, the Landlord and Tenant Board will schedule a hearing to decide the landlord’s application. The landlord must inform tenant of the hearing by giving a copy of the Notice of Hearing and a copy of the application to the tenant. Tenant can dispute the application at the hearing. At the hearing, a landlord will have to prove that the tenant should be evicted. The tenant can go to the hearing to explain why they should not be evicted, even if they have done something that is a reason for eviction. Even though a landlord proves their case in an application to evict a tenant, the Landlord and Tenant Board must consider all the circumstances of each case to decide whether or not the eviction should be refused or delayed.
A Member of the Board will make a decision about the landlord’s application and issue an order. If it is an eviction order, and if a tenant does not leave the rental unit by the termination date in the eviction order, a landlord cannot personally enforce the order (remove a tenant from a rental unit or change the locks). An eviction order can only be enforced by the Court Enforcement Office (the “Sheriff’s Office”). Only the Sheriff can evict a tenant. The landlord must file a copy of the Landlord and Tenant Board order with the Sheriff’s Office to have the order enforced. The Sheriff’s Office will charge the landlord a fee for the enforcement of the order.
If you are a tenant you can get free legal assistance from the Landlord and Tenant Board at the hearing. Or you can simply contact CP Paralegal Services, and we will help you to fight for your rights.
If you are a landlord you should remember, that at the Landlord and Tenant board you will not be provided with any legal advice. If you think that your rights have been violated, do not wait. Act fast! Do you know that you have to wait minimum 14 days after serving a notice of termination to your tenant prior to filing the application to terminate the tenancy? It can take up to 4 months from the time notice is served, until the Sheriff shows up to enforce the eviction. Often, it is not about money. In most cases, a landlord is happy enough to get the tenant out of their property. Contact CP Paralegal Services as soon as rent is late, and we will prepare the proper notice for you and fight for your rights.
CP Paralegal Services can give you an advice on all residential tenancy matters or represent you at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board.
We are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and can ensure you are in compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act.