On August 8, 2016, the Residential Tenancies (Safer Spaces
for Victims of Domestic Violence) Amendment Act, 2015 (the
"Act") came into force. Essentially, the Act
allows for persons suffering from domestic violence to break
residential leases early without financial penalty.
For the purposes of the Act, a person suffering from
domestic violence includes the actual person, that person's
dependent child, or a protected adult who lives with that person.
The person inflicting the violence can be the married to that
person, in an adult interdependent partnership with that person,
dating that person, the biological or adoptive parent of that
person, related by blood to that person, or resides/cares for/has
custody over that person.
The acts or omissions that constitute domestic violence within
the Act include but are not limited to: injury, property
damage, intimidation, psychological or emotional abuse, forced
confinement, sexual contact of any kind that is coerced by force or
threat, and stalking.
In order to terminate a residential lease for reasons of
domestic violence, the tenant is required to provide the landlord
with at least 28 days' notice before the tenancy is set to
terminate, and a certificate outlining grounds for termination of
the lease. Assuming the notice is properly served on the landlord,
the tenant is only responsible for rent during the period of
notice. Further, the tenant is not subject to penalty payments
under the tenancy agreement for early termination, and may request,
if applicable, that the landlord apply the security deposit paid in
respect of the leased premise in payment of the rent during the
The certificate referenced above can only be issued by the
Ministry of Human Services, and may issue said certificate if the
tenant can produce a copy of an emergency protection order, or
statement from a medical professional, police officer, or other
recognized individual attesting to the domestic violence.
Given the complexities that arise in domestic violence scenarios,
it remains to be seen whether these provisions of the Act
will be an effective tool in providing relief to those persons
suffering from domestic violence. Regardless, it is important that
both landlords and tenants understand their respective rights and
realities under this new legislation.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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