What should I do when my landlord will not respond to me?
February 21, 2012 12:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to get out of my lease 13 days early. I have sent my landlord's company 2 letters, made 16 phone calls, left 11 messages, and no one has responded. What do I do? What can I assume?

I live in Toronto in a building owned by a large company. I have found a new apartment that is closer to my work. I would like to move into my new apartment by April 1st.

I gave my notice on February 13th, which is 13 days shy of the required 60 days notice. I have been a good tenant who never puts up a fuss and is courteous and kind to other residents. I asked that they please forgive the late notice and let me leave on good terms with their company.

I have spoken with one person who was unable to provide me with any direct answers. The person legally in charge of granting my request has not returned any of my phone calls or replied to any of my letters.

The second letter I sent indicated that I concluded their silence meant they were in agreement with my request and thanked them for the time at my current address.

If I have STILL heard nothing, what should I do? Do I keep calling them or just move out? FWIW, the building is in some disrepair and the heat is unbearable!

Any advice would be appreciated.
posted by nothingsconstant to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is definitely not a legal answer, but if they're too lazy to respond to their tenants, they're probably going to be too lazy to drag you to court for a 13 day per-diem.
posted by zug at 12:18 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: Would it be possible to go to the leasing office directly?

Also, I know of one couple who was able to get out of their lease 30 days early (60 days required) by finding a new tenant themselves. Normally, the 60 day notice is for the convenience of the leasing company. The company then uses that period to find new tenants.
posted by mild deer at 12:19 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: How much is 13 days worth of rent?
posted by jon1270 at 12:28 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: Sorry, 17 days.
posted by jon1270 at 12:29 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: This is not legal advice, but I don't think your "silence meant they were in agreement with my request" theory is going to fly in a court of law. I think in absence of a positive answer, you have to assume they have rejected your request and the terms of your lease still apply.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:41 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Move out but don't give up the fight for things like your security deposit. And of course value of days you weren't in occupancy.

Meanwhile, if feasible for you, go to the office where allegedly responsible person works.
posted by bearwife at 12:42 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: If I have STILL heard nothing, what should I do? Do I keep calling them or just move out? FWIW, the building is in some disrepair and the heat is unbearable!

There's nothing keeping you from moving out. The only question is whether they will release you from paying the money you are obligated to pay them. M
posted by jayder at 12:43 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: Accidentally pressed post too early ...

Move out and let them try to collect it.

At this point, you need to accept their failure to respond as a "no."
posted by jayder at 12:45 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: When we found our current place, we paid double rent for one month. It allowed us to take our time moving, so we were able to get quite a few things moved before the big moving day, and it allowed us to do things like cancel and set up the internet on a much easier schedule.

It never occurred to us to not pay rent for the two weeks we were no longer at our old place since our lease was for that date. We paid the rent, then worked on moving out.

I'd honestly just move when you're going to and if the two weeks of rent is that important to you, keep up the fight until your satisfied, or use those two weeks as we did and allow yourself to move in on an un-rushed time table.....
posted by zizzle at 12:47 PM on February 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: (IAAL, IANYL, TINLA)

I highly recommend finding a lawyer or a Tenant's Rights Association in Toronto to ask them about this situation. I know absolutely nothing about Canadian law, or Toronto Municipal Code, but I know that landlords can be tricky and creative when it comes to money, and have had lots of practice (MUCH more than tenants) in dealing with people trying to get out of paying them.

For example, as a landlord, I might consider your acknowledgement of lack of notice for an April 1 moveout as an admission, and therefore I know that your unit is already paid for in April. Additionally (depending on your lease and the local laws), I might argue that because your notice was not adequate, that you haven't at law given notice for May 1 either!

Talk to someone knowledgeable about tenants rights in Toronto; it will save you time and money in the future.
posted by China Grover at 12:53 PM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Can you send a certified letter or something that the person in charge of approving this would have to sign for? Might hold up a little better in court, if it comes to that.
posted by jabes at 12:53 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: I'd just accept it as, as zizzle says, extra time for your move. (When I bought my condo, there was a glitch in the paperwork and the finalization date got pushed back to the 15th of the month, while my former landlord would only accept the end of the month as the end of that lease: it was mildly annoying at first, then I realized just this: that two weeks' overlap ended up making my move smooth and MUCH easier!)
posted by easily confused at 1:27 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: The problem is going to be that they have your first and last, right? I have a friend who gave her notice 2 days shy of the 60 days and they charged her for the extra month. The law says you have to give notice to the end of your lease agreement (the last day of the month, usually) even if that is more than 60 days. If you give notice in the middle of the month, it's that half month and the next two months.


You can move out whenever you want, of course, but you are still liable for the rent. Whether they will chase you down for a month's rent, I can't say (though I would guess yes, especially if it's a property management company). Where you are really screwed, though, is if they have post-dated cheques, because they are totally allowed to cash the next two months' cheques and likely will do so. (That's what delivered the wallop to my friend.)

I have been a good tenant who never puts up a fuss and is courteous and kind to other residents.

This is the minimum requirement of renting. It doesn't make you an especially good tenant.

My sympathies lie with you; I think the 60 day notice in Ontario is absurd. I think it is true that if they can rent the apartment on the time frame you are hoping for, they can't charge the rent twice. But I'm not certain if that's Ontario or BC's laws. Sadly, there really isn't any incentive for them to do it, since they can have that month to do anythig they like with the place, on your dime.
posted by looli at 1:53 PM on February 21, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the links and your responses everyone, they've given me some food for thought. It's a pain to deal with all this stuff especially since they are not great about maintenance and general repair of the building.

I'm going to keep calling until I can actually speak with the person in charge. I have drafted a registered letter and will send it tomorrow. No use going to the office as she is hardly ever there as she is out visiting properties. It just seems like poor business practice to not even acknowledge that they are thinking about it and will get back to me.

I'm willing to suck it up and pay the rent, but would of course prefer not to get stuck paying April's rent in two different places.

I guess I will also have to re-submit my notice at the end of this month and hope for the best.
posted by nothingsconstant at 4:06 PM on February 21, 2012

I would document all of the phone calls (cell phone records?) and definitely keep all emails. Then, try really really hard to find them a new tenant to take your unit.

I am not a lawyer, and this is obviously not legal advice. However, I do rent in Ontario, and my understanding of the law is that unless you receive explicit agreement from your landlord to terminate a lease early, you're responsible for paying for the unit up until the end of the lease. Even if you were going month-to-month, you need to give a full 60 days notice or they can come after you for the missing month, as looli explained.

If they have post-dated cheques, you could put a stop payment on the April 1st one. I wouldn't really advise it though, as while it would slow them down, they still have recourse to come after you, and then you'd probably have to pay extra fees for their hassle.

BUT. You can put in an official request to assign your tenancy. This basically means having someone else assume your lease (in your case, 1 month). According to the Residential Tenancies Act:

If the landlord agrees…
If a landlord agrees to the idea of allowing the tenant to assign the rental unit to someone else, the tenant may find another person to rent the unit and ask the landlord to accept this person. The landlord has the right to refuse to let this person become a new tenant, but must have a good reason for doing so.

A landlord can charge the tenant for any of their reasonable costs in approving the assignment, such as the cost of doing a credit check on the person who may be renting the unit. The landlord cannot, however, charge the tenant more than the landlord’s actual costs.

If the landlord refuses…

If the landlord will not let the tenant assign the rental unit, or does not reply within seven days of the tenant’s request to assign
[emphasis mine], the tenant can end their tenancy by giving a Tenant’s Notice to Terminate the Tenancy (Form N9) to the landlord. The tenant must give the landlord this notice no later than 30 days after the request was made.

Tenants who have a daily or weekly tenancy must give the landlord at least 28 days notice. In all other cases, tenants must give the landlord at least 30 days notice.

So, what (I think) this means is: if they agree to your request to assign your tenancy and you find a suitable new tenant by March 1st, the management company will either take let this person assume your lease or terminate your lease early and have the new tenant sign a new lease (better deal for the landlord since they get a full year's lease, rather than just 1 month).

If they refuse to allow this, or continue to ignore you, you can give 30 days' notice and leave without penalty.

Of course, this new person would have to be a good tenant in order for this to work (e.g., if you find someone who has insufficient income or bad credit or a bad rental history, the landlord can "has a good reason" to refuse to allow you to assign tenancy to this person and you're back at square one). I mean, you can appeal to the Board if you believe that the landlord is "unreasonably withhold[ing] consent to assign or sublet the rental unit", but that seems messy and drawn out.

Good luck!
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 4:09 PM on February 21, 2012

Oh, and for the record, you could give notice TODAY for April 30th, and it would count as sufficient notice. No need to wait until the end of the month -- so long as the date is at least 60 days away, at the end of a rental period (so the end of each month if you pay rent on the 1st), and is explicilty stated in your notice, it should suffice.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 4:12 PM on February 21, 2012

err... "stop payment on the MARCH 1st" one, not April 1st, in my post at 7:09pm. Because you would've paid the last month's rent upon signing the lease. (Regardless, I still don't recommend this move.) Sorry. I'll stop spamming the thread now.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 4:16 PM on February 21, 2012

Response by poster: Just an update for all of you! They accepted my request (finally!).
posted by nothingsconstant at 6:52 PM on February 23, 2012

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