Ridout Barron

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Can tenants leave if they lose their jobs?

If a tenant loses his or her job, finances can become tight in a hurry. The tenant might be tempted to walk away from his or her lease, unable to make the payments, perhaps in order to move in with friends or family members for free. While tenants do not feel much ownership regarding a rental property, are they allowed to do this?

The short answer is that they are only allowed to do so under two circumstances. First, if your tenants are using month-to-month leases, they are free to leave whenever they want to do so, as long as they are current on the payments under the agreed-upon structure.

The second way that they can break the lease is if they come to you and ask to be let out of it early. It is then up to you, as the landlord, to decide if you'll allow them to break that lease or not. This is to be done at your own discretion, and you have no obligation to agree with them or go along with it just because they desire to leave.

Otherwise, when using a standard lease—such as a 12-month-lease—the tenant has to pay for all 12 months, as was stated at the beginning of the lease. He or she is not free from this agreement just because financial circumstances have changed.

If you've had a tenant leave without paying what was stated in the lease, you must know what legal options you have in Canada. After all, the law is on your side, and you must know how to use it to your advantage to get what you deserve.

Source: The Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta, "If your employment ends...Laws for Tenants in Alberta," accessed April. 14, 2015

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Ridout Barron
1827 14th Street SW
Calgary, AB T2T 3T1

Phone: 587-315-8454
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