A lessee is responsible for paying the lease (rent) amount until the lease agreement’s validity. But at times, tenants want to move out of the agreement before the lease ends.

Generally, the most probable option they have is subletting or assigning the unit to a new tenant who will be paying the lease amount for the remaining period. But transferring or ‘assigning’ your lease to someone else or adding someone to the lease agreement requires the landlord’s consent. However, they can’t refuse lease transfer consent if the leaseholder meets certain conditions.

Read on to learn the answer to the question — “Can a landlord refuse a lease transfer to a lessee in Canada?”.

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What does transferring the lease to a new tenant mean?

If a lessee wants to leave all the rights of holding property on the lease before the expiry of the agreement and doesn’t plan to return, they can transfer the same to another individual, who’ll become the new tenant.

In simple words, lease transfer means giving away the tenant’s obligations and rights to another individual who will act as the new tenant. According to the actual lease terms, they will be liable for paying the rent or lease amount paid by the original tenant.

Before assigning a lease, the tenant must place a written request with the landlord for their approval. The landlord can’t refuse to give consent without a valid reason. For example, suppose the landlord doesn’t reply or refuses to reply to the request within a week. Then, if the tenant intends to end the lease and move out of the property, they can do so within 30 days from the transfer request notice to the property owner.

You can fax, mail or hand the notice over to the property owner in person. Alternatively, you may give the notice to the agent (could be the superintendent or any individual) managing the property of the landlord.

Note – If you consider emailing the notice, do so five days earlier (from the day when notice is given to the landlord).

If you want to transfer the agreement to a new renter, you’ll be responsible for advertising and finding a trustworthy new renter. But again, written consent of the landlord is required before going ahead with the advertisement and completing the transfer process.

Exceptions for lease transfers

A lessee can’t transfer the lease if:

  • Housing or property is provided by an educational institution where you are a student or work.
  • It’s low-rent housing.
  • The rental unit is used as the family’s main residence, and your partner or spouse refuses to transfer or sublet the lease.

Refusal of consent by the landlord due to discrimination based on a personal characteristic

Discriminating against a person (wanting to be on the lease transfer agreement) because of their lawfully protected personal characteristic and refusing to give lease transfer consent for the same reason is unreasonable and unlawful.

In such cases, you (the tenant) may head to your province’s Human Rights Tribunal for the remedies. Besides, if you also consider applying with the Landlord and Tenant Board, you may ask the tribunal and the board to hear the two cases together. Plus, the person you wanted to transfer the lease to may also apply to the tribunal.

Legal actions for lease transfer problems

The tenant or lessee can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board in case the property owner:

  • Doesn’t provide consent for lease transfer on unreasonable grounds
  • Agrees to assign or sublet but rejects the new (potential) tenants suggested by you without any proper reason
  • Discriminates against the individual you want to transfer the lease based on their race, colour, religion, marital status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.
  • Charges an assignment or lease transfer fee, which is more than the amount they had spent on credit checks, advertising, and other things involved in the transfer process

The board may order the property owner to let you transfer the lease and return the amount to the tenant charged unfairly. The board may also end the tenancy and allow the tenant to move out of the agreement without owing any lease charges.

Lease transfer without the permission of the landlord

If the lessee assigns or sublets the unit without the landlord’s written consent, the transfer will be illegal and unauthorized. In such cases, the landlord holds the right to file an eviction request (for both unauthorized occupant and tenant) with the board. The application should be filed within 60 days of the unauthorized lease transfer.

Steps to transferring a lease

  1. Start with finding a reliable person who is willing to take over the lease.
  2. Next, take permission for lease transfer and get the potential tenant approved by your landlord. You are required to send the transfer notice to your property owner once you have selected your potential tenant. The notice should include the projected transfer date along with the address and name of the new (potential) tenant.
  3. The property owner has 15 days (from receiving the notice) to give their reply. After that, they can’t refuse lease transfers unless they have a valid reason for the same. Regardless, the landlord can deny the transfer if the proposed tenant has problematic behaviour or cannot pay the lease amount.
  4. If the landlord fails to respond to the notice within the mentioned period, the transfer will be automatically considered lawful.
  5. Ensure the notice is mailed to the landlord’s address mentioned on the lease agreement and in the same language used in the lease (English or French).
  6. Fill out the transfer papers and submit them to the landlord along with the required documents. Pay lease transfer charges to the landlord or dealership.

Endnote

A landlord can cancel the lease transfer if any serious inconvenience is caused to the landlord or other tenants by the subtenant or any of the occupants relating to them. The landlord may also consider the cancellation in cases where rent is paid late. In situations like these, the property owner may also request compensation for the inconvenience caused, along with lease cancellation.

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