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  • Writer's pictureJared Davies, Lawyer

Leaving a residential lease agreement because of domestic abuse

In an earlier post, I discussed the considerations that an individual must think about in trying to obtain exclusive possession of the matrimonial home. One of the relevant considerations is family violence. Victims also implicitly have the legal freedom to leave the matrimonial home and still collect their financial interest after, through court proceedings. However, other considerations ought to be considered when the parties do not own their home together. For instance, what if a tenant wants to leave the home because of domestic violence, but they are under a fixed lease?

The standard notice requirements in the Residential Tenancies Act stipulate that a tenant must provide notice of at least 60 days before the expiry of the lease term, or 60 days’ notice if there is no term, and of course pay the remainder of the term if applicable. Notwithstanding, victims of domestic abuse may terminate their interest in a sole or joint lease if they provide at least 28 days’ notice.


Under normal rules, if a person had a one-year lease, they would be responsible for rent payments until the end of the lease or otherwise agreed to. But under domestic violence considerations, that same party, a victim of domestic violence, would be able to terminate the lease at any time with 28 days’ notice and not be responsible for the remainder of the lease. The Residential Tenancies Act states:


47.1 (1) Despite subsections 44 (2) to (4) and section 47, a tenant may terminate a monthly or yearly tenancy or a tenancy for a fixed term by giving notice of termination to the landlord in accordance with this section if,


(a) the tenant is deemed under subsection 47.3 (1) to have experienced violence or another form of abuse;


(b) a child residing with the tenant is deemed under subsection 47.3 (1) to have experienced violence or another form of abuse.


47.2 (1) A joint tenant may terminate his or her interest in a monthly or yearly tenancy or in a tenancy for a fixed term by giving notice of termination to the landlord in accordance with this section if,


(a) the tenant is deemed under subsection 47.3 (1) to have experienced violence or another form of abuse;


(b) a child residing with the tenant is deemed under subsection 47.3 (1) to have experienced violence or another form of abuse.


For these provisions to apply, the tenant must be deemed to have experienced violence or another form of abuse pursuant to the legislation. The RTA provides guidance in this regard in section 47.3.


Obvious takeaways? Under Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, the Ontario government has implemented measures to try and assist victims of domestic violence.



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