Sub-letting and the Law: What Landlords and Tenants Need to Know

When a landlord rents an apartment, they will often take time to choose a tenant that they can trust to pay the rent on time and take proper care of the property. They haven’t given permission to hand the keys over to a completely new person. At the same time, for a tenant, life happens. Sometimes there is an illness that requires leaving an apartment for an extended period of time, or the complications of school and work. A large enough apartment may also have space for a roommate.

It’s reasons like these that make sub-letting such an attractive option; a large percentage of lease holders do sub-let at some point. Problems arise, however, because there is no clear law that determines who has the right to sub-let or forbid it here in Canada. Let’s take a closer look.

What Does the Law Say?

The Residential Tenancies Act Part VI clearly states that the landlord has the right to consent or refuse the right to sub-let an apartment. This applies both to a specific potential sub-tenant or for a general request by a tenant to be able to assign a lease. At first it seems pretty straightforward. A tenant must ask permission, and the landlord can then choose whether to deny or grant the request. It becomes a bit murky, however, when a couple of the subsections are factored in.

Refusing Consent Isn’t Always Allowed

While the law states that it is the landlord’s right to refuse consent to sub-let, one major cause for confusion comes from the phrase, “a landlord shall not arbitrarily or unreasonably withhold consent to the sublet of a rental unit to a potential subtenant.”

What constitutes arbitrary or unreasonable? Those two terms are very much open to interpretation. It’s common for the landlord and tenant to have different opinions of what is permissible. That is why in the case of a landlord and tenant sub-leasing conflicting, dispute resolution mechanisms are sometimes required. In serious cases, tenancy lawyers may need to be consulted: case law and precedent often point to a solution and it can be helpful to talk an attorney that knows the area.

There Are Real Consequences to Refusing a Sub-let

In addition to the uncertainty created by legal phraseology, there are a variety of potential consequences laid out for when a landlord refuses consent to sub-let. This can include an abatement of rent, termination of tenancy, and an order to allow the tenant to sub-let. Whenever a situation has escalated to include the landlord and tenant board of appeals, it is always advisable for both parties to consult tenant dispute lawyers Toronto residents rely on.

When the Landlord Agrees to a Sub-Let

Even when a landlord agrees to a tenant’s request for a sub-tenant, things do not always go smoothly. If the sub-tenant proves to be an ideal tenant, who pays their rent in a timely fashion and takes good care of the apartment, then everyone is happy. However, in situations where the sub-tenant does not pay rent, or causes property damage, questions arise as to who is responsible.

The law states that the tenant remains accountable to the landlord and also must receive the same benefits as laid out in the lease. In turn, the sub-tenant is liable to the tenant. However, when a dispute arises and three or more parties are involved, finding a resolution always becomes more complicated. In dealing with problems that arise from problems with sub-letting, it’s best to consult a landlord or tenant lawyer. Toronto’s best choice for all apartment real estate matters is HLD Lawyers. Call us today for more information.