A lease agreement is a legally binding agreement that runs for a specific period of time, usually one year. Typically, a tenant who signs one agrees to abide by all its terms until it ends.
Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Life happens and your Regina tenant may decide to end the tenancy early and vacate the unit. The tenant may, for instance, break up with their partner and decide to move out. It’s also possible that the tenant may lose their job and become unable to continue paying rent.
The reasons a tenants may have to end the tenancy can be many and diverse!
Breaking a tenancy is akin to breaking a legal contract. Depending on the reason for ending tenancy, the tenant may be legally or financially viable.
As a landlord in Regina, Saskatchewan, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with Saskatchewan eviction laws as part of Saskatchewan's landlord and tenant laws. Among other things, this can help you solve many legal issues without requiring a lawyer.
This article is going to cover everything you need to know about a tenant breaking a lease in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Tenant Rights Saskatchewan
A Regina tenant has certain rights under a rental contract, as per Saskatchewan tenancy laws. These rights may be written or implicit and infringing upon these rights can result in answering to the office of residential tenancies, according to the Residential Tenancies Act.
To begin with, a tenant has a right to remain in the property until the expiry of the tenancy. The only exception to this is if they violate the terms of the agreement. And even then, only the Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) can evict a tenant from the rental premises.
A landlord is obligated to provide their Regina tenant with a habitable property. If a landlord fails in this regard, the tenant may break their lease without further obligations to the lease agreement.
Types of Lease Agreements in Regina, Saskatchewan
There are three types of tenancy agreements: month-to-month, weekly, and fixed term lease.
When writing a residential tenancy agreement, Saskatchewan law dictates that the type of tenancy agreement should be clearly stated, as it’s a legally binding document. If the document isn’t clear, a tenant may misinterpret it and the law will enforce it. So, when drafting, make sure the document doesn’t have any ambiguity.
But how can a tenant end the tenancy? Well, in a periodic tenancy, a tenant must serve the landlord a minimum of one month’s notice to vacate in a month-to-month agreement. Similarly, the tenant must serve a week’s notice in a week-to-week tenancy.
When it comes to ending a fixed-term lease agreement, the tenant is responsible for the duration of the tenancy term. And they cannot break the lease without seeking permission from the landlord, neither can they sublet the property without the landlord's approval. If a tenant refuses to pay for the rental unit for the duration of the lease, a landlord may begin eviction proceedings for non-payment of rent.
What are some Examples of Legal Reasons for a Tenant to End the Tenancy Early?
The landlord has seriously breached the terms of the rental agreement.
Regina landlords have certain responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).
a) One such responsibility is ensuring that their tenants live in habitable rental premises. And that may mean:
- Adhering to all health and safety codes.
- Performing repairs in the rental unit within a reasonable time frame.
- Keeping the common areas clean.
- Providing proper trash receptacles.
- Ensuring tenants always have access to adequate running water.
If a landlord fails to do any of these, the Regina tenant may have several options, including ending their tenancy early. In such a case, the tenant must complete the Form 6 - Notice to Landlord to Terminate the Tenancy and deliver it to the landlord.
b) Another serious breach involves tenant discrimination. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code prohibits all forms of rental discrimination. The code makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against their tenants on the basis of a protected characteristics.
Protected characteristics include creed, religion, sex, familial status, marital status, color, age, disability, sexual orientation, and national place of origin. Others include race, gender identity or being in receipt of public assistance.
c) A landlord may also breach the rental agreement by failing to notify their tenants before accessing their units. This is especially true if it occurs repeatedly.
All tenants in Saskatchewan have a right to privacy. As such, before accessing their units, the landlord must notify them first. The entry notice, as per the RTA, must state three crucial things.
One, the notice to vacate must state the purpose of the entry into the rental unit. Common reasons include, to:
- Inspect the unit.
- Show the unit to prospective tenants, lenders or buyers.
- Under a court order.
- Respond to an emergency.
- Respond to a repair request.
Two, the notice must state the time of entry. According to the RTA, the time of entry must fall between 8.00AM and 8.00PM. Also, you’ll have a maximum of four hours to access the property at any one time.
And lastly, the notice must state the date of the expected entry. The day must not be a Sunday or any other day of religious worship for the tenant.
The tenant is a victim of interpersonal violence.
In a fixed-term tenancy agreement, a tenant may also be able to break the lease if they or their child is a victim of interpersonal violence.
A professional person statement must indicate the person who is subject to interpersonal violence. The form can be completed by a police officer, a member of the RCMP, a registered psychiatric nurse, a psychologist or a social worker.
If the Victims Services Branch is satisfied with the application, it’ll provide the tenant with a Certificate Confirming Safety Risk. The tenant will then provide you a copy of the certificate, as well as the notice to move out.
Breaking a lease in Regina is an act that often involves consequences for the tenants. However, there are legally justified exceptions. Should these reasons occur, it is your legal obligation as a landlord to allow your tenants to break their lease.
Disclaimer: The information herein is informational and not a substitute for professional legal advice. If you need further help, please consult an experienced property management company in Regina, such as Cressman Realty & Property Management.