Fleeing faster: New Ontario provision allows domestic and sexual abuse victims to break rentals early

Posted
September 14, 2016

Julie Lalonde decided she needed to escape from an abusive partner, but one thought kept holding her back: What would she do about their shared apartment lease?

Lalonde and her partner at the time had just moved into an apartment together, but eight months into it, she realized she had to get out.

She says that after finally getting the courage to leave, things got ugly.

    "It was really scary. He threatened to take me to small claims court, he threatened to ruin my credit.... It was just such a nightmare," Lalonde recalled to CBC News.

    "I left my abusive ex with the responsibility to take over the rest of our lease. He was not a fan of that, and used it as leverage to continue stalking me, and harassing me and forcing me to keep in contact with him," she said.

    That was 12 years ago. 

    'It literally moved me to tears'

    A new provision of Ontario's Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan makes it easier for tenants who fear for their safety and their children's safety to break housing leases.

    A change to Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act that took effect Sept. 8 now allows tenants fleeing domestic or sexual violence to terminate a lease in 28 days, down from 60, "allowing them to be able to leave an unsafe living environment quickly," according to the action plan. While the termination date for most leases cannot be sooner than the last day of the contract, the new provision allows these tenants to give notice any time during their tenancy.

    Read more: Fleeing faster: New Ontario provision allows domestic and sexual abuse victims to break rentals early