Separation and divorce
Moving before the lease ends
You’re a tenant and you’re separating? A divorce or separation doesn’t allow you to terminate your lease before it expires. This means that you’re still responsible for paying the rent. However, there are many ways to be relieved of this responsibility.
Check if your name appears on the lease. Paying part of the expenses related to the dwelling doesn’t necessarily make you a tenant. If you’re not a tenant, you don’t have to stay in the dwelling and can move out whenever you wish.
If your dwelling is in low-rental housing or in a student residence, there are specific rules to terminate your lease.
If you feel that your safety or your children’s safety is at risk, in some cases you may be able to resiliate your lease.
Reaching an agreement with the landlord to resiliate the lease
It may be beneficial to both you and your landlord to reach an agreement to resiliate (in other words, terminate) the lease before the expiry date.
After the date of resiliation, you will be released from your obligations as a tenant and can therefore move out. The landlord may once again use the dwelling as he or she sees fit, whether to lease it again or to consider other projects.
There are no specific rules governing a resiliation agreement. You have to negotiate with your landlord.
You can start by informing your landlord that you want to resiliate the lease and telling him the date you would like the lease to end.
If your landlord is reluctant to resiliate your lease, you can suggest an arrangement such as paying compensation or a portion of the remaining rent.
In any case, if you reach an agreement, it is important to put it in writing. This will be your proof that you’re no longer responsible for the dwelling.
Here is an example of lease resiliation agreement.
Letting your ex take over the lease
If your ex is not the tenant but wants to remain in the dwelling, he or she can send the landlord a notice that you have ceased living together. This will allow your ex to replace you as tenant.
It’s up to your ex whether to send this notice, however. You can’t force him or her to take over your obligations as a tenant without his or her consent. Therefore, you need to reach an agreement with your ex before one of you sends the notice to the landlord.
To let your ex take over the lease, you must be married or your ex must have lived in the dwelling for at least six months before your departure. The notice should also be sent to the landlord no later than two months after you move out.
Assigning your lease
You can assign your lease to another person, or in other words transfer it to someone else who will replace you as the tenant. In this situation, you’ll no longer be responsible for the lease once the transfer is made.
If you choose this option, you must notify your landlord, who will then have 15 days to accept or refuse the assignment. Your landlord can refuse the assignment only for a serious reason, for example, if the person you want to assign the lease to doesn’t have enough income to pay the rent.
Landlords can charge reasonable fees to verify the new tenant’s ability to pay, but they can’t claim other fees, such as administrative or assignment fees.
Subletting the dwelling
You may also sublet the dwelling to another person. However, in this situation, you have certain obligations towards the subtenant of your dwelling, and you’re still responsible for the lease in the eyes of the landlord. You also need to notify your landlord of the change in situation. The landlord may refuse the sublet for a serious reason, for example, if the person you wish to sublet the dwelling to does not have enough income to pay the rent.
Waiting until the lease ends
Finally, if none of the above options is possible, you will have to
wait until your lease expires to stop paying rent. Be sure to notify your landlord by sending a notice of non-renewal.
The deadline to send the notice of non-renewal to your landlord varies according to the term of your lease:
- Lease of 12 months or more: 3 to 6 months before the end,
- Lease of less than 12 months: 1 to 2 months before the end,
- Lease with an indeterminate term: 1 month before your departure if you pay a monthly rent.
For example, for a one-year lease ending on June 30, you must send the notice to your landlord between January 1 and March 31.
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The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.
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