Updated August 2020
Picture this situation: You rent out your property, a tenant moves in, you enter into a tenancy agreement, probably a fixed-term tenancy, but circumstances change and you need your property back. You may wonder about how a landlord can end a tenancy in Ontario after a few months. What do you do?
Obviously, you don’t want to be the landlord who brushes off rules and deals badly with their tenants because this will definitely reflect badly on your business, not to mention the possibility of a conviction for breaking the law.
Can a landlord break a lease in Ontario? Absolutely yes. But before going ahead to terminate a residential tenancy, make sure your basis for doing it is rooted in the Residential Tenancies Act and the Rental Fairness Act.
Not sure how to go about the entire process? By the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea about how a landlord can end a tenancy in Ontario, in addition to knowing everything else in relation to ending a tenancy. We always recommend you get legal advice. This article is to provide general information.
What Reasons Do I Need to End a Tenancy Lease in Ontario?
The Residential Tenancies Act allows you to discontinue the tenancy early if your tenant, their guest, or anyone else who inhabits the rental unit does something they are not supposed to do or fails to do something expected of them.
‘For cause’ is the alternative term used to describe ending a tenancy this way. Common examples include when the tenant:
- Fails to pay their rent in full or is always late in paying it
- Causes damage to the rental property
- Disturbs you or other tenants
- Engages in illegal activity in the rental property or within the residential complex
- Allows too many people to reside in the rental unit
The act also specifies additional reasons for terminating a tenancy that has nothing to do with what the tenant did or didn’t do. More often, they are called ‘no-fault’ reasons. Examples include:
- When you plan to carry out major renovations or repairs that require a building permit. Usually, you won’t proceed with such work unless the rental property is empty.
- When you, the landlord, wants back the rental unit for your own use or for use by your immediate family member (i.e. spouse, child, parent, spouse’s child, or parent).
On September 1, 2017, the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board introduced new rules for landlords who would like to end a tenancy so they or their immediate family member can use the property, and the act includes the consequences for acting in bad faith.
- When there’s an agreement to sell the property and the buyer wants all or part of the property because they or an immediate member of their family wishes to use the property. Please check with the LTB as there may be some limitations.
How a Landlord Can End a Tenancy In Ontario
As you are about to learn, ending a tenancy lease can take place in various forms depending on the different situations that may arise during the process.
Can You Agree With a Tenant to End Tenancy?
Yes. As a landlord, you can reach an agreement with your tenant to terminate the tenancy anytime, even within the time set in the lease.
Some landlords may choose to do this orally, but it’s best if you have a written agreement signed by both you and the tenant, for the sake of any confusion that may arise later. You can use Form N11, which the board specifically made for this purpose.
When both of you agree the tenancy should come to an end and you’re all signed the form to end it, the tenant will then be required to move out of the rental unit by the date specified on the form.
Please note you can’t compel the tenant to sign the agreement to end the tenancy or, at the beginning of their tenancy, require them to sign an agreement to terminate the tenancy at a later date unless it’s a care home or student housing.
What if the Tenant Changes Their Mind?
Imagine a situation where a tenant changes their mind later after you reached an agreement. For example, they propose a new agreement that allows the tenancy to continue. What can you do about that?
Well, if you are comfortable with the new agreement, you can go right ahead and sign it. But in the event you don’t agree with it, meaning you still stand with the previous agreement, you can make an application to the Board requiring them to give you an order to evict the tenant.
However, note that they can make an application to the Board to stop the eviction if they feel they are being treated unfairly.
When Do I Issue a Landlord Notice to End Tenancy In Ontario?
If you plan to discontinue the tenancy due to any of the reasons mentioned in the act, the first thing you are expected to do is issue a landlord notice to terminate the tenancy. Make sure you’ve given it to the tenant before the termination date because the act requires you to do so.
And since each reason requires its own special notice, ensure you’ve used the right form. Fill it out correctly and completely, because the notice can easily be rendered void if all the required information is not present.
What is Done When a Landlord is Breaking a Lease in Ontario?
As a landlord, you will hopefully never be in a situation where your actions break your lease agreement and cause the tenant to become frustrated with the rental situation. This can happen, however, whether intentionally or not, so it is good to be informed about what would happen in this scenario.
Just as landlords are able to involve the Landlord Tenant Board to get help with tenant problems, tenants can do the same when their landlords break the rules. In this case, a tenant would take action with the Board to resolve the issue with you. This could mean terminating the lease agreement or simply having to pay a fee to cover the mistakes made.
Typically, a tenant cannot file this type of complaint or form with the Landlord Tenant Board until they give you written notice of their grievances, but this also depends on the cause for complaint.
To ensure you never end up in this situation, be sure you carefully follow your responsibilities as a landlord. If you find yourself in a difficult tenant disagreement, it can also be a good idea to hire a paralegal for legal advice on how to proceed with as few missteps as possible.
What if the Tenant Refuses to Leave After Receiving the Notice?
Something worth mentioning before we delve into that is if the notice you served your tenant requiring them to stop a certain behavior or to undertake a particular action has been fully complied with, then the notice to end the tenancy is void. You can’t apply to evict them.
However, if they fail to comply by the stated deadline and they’ve refused to leave after the deadline, you have to apply to the Board for the approval to terminate the tenancy.
Other reasons you need to make an application to the Board for approval to end a tenancy include if:
- There’s an unauthorized occupant in the rental unit you want to evict
- You have an agreement to end the tenancy and the tenant breached the terms
- The tenant abandoned the rental property
The board will then make a decision once they’ve held a hearing, in which both of you are given a chance to explain your own side of the story.
Should the board issue an eviction order, you will require the help of a Sheriff to evict the tenant. Reading over the landlord rules in relation to evicting a tenant in Ontario covers the entire process in detail.
FAQs: How a Landlord Can End a Tenancy in Ontario
How Can A Landlord End A Tenancy In Ontario?
There are many reasons you might want to end a tenancy in Ontario. Perhaps a tenant has broken the terms of your lease agreement or has been late paying rent for months; on the flip side, you might want to end a lease agreement because you have decided to renovate the property as soon as possible.
In these cases, what do you do?
Here is the general process you must follow to end a tenancy in Ontario:
- Notice Of Termination
First, you must send the required notice of termination to the tenant. The notice must include details about the when, why, and what is happening with the lease agreement.
- Wait Period
Next, you must wait the required number of days for the tenant to either comply with the termination request or respond to you. The required time period depends on the type of notice and reason for termination of the tenancy agreement.
- File With The Board
Once the allotted number of days has passed as outlined in your notice, you can file with the Landlord and Tenant Board of Ontario for an eviction hearing. The specific form you need to use will depend on the reason for eviction, and there may be an associated fee for filing.
- Attend The Hearing
In cases where a hearing is necessary, you will need to prepare documentation to defend your claims for eviction. The board will determine, either with or without a hearing, what should happen in this situation.
If the case is decided in your favor, the tenant should move out by the required date. If they do not, you can pay a fee and deliver your hearing decision to the local sheriff for assistance in evicting the tenant.
As mentioned, the specific steps that must be taken are going to depend on the type of eviction you are processing. In some cases, no notice will be required to be given to the tenant as their actions would have waived their right to notice. The case would instead immediately proceed to the Board for review.
With so many types of eviction, it can be complicated to know what is going to happen. Many landlords are fearful of eviction situations because of these complexities.
The key to successfully navigating any eviction situation is to proceed carefully, ask questions to the Board when necessary, and make sure you are following the procedures outlined by the Board exactly.
If you do this, you are unlikely to cause yourself any unnecessary delays that would make the eviction take longer than necessary.
How Much Notice Does A Landlord Have To Give A Tenant To Move Out In Ontario?
The amount of time required for a landlord to give a tenant notice is going to depend on the reason for the eviction notice and the rental period of the tenancy agreement.
If the tenant has broken the lease agreement or the basic proponents of the Residential Tenancies Act, the amount of time required on the notice of termination is usually between 10 and 20 days for all types of leases. This is the same if a tenant has not paid rent or has consistently paid rent late.
If the landlord wants to end the lease agreement in order to convert the property, do renovations, or otherwise take over primary control of the space, the notice periods are usually much longer.
For short-term leases like weekly agreements, the required time is 28 days’ notice. For a fixed period, long-term lease, the notice period necessary can range from 30 days to 120 days depending on the particulars of the situation.
To find out what type of notice is likely to be required in your situation, this guide from the LTB can help.
Can A Landlord Ask A Tenant To Move Out When A Lease Expires In Ontario?
Yes; a landlord can ask a tenant to move out when a lease expires in Ontario. However, that request must be done at the right time and handled properly in order to be considered legally valid. To understand what this means, you first have to understand what happens when a lease expires in Ontario.
When a lease is up, it is automatically converted into a month-to-month lease if the rent is typically paid monthly. A new lease agreement is not needed as the original terms still apply to both parties.
In some cases, the landlord and tenant will meet to renew the agreement as a long-term lease agreement or even sign a new lease completely. If not, the lease automatically becomes a month-to-month lease.
If a landlord wants the tenant to move out at the end of the lease period, they need to follow the same rules for giving notice to their tenant as they would for any other no-fault eviction reason. This means that if a landlord wants a tenant to leave when their lease expires, they will need to give them early notice about why and when they are expected to move out according to the laws outlined by the Residential Tenancies Act.
A landlord cannot simply expect a tenant to move out without notice at the end of the original lease unless this was previously agreed upon by both parties.
Can A Landlord Terminate A Month-To-Month Lease In Ontario?
Yes; a landlord can terminate a month-to-month lease in Ontario as long as the reason for lease termination is legal, appropriate, and processed the right way.
The applicable reasons for lease termination do not change based on the time period of the lease agreement; the only thing that may change is the amount of notice that must be given to tenants in order to terminate the tenancy.
For some cases where the lease has been broken, the notice time period does not typically change from one type of lease to another. For situations where the landlord wants to regain primary control of the property, the amount of time required to be given is likely to be lower for month-to-month leases in comparison to year-long agreements. Weekly and daily leases would require even less notice.
Landlords Ending Tenancy In Ontario: The Takeaway
When dealing with difficult tenants, ending a tenancy can easily turn out to be a complex and tiring process, but you can manage it better and easily get back your property by choosing to follow the required procedures on how a landlord can end a tenancy in Ontario, which the Board specifies clearly and in a satisfactory manner.
Now that you have a better understanding of how the termination of lease typically works, it will be more comfortable to navigate that situation if you ever end up needing to evict a tenant.
Is there a way to prevent such a situation from happening in the first place? Absolutely yes.
Besides the ‘no-fault’ reasons, the rest of the reasons why you may want to discontinue a tenancy are mostly a result of the behavior of the tenant, a situation you can easily avoid by enlisting the help of a property management company whose role is to screen tenants and ensure they are not the type who would trigger the need for ending a tenancy.
Want to learn more about how we do property management at Buttonwood?
Check out our simple fee schedule, https://buttonwood.ca/services/residential-property-management/.