January 16, 2024

Lease assignment or sublease?

As a tenant, you have the right to leave your apartment before the end of your lease. There are three options available to you in such a situation: lease termination, lease assignment and sublease. Read this article to learn about your responsibilities in these situations that require an agreement with the landlord or authorization from the Tribunal administratif du logement.

Termination of a lease

In most cases, the term “breaking a lease” refers to the termination of a lease, i.e., the ending of a lease. The term “expiration of a lease” is incorrect in this context.

This agreement must be entered into with the landlord’s consent, or only in one of the following cases:[1]

  1. A situation of spousal or sexual violence that threatens your safety or that of a child.
  2. Inability to occupy the apartment due to a disability.
  3. The allocation of a dwelling in low-rental housing.
  4. Permanent admission to a residential facility that provides services required by your state of health (for seniors).

Other reasons such as buying a home, divorce, disagreements with joint tenants, or financial problems are not sufficient to force a landlord to terminate a lease. The remaining options are therefore assignment of a lease and sublease.

Assignment of a lease

The assignment of a lease in Quebec involves transferring the lease to a third party. This means you have to permanently leave the dwelling, which also releases you from any responsibility for it. You then no longer have any rights or obligations to the landlord.[2]

Subletting an apartment

Subletting lets you avoid paying rent for a dwelling that you don’t live in while allowing you to return to live there according to a predefined agreement. You remain the guarantor of the lease and have various responsibilities to the landlord, particularly in the event of non-payment.[3] By subletting your apartment to a third party, they become a temporary tenant and have the same rights as you, except for the maintenance of the premises.[4]

How do you transfer a lease or sublet your apartment?

In both cases, you must find a subtenant and then send a written notice to the landlord that includes the person’s name, address and the effective date of the change.[5]

The landlord then has 15 days after receiving the notice to respond. They cannot refuse the proposed subtenant without serious cause, such as inability to pay. If you do not receive a response within this timeframe, the landlord is presumed to have accepted the person.[6]

Various notice templates are available on the Tribunal administratif du logement website.

Special cases

In Quebec, the Civil Code provides for three situations that prohibit the assignment of a lease or sublease:[7]

  1. A person living in an educational institution.
  2. A person staying in a low-rental dwelling.
  3. Your rental dwelling is declared as the main family residence and your spouse or civil union partner refuses to sublet or assign the lease.

Whatever your situation, take the time to learn about your rights and obligations. You should also get your agreement in writing and obtain the consent of all parties involved before planning your move.

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See also:

Joint tenancy: benefits, obligations and lease

Rent-to-own: an answer to home ownership?

What is the percentage of the 2023 rent increase?

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