Your responsibilities as a tenant
Outside of extraordinary circumstances (please see Rights and obligations), the only legal way to get out of a lease is to sublet or transfer your lease. In certain cases, such as Joint tenancy, there may be restrictions on the right to sublet or transfer the lease.
If you are unable to sublet or assign your apartment, you are still responsible for paying rent for the duration of the lease, even if you are no longer residing in the apartment. The landlord can take legal action against you if you fail to pay the monthly rent until the end of the lease, and you could be held responsible for not only the outstanding rent, but also any legal fees the landlord may have incurred.
|Sublessor||The tenant who sublets to the sub-tenant.|
|Sub-tenant||The person to whom the tenant sublets the dwelling.|
|Assignor||The tenant who is assigning his lease.|
|Assignee||The person to whom the tenant assign the lease.|
Subletting applies when the person who signed the lease intends to vacate the unit for a short period of time and expects to return to it afterwards. Under a sublease, the landlord is not obliged to agree to an extension of the current lease with the sub-tenant.
If the sub-tenant wishes for any reason to file a claim with the Régie du Logement, it must be done by the person that holds the lease and not the sub-lessor.
While the landlord should be notified as to who will be sub-letting the unit, and for how long, it is the person who holds the original lease who should work out the arrangement with the sub-tenant.
- Start by placing an advertisement. You can use the Off Campus Housing Useful Links section for a list of other housing related sites.
- Draft an application form to get the prospective sub-tenant to fill out, in order to do a background check and get a sense of their ability to pay the rent and maintain the dwelling. (You should ask for: their name, present address, reason for living in Montreal (study, work, etc.), and employment information).
- Once you find the right person, send your landlord a notice of sublet.
- You should sign a contract with the sub-tenant -- you can buy a standard lease form and fill it out as if you are the landlord and the person is your tenant, or you can draft your own contract.
Transfer/Assignment of lease
Lease transfer or assignment applies when the person who signs the lease does not intend to return to the apartment. The person hands over all his rights to the new tenant. Lease transfer releases the original tenant from all rights and responsibilities for the apartment, as of the date of the assignment.
When a lease is assigned, the new tenant assumes all the legal rights and responsibilities for the apartment and can take action against the landlord directly.
If you plan to assign the lease at the end of the school year, you will be unable to leave your possessions there during the summer, except by permission of the new tenants. Your rights to the unit are rescinded as soon as the assignment takes place.
- Start by letting the landlord know about your intentions to assign the lease.
- Place an advertisement for a lease transfer. You can use the Off Campus Housing Useful Links section for a list of other housing related sites.
- Once you find the right person, complete the Notice to Assign Your Lease
- The landlord has 15 days to give you an answer and can only refuse with a valid reason. Legally, a landlord may only refuse to give consent to a lease assignment for a serious reason (e.g. the new tenant will be unable to pay the rent). The reason for refusal must be communicated to the tenant within 15 days of receipt of the notice to sublet or assign.
- The Assignment of Lease Agreement is between you and the new tenant and you must give the new tenant a copy of your lease along with the Agreement of lease assignment.
Information on email scams
In your search for a sub-letter, beware of email sublet scams! Always trust your instincts if something seems too good to be true. While the details of any scam can vary, many scams in recent years have shared the following characteristics:
- The interested "sub-letter" responds very quickly to your ad.
- He doesn't ask to see pictures, nor does he ask any questions about move-in dates -- he seems extremely accommodating.
- He will offer money right away in the form of a (fraudulent) MONEY ORDER, MONEYGRAM, or BANK DRAFT, but will send more than the required amount.
- The bank will hold the money order (or other form of payment) for 5 days, but the sub-letter will pressure you to wire-transfer the balance in the meantime. He might claim they accidentally overpaid and that they urgently need you to return the extra amount. Common reasons are “my boss owes me money,” or “I need it for my plane ticket to Montreal.” DO NOT give them any money out of your own pocket.
Report any email scams to McGill’s ICS Service Desk through their website, where you can also search “Student housing fraud” in their Knowledge Database for more information on email scams.
Download the PDF:Assignment of Lease Agreement
Download the PDF:Notice to assign the lease
Download the PDF:Notice to sublet the dwelling
“Breaking” the lease… with no damage done
Contrary to popular belief, a tenant may not “break his lease” with a 3 month notice at any time during the lease and for any reason.
In fact there are only 4 specific situations where the lease can be cancelled during its term:
- a tenant is allocated a dwelling in low-rental housing;
- a tenant can no longer occupy his dwelling because of a handicap;
- an elderly person is admitted permanently to a residential and long-term care centre or to private seniors' residence;
- because of the violent behaviour of a spouse or former spouse or because of a sexual aggression, even by a third party, the safety of the lessee or of a child living with the lessee is threatened.
Other reasons: purchase of a house, divorce, disagreements between co-tenants, setting up a new household, the need for a larger dwelling, financial problems, moving for employment reasons, etc., do not allow a tenant to force the landlord to cancel the lease.
The tenant can always try to come to an agreement with the landlord for the cancellation of the lease, preferably in writing.
If there is no agreement, the tenant has 2 choices: to assign his lease or sublet the dwelling to another person.
Before going any further you should be aware that you cannot assign your lease or sublet if:
- you are a student renting a dwelling in an educational institution;
- you are a tenant in low-rental housing;
- you are the tenant of a dwelling which is used as the family residence and you or your spouse (married person only) have notified the landlord of this, unless your spouse has given written consent to the assignment or sublet.
Note: In certain cases (such as joint tenancy) there may be restrictions on the right to assign or sublet. Ask for information at the Régie.
Assignment or subletting: What’s the difference?
If you are a tenant who wants to leave a dwelling, the first question to ask yourself is whether you may want to return to the dwelling.
If you are leaving temporarily for a trip, studies or a job for a few months and you wish to avoid paying rent for a dwelling that you are not living in, then subletting would be a good solution. You are still the tenant with all of your rights and obligations intact.
If, on the other hand, you are moving into a new house or to a job in another city, you would no doubt prefer to be released from your lease and its obligations. In this case, it would be best to assign your lease: you renounce to your right to return to the dwelling.
Assignment and subletting: Similarities
Here are the formalities that are identical in both situations:
- the assignor is the tenant who is assigning his lease, i.e., the person who is leaving the dwelling;
- the assignee is the person to whom the tenant assigns his lease, i.e., the one who will live in the dwelling;
- the sublessor is the tenant who sublets, i.e., the person who is leaving the dwelling;
- the subtenant is the person to whom the tenant sublets the dwelling, i.e., the one who will be living there.
Notice of assignment or sublet
You have found someone who is interested in your dwelling, as an assignee or a subtenant. Sign a written agreement right away (assignment of lease agreement or a sublet lease) which will be conditional on the landlord granting consent. Concluding the agreement will be explained later on.
Next, advise the landlord, in writing, of the name and address of the interested person: this information must be given. Needless to say you may also provide the landlord with further information as long as you have the consent of your candidate.
The notice should also include the projected date for the assignment or the sublet. We suggest that you use the models of these notices, which are available at the Régie.
Make sure that you can prove the date that the landlord received the notice because he has 15 days from this date to let you know whether he accepts or refuses the person you have proposed. If he does not reply, he is presumed to have accepted.
If he agrees, the landlord has the right to be reimbursed for reasonable related expenses (for example, the cost of a credit search).
Refusal of assignment or sublet
If the landlord refuses the person you have proposed, he must inform you and give you the reasons which must be serious.
For example, unacceptable behaviour by the person or his inability to pay could be serious justification for refusal.
So it is a good idea for you to do a complete reference check before proposing your candidate.
Recourse in the case of refusal
If the landlord gives reasons which do not seem serious, you can ask the Régie to assess these reasons or to cancel your lease.
If the Régie determines that the landlord’s refusal is unjustified, it can declare valid the assignment or the sublet. The landlord may have to pay damages if his refusal has caused you a prejudice.
When you come to the hearing, bring along all the documents necessary for your proof. Make sure that the proposed assignee or subtenant is present by designating him as a witness: his presence is essential.
Assigning and subletting: Differences
Assignment and its effects
On the assigning tenant
You hand over all your rights, including the right to maintain occupancy, to the assignee. You are freed from all obligations as of the date of the assignment. Therefore, you do not have to send a notice of non-renewal of the lease.
On the assignee
The assignee is not a new tenant in the eyes of the law. Therefore, he does not have the right to ask the Régie to set the rent. However, on becoming a tenant, he acquires all the rights and obligations of the lease. As he is bound by all of the conditions of the assigned lease he should obtain a copy of it from the assigning tenant.
On the landlord
Once the assignment takes effect, the landlord is bound to the assignee. It is to the assignee that all notices concerning the lease must be given and from him that the rent must be collected. The landlord does not sign a new lease with the assignee.
The assignee takes the dwelling in the condition in which he finds it or that it was in when he visited it.
Subletting and its effects
On the tenant (sublessor)
As the tenant who sublets the dwelling, you remain entirely responsible for all the obligations of the lease.
Before the sublease is concluded you must give the subtenant a copy of the building regulations, where applicable. The sublease must indicate all the main obligations that you have toward the landlord (e.g., snow removal) or refer to the obligations.
In this last case you must give the subtenant a copy of the main lease.
As a sublessor, you are obliged to:
- deliver the dwelling in good habitable and clean condition, and in good state of maintenance and repair in all respects;
- ensure the peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
For example, if necessary repairs are not completed, the subtenant could take recourse against you, the sublessor. You would then have to oblige the landlord to respect his obligations toward you.
ATTENTION: You are still responsible for the lease. To avoid its renewal, you must give the landlord a notice of non-renewal within the appropriate time frame.
However, if the dwelling has been sublet for more than 12 months (whether consecutive or not), the landlord may put an end to the sublet. Ask the Régie for further information.
On the subtenant
The subtenant is bound by the terms of the lease he signed with you but he does not have the right of occupancy since you maintain the right to reclaim the dwelling at the end of the sublet.
You also retain the right to end your lease in the manner and time period set out in the law.
If you do not renew the lease and if the subtenant wishes to remain in the dwelling, he should try to sign a new lease with the landlord.
NOTE: The subtenant is not obliged to leave the premises unless he has received a 10-day notice to vacate from the tenant or the landlord. Ask the Régie for information on this subject.
In addition, as a new tenant in relation to you, the sublessor, the subtenant has the right to ask the Régie to fix the rent if the rent he is paying is higher than either the lowest rent paid during the 12 months before the sublet or the rent fixed by the Régie.
Therefore, according to the law, you must give him the “Notice to new tenant” at the conclusion of the lease (Section G of the lease).
On the other hand, if the landlord does not carry out his obligations, the subtenant can exercise the rights and recourses of the tenant to force the landlord to take action.
On the landlord
The landlord retains all of his rights and obligations toward the tenant who has sublet.
If the subtenant, by neglecting his obligations causes serious prejudice to the landlord, other tenants or occupants, the landlord can ask for the cancellation of the tenant’s lease or of the sublet since this recourse is specified in the law.
Concluding a lease agreement: Here’s how
The Régie du logement recommends that you use the very simple conditional agreement model which it supplies entitled Assignment of Lease Agreement and that you complete it before sending the notice of assignment to the landlord.
Before signing the agreement, give the assignee all the relevant information in your possession and let him know if you have received a notice from the landlord such as a notice of rent increase.
Concluding a sublet lease: Here’s how
First, obtain the mandatory lease form of the Régie du logement. In the box for identifying the parties, cross off the words “tenant” and “landlord” and replace them with “subtenant” and “sublandlord” respectively. Of course, the contract is conditional on the landlord’s acceptance of the sublet.
Certain conditions of the sublease may be different from those of the main lease but they must not come into contradiction with the main lease so as to give the subtenant more rights than the tenant already has. For instance, if it is forbidden in the tenant’s lease to keep an animal, the subtenant cannot keep one. On the other hand, if an animal is allowed according to the main lease, the sublease can forbid it. It would be the same for a parking space and so forth.