Ending a Lease for Spousal or Sexual Violence

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A lease is a contract. When you sign a lease, you have responsibilities toward your landlord under this contract. Quebec law lets you end your lease if your safety or the safety of a child living with you is threatened by spousal or sexual violence. This law also applies to same-sex couples.

 

Spousal or sexual violence

Spousal violence is violent behaviour coming from a spouse or former spouse.

Sexual violence is sexually violent behaviour by one person against another, whether or not the victim knows this person. Some examples of sexual violence:

  • You or a child who lives with you have been sexually assaulted in your apartment, building or neighbourhood.
  • You or a child who lives with you are afraid of being sexually assaulted by someone who has threatened you and knows where you live.

 

What can you do?

You don’t have to file a complaint with the police before ending your lease because of spousal or sexual violence.

  • First, try to reach an agreement with your landlord to end your lease. 
  • If you can’t reach an agreement or prefer not to talk with your landlord, you can take other steps to end your lease (see below). You can get free help at any time from social workers at a Crime Victims Assistance Centre (CAVAC) or a Sexual Assault Centre (CALACS).

 

Getting an attestation

An attestation is the first document you’ll need. It confirms that you must end your lease because of spousal or sexual violence. To get an attestation, you must send a form along with other documents to the office of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions or to the courthouse nearest you. This step is free and confidential. 

 

Let your landlord know

Once you get the attestation, you must give your landlord 

  • a copy of the attestation, and 
  • a written notice that you plan to end your lease, called a notice of resiliation. The website of the Régie du logement has a model you can use.

Always keep proof that you sent the notice. You can send it by registered mail or bailiff. You can also hand-deliver it to your landlord and ask your landlord to sign a receipt. 

 

When does the lease end?

Your landlord can’t refuse to end you lease if you sent him the notice and attestation.

Important! Your lease doesn’t automatically end when you send your landlord the notice and attestation. There is a waiting period before it ends, even if you move out. You must continue paying rent during this waiting period unless your landlord agrees to end the lease right away. If you don’t pay your rent, your landlord can take you to the Régie du logement (rental board).

  • Your lease is for one year or more: The lease ends two months after you send the notice and attestation to your landlord. 
  • Your lease is for less than one year or has no set length: The lease ends one month after you send the notice and attestation to your landlord. 
     

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.