If you are experiencing domestic violence, you may be able to end your lease early.
Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) says that tenants can end a lease if all the following are true:
- The tenant is named on the lease agreement.
- The tenant, their dependent child or a protected adult living with them experience domestic violence.
- The safety of the tenant, their dependent child or a protected adult living with them is at risk if the lease continues.
You must give your landlord a Certificate Confirming Grounds to Terminate Tenancy to end your lease.
Domestic Violence under the RTA
In Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act, domestic violence means:
- actions or lack of actions that injure someone or damage property AND that intimidate or harm someone
- any act or threat that intimidates a person by creating a reasonable fear of property damage or injury to someone
- psychological or emotional abuse
- forced confinement (such as being locked in a room with no way out)
- sexual abuse
- stalking (including repeated, harassing contact)
The person causing the domestic violence must be:
- someone you are or were married to
- someone you are or were in an adult interdependent relationship with
- someone you live with or have lived with in an intimate relationship
- someone you are or were dating, regardless of whether you have lived together
- a parent of your child, regardless of whether you have lived with that person
- someone you are related to by blood, marriage, adoption or an adult interdependent relationship (including adult children and in-laws)
- someone who lives with you and cares for you under a court order
How To End Your Lease
1. Get your supporting document ready.
You need one of the following supporting documents:
- existing court order, such as Emergency Protection Order, Queen’s Bench Protection Order, Restraining Order, Peace Bond or other court order prohibiting communication between you and the person causing harm.
- Certified Professional Statement – a signed statement from a certified professional declaring you to be a victim of domestic violence. The following certified professionals can sign the statement:
- registered nurses or nurse practitioners
- registered social workers
- registered psychologists
- psychiatric nurses
- police or RCMP officers
- anyone who works for an agency supporting victims of crimes (such as Victims Services)
- anyone who works for an agency providing shelter for victims of abuse
2. Send the document to Safer Spaces.
Safer Spaces is a Government of Alberta office. You can submit the document by:
- email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- fax to 1.800.666.5014
- in person to an Alberta Supports Centre
You must also give your contact information so a Safer Spaces Advisor can contact you if they issue the Certificate.
TIP | Visit the Government of Alberta’s website to learn more about Safer Spaces Alberta.
3. Wait for your Certificate.
Within seven days of submitting your request, a Safer Spaces Advisor will contact you. They will let you know if they issued the Certificate. If they issued the Certificate, they will discuss how to get it to you. If they do not issue the Certificate, you can reapply if your situation changes.
4. Give the Certificate to your landlord along with notice you are ending your lease.
The Certificate proves to your landlord that you are a victim of domestic violence and have legitimate reasons for ending the lease.
You must serve (give) your landlord the Certificate along with a written notice. The notice must:
- be in writing
- be signed by you (the tenant)
- say you are terminating your tenancy (ending your lease)
- say the termination date
Options for serving your landlord include:
- giving the documents to your landlord in person, if safe to do so
- having someone else give the documents to your landlord on your behalf
- mailing the documents to your landlord via registered mail
Your landlord must receive the documents at least 28 days before you want to end the lease and move out. You also must give your landlord the Certificate and notice no more than 90 days after the date on the Certificate.
5. Pay rent for the next 28 days.
This is the notice period. You can ask your landlord to pay all or part of the rent from your security deposit. Your landlord cannot make you pay a fee for ending your lease early if you have properly given them notice and the Certificate.
6. Move out on the termination date.
If you do not move out, you may have to pay more rent.
TIP | Learn more about landlord and tenant laws at CPLEA’s Laws for Landlords and Tenants in Alberta website.
Frequently Asked Questions
What about other people living with me? Do they have to move out?
Once you give notice to your landlord to end the lease, the lease ends for everyone living in the space. However, the landlord can sign a new lease with the other tenants.
If safe to do so, you can tell the other tenants you have given notice. If you live with the person causing harm, it is likely not safe to tell them you have given notice. You can move out right away and get to a safe place before the other tenant receives notice from Safer Spaces and the landlord that the lease is ending.
Can my landlord tell others I am ending my lease?
Your landlord cannot share any info they receive through the process and about you. They must keep this confidential. There are a few exceptions, such as your landlord sharing the Certificate with the police, if the police ask for it.
The landlord can disclose to other tenants that they received a notice to terminate tenancy.
What if the person causing harm damages the property after I leave? Will I get my security deposit back?
If the damage occurs after your lease ends (after the 28-day notice period), you are not responsible for any damage to the property.
If the damage occurs while you are still a tenant (before or during the 28-day notice period), you may be responsible for the damage. The landlord may be able to deduct money from your security deposit to fix the damage.
Can my landlord evict the person causing harm so I can stay?
The landlord cannot evict just the person causing harm. You may be able to negotiate a new lease with your landlord if the person causing harm moves out. Talk to a lawyer or Victims’ Services for more information about your options for staying safe.
Can I apply for a Certificate if I live on a First Nations Reserve?
Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act does not apply to First Nations Reserves in Alberta. This means the Certificate is not available for those living on a First Nations Reserve.