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upset woman crying - Terminating a Lease Early for Domestic Abuse

How to Terminate a Lease Early for Domestic Abuse

In Alberta, tenants experiencing domestic violence can terminate a lease early for domestic abuse. Although this isn’t an issue most people like to talk about or deal with, legislation passed in 2016 protects victims of abuse. It’s helpful for landlords need to be aware of the Act and the criteria.

In 2016, the Residential Tenancies (Safer Spaces for Victims of Domestic Violence) Amendment Act, Termination of Tenancy (Domestic Violence) Regulation, and amendments to the RTA Ministerial Regulation allowed victims of domestic violence to end a tenancy early without financial penalty if they meet the following criteria:

  • The victim of violence is the tenant named on the lease.
  • The tenant, their dependent child or, protected adults living with them experience domestic violence.
  • The safety of the tenant’s their dependant child, a protected adult living with them, or the tenant is at risk if the lease continues.

Terminating the lease agreement early – how?

Tenants experiencing domestic violence can end their lease in one of two ways.

  • Get a Certificate Confirming Grounds to Terminate, and give it to the landlord (personally, have another person deliver it, or send it by registered mail) 28 days prior to the desired lease end date (rules for periodic and fixed-term leases do not apply with victims of domestic abuse) or;
  • In an emergency, by calling the police (911)

What’s the process to get a Certificate Confirming Grounds to Terminate the Lease?

To issue a certificate, tenants must have supporting documentation, including an existing court order for any one of the following:

  • Emergency Protection Order
  • King’s Bench Protection Order
  • Restraining Order
  • Peace Bond or other court order prohibiting communication between the tenant and person causing harm; and
  • An authorized professional statement stating the tenant is a victim of domestic violence. Certified professionals who can provide a signed statement include doctors, registered nurses/nurse practitioners, registered psychologists, psychiatric nurses, police or RCMP officers, employees of an agency supporting victims of crime, and employees of an agency providing shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

Do the co-tenants have to leave?

The victim isn’t required to tell the co-tenants of the termination; however, the landlord is required to notify the co-tenants. The co-tenants must leave unless the landlord agrees to a new lease with the existing co-tenants.

What is Domestic Violence According to the RTA?

According to the RTA, domestic violence falls under four categories: physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and economic abuse. The act also defines who domestic violence is committed by in the following table sourced from the RTA’s Safer Spaces for Victims of Domestic Violence.

Image sourced from Safer Spaces for Victims of Domestic Abuse

For more information, including a sample notice and resources for victims of domestic violence, please visit  CPLEA.

To take advantage of helpful tips, tools, and educational resources for DIY landlords, sign up for a membership for Landlord Fundamentals 101. To save even more time and money, combine Landlord Fundamentals 101 with one-on-one coaching to qualify for the Canada Alberta Job Grant.

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