When a tenant signs a lease, they usually intend to stay in the unit until the lease ends. Nonetheless, life is unpredictable, and a tenant may decide that their best course of action is getting out of a lease.
If this happens, you may have a variety of questions, such as:
- Can leases be broken?
- Can a tenant end a lease early?
- What can a landlord do if a tenant breaks lease?
Common reasons for getting out of a lease in Winnipeg include:
- If the unit becomes unbearable to live in once a service has been withdrawn
- If the landlord increases the rent above the guideline
- In case the Branch approves the landlord’s application to make major improvements to the property
- In case the tenant becomes unable to pay rent because of their health deteriorating.
In today’s article, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about Manitoba tenancy agreements, specifically regarding breaking a lease in Winnipeg.
What is a lease agreement?
A lease agreement, also known as a Manitoba rental agreement or a Manitoba tenancy agreement, is a contractual agreement between a landlord and a tenant. It sets out both parties’ rights and responsibilities. It can be in writing, oral or even implied and should comply with Manitoba landlord and tenant laws.
Two types of Manitoba tenancy agreements exist in Winnipeg: a periodic tenancy and a fixed-term tenancy. A periodic tenancy is short-term, and usually runs either week-to-week or month-month. The payment period starts on the day rent becomes due, and ends the day when rent is next due.
A fixed-term agreement, on the other hand, is long-term. It usually runs an entire year. The tenant cannot break it unless they assign or sublet the unit.
Special circumstances, however, do exist, which may allow a tenant to break their lease early.
What reasons can allow a tenant to break a fixed-term lease?
Reason #1: The landlord withdraws an important service.
Suppose you provide an elevator as a service. If you stop providing that service and there is a tenant that can’t use the stairs, the tenant may be able to break the lease. The tenant may apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch, Winnipeg, citing the unit’s uninhabitability.
Reason #2: Tenant is a member of the Canadian Forces.
A tenant may also be able to break a lease early if they have received change of station orders. Specifically, the new location should be at least 50 kilometers away from the rental unit.
If the tenant receives the notice of the posting at least 3 months beforehand, they must give you a notice of 3 rental payment periods. And if the notice is less than 3 months, then they can give you a notice of just 1 rental payment period.
To confirm the orders, you can request the tenant to serve you the official copies.
Reason #3: Tenant is unable to live independently.
Has the tenant become unable to live on their own? Or have they been accepted into a personal care home? In either case, the Tenancy Board, Winnipeg will allow the tenant to break their lease early.
In any case, the tenant is required to serve the landlord with a notice of lease termination of at least one rental payment period.
Being a landlord in Manitoba, you can require the tenant to provide you some form of proof. For example, a copy from their doctor confirming that they can no longer live on their own.
Reason #4: Tenant’s health is deteriorating.
A Winnipeg tenant may also be able to break a lease early if their health starts to deteriorate. This is especially true if the health issue is somewhat permanent.
In this case, the tenant would need to serve you a termination notice of at least 1 rental payment period. Also, the tenant must give you copies from a doctor confirming their changing health status.
Reason #5: Tenant is a victim of domestic violence or stalking.
If a tenant fears for their safety or that of their children, they may be able to end their tenancy early. According to the Residential Tenancies Act Manitoba, and renters rights Manitoba, the tenant must serve the landlord a termination notice of at least one rental payment period.
Additionally, the tenant must provide the landlord with proof confirming that indeed their safety is on the line. The designated authority tasked with the responsibility of confirming such a ground for lease termination is the Victim Services of Manitoba Justice.
Reason #6: Tenant is unable to pay rent (due to health issues).
If a tenant can no longer afford rent due to health issues, they must serve the landlord with at least a one rental payment notice to move out. What’s more, they must also provide a certificate from the doctor confirming their health is deteriorating.
Reason #7: You are looking to make significant improvements to the property.
If you are planning to make significant changes to the rental unit, you must make an application to the Tenancy Branch Winnipeg location to be temporarily exempted from the yearly rent increase guideline.
By doing so, you’ll be granting the tenant a right to end their agreement with a notice of at least 2 rental payment periods.
Reason #8: You’re looking to hike the rent above the guideline.
If your application to raise rent has been approved by the Residential Tenancies Winnipeg Branch, your tenant can break their fixed-term lease. They can do so by serving you a termination notice of at least 2 repayment periods.
The tenant can serve you the notice of termination at any time from the date they received notice of your intention to apply for rent hike, up until fourteen days after receiving the RTB’S decision on your application.
Reason #9: Failure by the landlord to perform crucial responsibilities.
According to the Residential Tenancies Act Manitoba, a landlord is responsible for maintaining a rental premises in a habitable state. In other words, a landlord must provide a unit that complies with all Winnipeg safety, health and building codes.
Failure to do so can result in your tenant serving you a termination notice of at least one rental payment period. Prior to that, however, the tenant must provide you a written notice on the maintenance issue. They must also allow you reasonable time to carry out the repairs.
In addition to breaking the lease, the tenant may also report you to the local authorities, like the RTB Winnipeg, for further action.
Still have a question that you felt was left unanswered? If so, Pillar Property Management can help. Pillar Property Management is a proven and trusted property management company that has been operating in Winnipeg since 2005.
Disclaimer: This guide is only meant to offer a simplified explanation of some key aspects of renting in Winnipeg. For further reading, please check the Residential Tenancies Branch’s page here.