I need to understand if i can leave my tenancy early without being penalized. I am just seeking information first. 10

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Customer: I need to understand if i can leave my tenancy early without being penalized
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: No, I am just seeking information first
JA: Where is the property located?
Customer: ***** Scarborough, ON, M1C 4V1
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: My agreement has a section called 'Assignment and Subletting' - they crossed out the section and put their initials on it
Answered by LawyerGreg in 6 mins 1 year ago
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LawyerGreg
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LawyerGreg
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Hello, my name is ***** ***** JustAnswer. Thank you for reaching out. I will be working with you on answering your question today, and I am looking forward to finding the answers for you! Please note that I am working from my computer, and responding as quickly as I can to the questions you ask. If I don’t hear back from you for a little bit, I may not be online when you respond! Rest assured I will not abandon you, and I will do everything I can to answer your question.

I understand that JustAnswer automatically generates an offer to have you call me for an additional fee; that offer is not coming from me, though it looks like it is. If you want to have a call, I’m happy to do so, but generally I help my clients via text exclusively.

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LawyerGreg, Expert

Are you able to upload a copy of your lease?

Customer
oh gosh umm, i have it on my personal email...let me find it first!
Customer
Could you hold on for 5 minutes ?
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Of course :)

Customer
File attached (LTPTL5M)
Customer
There we go
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Thank you! Bear with me as I review.

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LawyerGreg, Expert

OK. It sounds like, based on the notes on the lease, you agreed to not sublet or assign the lease, so no luck getting out of the lease that way.

You could serve your landlord an N9 form, Tenant’s Notice to Terminate the Tenancy. It must be served with at least 30 days notice, and the rest is fairly self explanatory on the form itself. Because they've already said that you cannot sublet the apartment, you don't have to first seek permission to sublet.

Lastly, you can apply to the Landlord Tenancy Board to end your lease early, but barring exceptional circumstances, they don't like to do that.

Does that help?

Customer
Yeah but they're not allowed to cross out things on a standard contract
Customer
Is that right ?
Customer
Isn't it illegal to do that ? lol
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LawyerGreg, Expert

It is not illegal to do so, if both parties agree to the change, which based on the notes on the lease, it sounds like you did at the time of leasing.

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LawyerGreg, Expert

If they had crossed it out, hidden it, and never discussed it, and brushed it off when you looked at the lease or attempted to keep the fact that they did secret, that's another story.

Customer
The change wasn't discussed and they are expecting me to find someone to assign the room to
Customer
if they've agreed that i can' assign the room, then doesn't that mean i can give them 30 days notice ?
Customer
You can't bind me to one thing in a contract and then say another thing verbally lol
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LawyerGreg, Expert

They cannot expect you to find someone to assign the room to, if they've already crossed it out in the initial contract. You can serve the N9 upon them.

Customer
Yeah...
Customer
Is there any kind of written info i can give them about this ?
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LawyerGreg, Expert

If you are still concerned and want to make sure the LTB would be on your side, you can contact them at 1-***-***-**** and explain the situation, to see if they would be on your side or if they would take the Landlord's side.

If you take a look at the N9 form, you'll see the information on there is fairly self-explanatory, and your landlord should understand it. If they disagree, they can take the issue before the LTB themselves.

Customer
Can i also just check that if they've crossed it out and it wasn't discussed and i agreed to it (by signing) that i'm not responsible to find another tenant and that I am not responsible for 3 months worth of rent to give to them ?
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LawyerGreg, Expert

If they crossed it out, and you agreed to the term, they cannot later change the term without your consent. How are they claiming that you are responsible for 3 months worth of rent?

Customer
i called the LTB and they just told me that it's illegal for them to cross anything out on an agreement but you tell me otherwise that it is 'agreed' after i've signed it...
Customer
Well because my lease is fixed term
Customer
from oct 1st, 2020- aug 31st 2021
Customer
but i want to leave by end of May
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Hah! Of course they did.

From a legal perspective, if there are amendments to a contract, and then the contract is signed by both parties, aware of the amendments, it is considered to be a binding legal contract. It is very odd to me that the LTB would consider that not to be the case.

I see. If you simply break the lease and leave, then yes, you owe them that period. The N9 would allow you to avoid that.

Customer
ok, so the N9 is my 'get out of Jail' card lol
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Not only your get out of jail, but your 'serve it yesterday so you can move out without penalties' card! It is your answer to this entire situation.

Customer
I see ... ok, i guess people see it differently too
Customer
couldn't a lawyer on their side look at this and be like...'well you crossed that section out so that means that person HAS to pay you if they leave early'
Customer
or that they're locked in to the contract so they have to stay until the end of their lease
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LawyerGreg, Expert

https://tribunalsontario.ca/documents/ltb/Notices%20of%20Termination%20&%20Instructions/N9.pdf

There's the form. Lastly, if the LTB takes the position that the contract being altered makes it illegal, that would mean you are not bound by the agreement, and you fall under the exception of ending the tenancy before end of term.

That would be super illegal. It is a right to have the option to assign or sublet; agreeing to remove that option is fine, but it just means that you can serve the N9 either because the lease is illegal, or because at the time of signing, your landlord refused you the option of leasing or subletting.

The chances of this going to a lawyer on their side is slim.

Customer
i think i see what you mean. So basically, I am not bound by the agreement if the LTB see's this document as illegal, right ?
Customer
because sections have been crossed out.
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LawyerGreg, Expert

That's correct. And the N9 will get you out the lease.

Customer
Wow, who knew!
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Not a lot of people! Which is why probably 50% of my time is spent answering questions about Ontario tenancy issues :)

Customer
th next time she tries to shout at me on the phone about finding someone to take over my lease lol
Customer
i can just say...'this document is illegal, as per my conversation with the landlord and tenants board'....
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LawyerGreg, Expert

You could. Or you could just serve them the N9 and explain that you're following the procedures of the LTB. It's less confrontational!

Customer
can i just check that, crossing out one section of a contract makes the entire agreement illegal (according to the LTB of course lol ) ?
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Yup. It becomes a modified standard lease, which according to the LTB, is like not having a lease at all. A court might see the situation otherwise, but the chances of this issue seeing the inside of a courtroom are like a needle in a haystack.

Customer
Oh really, so in some instances it doesn't make the document illegal ? (or that's like, subjective to other people in the court room or whatever)
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Well like I said, if the change was made and both parties agreed to the change and were made aware of the change, then the courts and the law generally like to hold it as a valid contract. The LTB sees this issue somewhat differently, which is fine, because they are, except in exceptional circumstances, the body that deals with tenancy issues, so the body that is going to be dealing with your issue.

Customer
Either way...I can leave without having to find someone else right ? lol
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Yes. Follow the N9 process :)

Customer
whether it's stated by the LTB or the court ....one believes it is illegal and the the other believes it is legally binding (which still doesn't hold me responsible for finding someone) ? lol
Customer
Oh, Happy Day!
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LawyerGreg, Expert

The LTB considers the entire agreement illegal, meaning you can serve the N9 and work on moving out ASAP.

The Court would consider the changed part to be part of the binding agreement, binding you to not find anyone to sublet because they explicitly disallowed that option. Meaning that you can't find someone to take over even if you want to, which means you have to either follow the normal processes to leave at the end of term, or utilize the forms at your disposal via the LTB (the N9 in this instance.)

Customer
God, this is annoying because i contacted 'Scarborough Community Legal Services' (Legal aid) and the lady i spoke to said that the LTB doesn't care for things that are crossed out or whatever and that what's important is that I have a fixed lease agreement. She basically said that they wouldn't care so much about my LL's crossing out anything because it's still an agreement which means I still have to find someone or whatever -_-
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Yup there's usually conflicting information from multiple sources on issues like this. The issue rarely ends up in front of a judge, so there aren't fully considered and complete reasonings from the court, and then individuals at the LTB take different approaches and decisions... it's tough. The Landlord Tenancy situation is complicated in Ontario, and most other jurisdictions. But if the information you've received directly from the LTB when talking to them says that they would consider it an illegal agreement, then use that information.

Customer
Can I not get something in writing from someone about this
Customer
Like an email ?
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LawyerGreg, Expert

The closest thing you're going to get to 'in writing' is the N9. The LTB likely won't send an email stating it, though you could ask them.

Customer
the N9 requires the LTB input ?
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Have you read the N9 form yet? That would likely answer some of your questions. But no. Your landlord can choose to contest the N9 if they want to before the LTB, but that would be months down the road.

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LawyerGreg, Expert

The LTB is incredibly backed up right now due to COVID and more Landlord and Tenant issues coming up.

Customer
Yeah.... my friend said that
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LawyerGreg, Expert

Your friend is correct. They're aware of it, but they don't have a good solution to it yet.

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