As a general rule, you can’t cancel your lease before the date stated in the lease. But the law makes an exception in some cases of special needs.
You’re allowed to cancel your lease in these specific situations:
- You are moving to low-rent housing.
- You are elderly and are moving to
- a long-term care centre (CHSLD),
- an intermediate resource (supervised apartment or publicly regulated retirement home providing assisted living), or
- a private seniors’ residence that offers nursing care or personal assistance that you need because of your state of health.
- You have a disability that prevents you from continuing to live in your apartment.
But you must take some steps to cancel your lease legally.
Three Steps to Cancel Your Lease Legally
1- Send your landlord a written notice saying that you want to cancel your lease.
Send the notice by registered mail so you’ll have proof that you sent it. Make sure you date and sign the notice and keep a copy.
The notice should say
- you want to leave your apartment,
- the reason you want to leave and
- the date you plan to leave and the date your lease ends.
You can find sample notices for your situation on the website of the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL, formerly Régie du logement or rental board).
To be legal, the notice should meet the following conditions:
- It must be sent to your landlord at the address stated in the lease.
- It must be sent while your lease still is in force.
- It must be written in the same language as your lease.
- It must be sent within the following time
- at least two months before you want to leave if your lease is for one year or more, or
- at least one month before you want to leave if your lease is for less than one year or if there is no time period in your lease.
The time limit starts to count on the day you send the notice and not on the day your landlord receives it.
Important! If your notice does not meet these conditions, it’s as though you never sent the notice. Your landlord can ignore it and force you to pay rent until the end of your lease.
If you give your landlord a verbal notice, you can ask the TAL to say it is legal. You will have to prove that your landlord didn’t suffer because your notice was verbal. For example, you can prove that your landlord rented your apartment after your verbal notice and didn’t lose any rent.
2- Include a written document with your notice that shows you need to move.
Don’t forget to keep a copy.
The document should be from someone qualified to say you need to move. For example, a letter from the Office municipal de l’habitation de Montréal confirming your move to low-rent housing.
If you’re elderly and want to move to seniors’ housing that offers nursing care or personal assistance that you need because of your state of health, such as
you must include the following documents with your notice:
3- Pay your rent until the end of your notice period, that is,
- two months if your lease is for one year or more, or
- one month if your lease is for less than one year or if there is no time period in your lease.
If your rent includes nursing care or personal assistance, you only pay for the care or services you received before you leave. For example, you live in a private seniors’ residence where your meals were provided and you leave the residence to move to a long-term care centre (CHSLD) before your lease ends. You don’t have to pay rent for the rest of the period of your lease. And you only have to pay for the meals you had at the residence.
Reaching an Agreement With Your Landlord
You can also cancel your lease legally by reaching an agreement with your landlord to cancel the lease.
Make sure to put the agreement in writing and have your landlord sign it. The agreement should state the following things:
- your landlord agrees to end the lease
- the new date when the lease will end
- any other information you think is important