Moving out of Rented Premises

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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.

This topic discusses the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant when the tenant moves out of the rented premises. Rented premises include among others, apartments, houses, duplexes and condominiums. The rights and responsibilities are set out in Alberta by the Residential Tenancies Act.

When you move from your rented premises you must give your landlord notice. The notice periods depend upon the type of tenancy you have.

  • A fixed term tenancy means that you rented your premises for a certain time period between specified dates. For example, your tenancy Agreement may be for the fixed term between January 1 and December 31.
  • The tenancy may be a periodic tenancy, which means that you rent your premises on a weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis.
  • The required notice period also depends upon who is ending the tenancy, you or your landlord.

If you have a fixed term tenancy set by specified dates, the tenancy or lease Agreement automatically ends when the fixed term tenancy is over. There is no notice required by the landlord or yourself, if you are moving out. If you wish to have notice at the end of the fixed term tenancy, the terms of the Agreement should be drafted into the tenancy or lease Agreement.

If you wish to move out before the fixed term tenancy is over, you may be required to pay rent until the end of the lease. The law requires the landlord to make reasonable efforts to rent the premises even if you break the lease, but if no tenant is found, you will probably have to pay the rent until the fixed term tenancy ends. You may be able to find someone else to sub-lease or assign your fixed term tenancy to. However, you will be held responsible for any breach in the lease terms by the person to whom you sub-let or assign. The landlord cannot refuse to consent to an assignment unless there are reasonable grounds for doing so.

If you have a periodic tenancy, the length of the notice period depends upon the time period you rent the premises for. For example:

  • To terminate a weekly tenancy, notice must be served on or before the 1st day of the tenancy week to be effective on the last day of that tenancy week;
  • If the periodic tenancy is more than 1 week but less than 1 year, the notice must be made 1 month before you move out of the premises;
  • If the tenancy is to terminate a yearly tenancy, then the notice must be given 2 months or 60 days before the last day of the tenancy year.

If the landlord is giving you notice for a periodic tenancy, the landlord must provide written reasons for which the tenancy is terminated, identify the premises, state the date on which the tenant is to move and provide the notice period as follows:

  • To terminate a weekly tenancy, notice must be served on or before the 1st day of the tenancy week to be effective on the last day of that tenancy week;
  • If the periodic tenancy is on a monthly basis, the notice must be served on the tenant 3 months before the date the tenant must move out.
  • If the periodic tenancy is for 1 year, the notice must be given 90 days before the tenant must move out of the premises.

If you move without giving the landlord proper notice, the landlord may refuse to accept your move and still consider you as a tenant. If the landlord refuses to accept your departure as the end of the tenancy, the landlord can sue you for the rent money owed until other tenants begin a tenancy Agreement. You must pay any outstanding rent and the time the premises remained vacant.

The landlord must pay your security deposit with interest within 10 days of your moving out of the premises. If the landlord does not return your security deposit within 10 days, they must provide a written statement giving reasons for not paying the same. If you owe money for rent, cleaning, damages to the apartment or any other charges with respect to the premises, the landlord will deduct that amount. The landlord must provide a statement of account showing how the deductions were spent. It is an offence for the landlord not to comply with these requirements and there is a fine up to $5,000 for non-compliance. Contact your local office of Alberta Government services if you have not been paid. Disagreements over the deductions made can be resolved by starting an action in the Small Claims court of the Provincial Court.

No deductions are allowed for ‘normal wear and tear.’ Normal wear and tear is deterioration that occurs over time with the use of the premises even though the premises received reasonable care and maintenance.

Personal possessions that are abandoned in the apartment can be disposed of by the landlord as they see fit, if the value is less than $1,000. This also applies to goods that are perishable if stored or if the cost of moving and storage amount to more than their value. If the abandoned goods are worth more than $1,000, the landlord must store the goods for at least 30 days. If the goods are not claimed, the landlord may take the goods to a public action. If no bid is received for the abandoned goods, the landlord may dispose of the goods.

If you refuse to move out at the end of your tenancy, the landlord can get a court order and have a Civil Enforcement Agency forcibly remove you. The landlord can sue for damages, such as lost rent and the new tenant’s expenses while waiting for you to leave. You must receive Notices of all Court applications so that you are given an opportunity to be heard in Court.