Most people are struggling with the question of what is the penalty for breaking a mortgage in Toronto or Canada? The competitive mortgage products are making this decision difficult. Before deciding, consider whether breaking your contract will help you save money or bring you several costly penalties. Differentiating the amortization and mortgage term when you want to pay off a mortgage early is also crucial.

The penalty for breaking a mortgage depends on the lender and the type of mortgage but can be hefty. Since breaking the old contract is considered taking up a new loan, the penalties also differ depending on the interest rate. Variable rates will require you to pay three months’ interest, while fixed interest will pay either the Interest Rate Differential (IRD) or three months’ interest, depending on what is higher.

For example, if your mortgage was $500,000 with a rate of 4.25%, and you want to break it with two years remaining, you have to determine the current rate and subtract it from the initial one first to get the IRD mortgage penalty. Then, multiply the product by the principal amount. Next, divide the result by 12 months, then multiply the result with the remaining months.

So, should I break my mortgage early? It depends on your circumstances and whether the new contract will bring you any benefits.

Why Do You Want to Break Your Mortgage?

Can you break your mortgage early? The reasons for breaking a mortgage early depend on every person’s circumstances. The conditions in the current contract may no longer be suitable for your needs, and you may want to renegotiate your contract. Other reasons include:

  • Reduced interest rates. It can help you save a lot of money in the long run despite the penalties for ending the contract.
  • The home is no longer serving you as it did before.
  • You intend to move to a new property in a different location.
  • Your financial circumstances have changed.
  • Your family has changed, and the home no longer serves the initial purpose.

So, should I break my mortgage early? The answer depends on your exact situation and how well you can handle the repercussions.

Open Mortgage VS. Closed Mortgage

Open mortgages do not have penalties when the contract is broken. They allow the borrower to pay off a mortgage early without incurring extra charges. The open-end policy may work for borrowers but not lenders. Because of that, open mortgages have premium interest rates that allow the lenders to get back as much interest as possible before the term is over. Although finding them is possible, open mortgages are less common.

In comparison, closed mortgages come with a contract that defines when the debt should be paid. A mortgage penalty is applied if the loan is renegotiated, paid early, or refinanced before the stipulated duration elapses. Try to understand the terms before signing for the mortgage because you will have to adhere to all of them.

The penalty for paying off mortgage early can be calculated with variable or fixed rates, but both options can have dire consequences on your finances. To compare all your options before breaking the contract.

What is a Prepayment Penalty?

A prepayment penalty is a fee that a mortgage lender charges when the borrower fails to adhere to some of the conditions in the loan contract. You are likely to pay a prepayment penalty if:

  • You pay more than the allowed amount for the mortgage.
  • You transfer the mortgage to a different individual before your term elapses.
  • You do not pay the whole principal amount before the mortgage term is finished, even if you sell the house.

Prepayment penalties are also commonly referred to as breakage costs or prepayment charges. These charges can accumulate to thousands of dollars. Knowing how they are calculated and applied can help you adjust your finances accordingly. However, open mortgages do not have prepayment penalties, even if you make a lump-sum payment.

What is Prepayment Privilege?

Some types of mortgages allow borrowers to add an extra amount of money to the monthly payments required without penalization. The additional amount is called prepayment privilege. This will enable you to increase your payment without worrying about incurring more expenses and paying lump-sum amounts, which can be a percentage of the mortgage’s principal.

Not all lenders will have the same prepayment privileges. The terms and conditions surrounding each are usually included in the mortgage contract. Start by determining if the lender has a prepayment offer and when you can be allowed to make the payments. The contract should also indicate whether there is a maximum amount you cannot surpass or a limited amount you must have. Possible penalties or fees, and any other conditions, should also be highlighted.

Most mortgage lenders give borrowers a limited amount for the prepayment amount each year. Unfortunately, the privilege cannot be carried over, which means it is impossible to move a balance from one year into the next.

What is the Penalty to Break a Mortgage in Canada?

One of the common questions we get from potential borrowers is what is the penalty for ending a mortgage early? The question may be a source of worry for most people, and rightfully so. The type of mortgage you signed for, whether closed or open, will determine the amount. Open mortgages do not have a penalty for paying off the mortgage early, whereas closed ones do.

The cost to break a mortgage will also rely on several factors such as appraisal fees, administration fees, reinvestment fees, and mortgage discharge fees. This last fee is typically used to register a new mortgage in place of the old one and may be part of the penalty for breaking the mortgage. In some cases, cash backs given with the mortgage may also be returned.

Whatever your reason for breaking the mortgage may be, going through the contract carefully and talking to your lender is the only way to understand what is the penalty for breaking a mortgage.

How to Avoid Mortgage Penalty

Some mortgages have the option of extension before the mortgage term lapses, which is one of the best options to consider when not sure whether to break my mortgage early. It is also the best alternative to explore when thinking of how to get out of a mortgage without penalty because no penalties are involved. It may include payment of administration fees. Before accepting this option, ask your lender to show you how they calculate interest rates to determine whether you can gain some savings from it. Getting a positive value is usually an indication that you will benefit from breaking the contract. In contrast, a negative value shows you should remain with the current contract to avoid hefty penalties.

You can use a mortgage prepayment calculator to determine interest savings. For instance, say you have a principal of $350,000 with a 5-year term and 5% original interest and a current interest rate of 4%. The mortgage has an amortization of 30 years. If you decide to break after two years, when the remaining mortgage is $300,000, you will have to use this remaining balance to adjust the amortization. In this case, it would be 28 (30-2). Therefore, the remaining term will be 36 months.

To determine how can I get out of my mortgage without penalty, you have to find the interest rate product with the duration of the term remaining. That will be 5 x 36=180. Next, get the difference between the current mortgage term and the number of months remaining (60 months-36 months= 24 months). You can then multiply the interest with the term difference (4 x 24 = 96). Next, get the sum of the current interest and the remaining term with the product of interest and the new term (180+96= 276). Finally, divide the result with the new term (276/60= 4.6%). That will be your blended interest rate for the new mortgage term.

Getting another lender that is offering a lower rate can also be a reason for breaking a mortgage and avoiding penalties, whether they will allow you to blend and extend or not. If the interest you will get will allow you to save more than the penalty, then it is a risk worth taking. Remember to factor in possible future changes in the interest rate when doing the calculations. Finding the best rates is the best way to avoid mortgage penalty.

How Much Does It Cost To Break a Mortgage When Changing Lenders?

Getting another lender with better interest rates can entice you into breaking your mortgage contract, and in most cases, it may be worth it. Calculate all the fees included in breaking the mortgage to ensure you get accurate numbers and benefits.

If, for example, you find a lender willing to charge you an interest of 3.5% and the current one will ask for a penalty of $6,500 to break your mortgage contract, making that move may be a good idea. Some of the costs you may have to consider are the interest rate, the prepayment penalty, and the total interest to be paid during the new term. The fees you may end up paying by choosing the lender offering a lower rate may still be higher than what you would pay if you decided to blend and extend the mortgage with your current lender.

Remember, you will always have to pay some fees when you start a new mortgage, regardless of whether it is with a new lender or the present one. Therefore, consider all those fees when computing the prepayment penalty to break your mortgage contract and determine if your lender is willing to negotiate a lower cost.

What You Should Know About Interest Rate Differential Penalty

Also known as the IRD penalty, this method of calculating interest is more complicated because the lenders use a different formula to find the amount you owe as a penalty. It may sound easier in theory, but the actual compilation requires keenness to ensure the numbers are correct. It involves finding the difference between the interest rate the lender is willing to charge for the new mortgage and the current interest available on the contract.

Taking a new mortgage automatically means getting a new contract with a new term. It could mean the current lender is selling off your mortgage contract to other investors looking for a way to profit through interest rates. They stand to benefit as long as you maintain the agreement and keep up with payments. If you decide to break that contract by speeding up the payments, you take away the lender’s profits. They will be forced to give a new borrower that loan, but at a lower rate, which means fewer profits for them. The interest rate differential penalty can help them recover some of the costs involved in changing the contract. It also makes it harder for borrowers to switch lenders whenever they feel that the mortgage rates are more included towards benefiting the lenders.

The IRD is the variance between the rate you currently have and the lender used when giving the loan. For example, if you have a current loan of $250,000, with the interest rate at 6%, the remaining mortgage term being 2 ½ years, and the current rate being 4.5%. Your IRD is:

25000 x 30 months x the difference between the rates (6% – 4.5% = 1.5%) = 112,500, which has to be divided by the number of months in one year. 112,500/12 = $9,375.

It is important to note that in most cases, the penalty for breaking a mortgage is the higher number between the IRD and three months’ interest penalty. That means you could end up paying $10,000.

Finding the differential rate is the trickiest part with IRD calculations, but it is the most crucial. It gets even more confusing when the posted rate for the term and what is being charged for the remaining term closely match. Some lenders also prefer to use the posted rates for the mortgage term when you try to renegotiate, especially because they can significantly increase the penalty fees.

New Rules For Interest Rate Differential Fees

The financial consumer agency in Canada has new rules in place to help calculate the interest rate differential penalties in a bid to solve consumer complaints. All lenders are mandated to give borrowers the following information to help with the rates.

  • Information regarding the mortgage type, whether it is open or closed. They must also explain the differences between the variable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages and the short-term vs. long-term rates.
  • Alternative mortgage payment methods can also help the borrowers clear the debts faster without necessarily incurring huge fees.
  • Other options for avoiding prepayment penalties, such as porting the mortgage.
  • The possible actions a borrower may take to ensure they clear the mortgage early by paying a payoff charge. For example, they could refinance the mortgage, transfer to another lender, or prepay higher amounts partially even if it is not allowed by the mortgage.

Mortgage calculators could be available on lenders’ websites to help borrowers get an accurate estimate of the prepayment charges.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Breaking Your Mortgage Contract Early


  • Reduced interest rates can help you save a lot of money.
  • You get to pay off the loan faster, especially if the payments remain the same.
  • You can pay less in monthly costs when you get a lower interest.


  • Long-term payments are higher because of the penalty and fees.
  • You may have to return the cashback received.
  • Must pass the stress test, which means you may not qualify for a new mortgage or may get approved for less.

Breaking Your Mortgage Early – Mistakes to Avoid

You Don’t Put Extra Payment Towards the Loan Principal

Putting in a little extra money towards paying off the principal amount every month can go a long way in helping you pay off your mortgage quickly. However, you have to specify that the additional money is for the principal to work to your advantage. Failure to do so could lead to the lender putting it towards the interest for the next scheduled payment, in which case it will not reduce the loan faster. Alternatively, you can write separate cheques for the interest and principal, making sure to note that on the memo. The trick to paying off the mortgage early in Canada is to specify that the extra cash is for the principal regardless of the payment platform you use.

You Leave Yourself Cash-Poor

Doing everything you can to get out of debt quickly is plausible, but it should not involve using up all your cash. You must leave some money for emergencies, so you are not forced to borrow again when you fall sick or if anything else arises. Spending all your money to pay the mortgage can leave you in a financially vulnerable position. You could end up maxing out your credit card or seeking other private lenders for more loans. Instead, start setting aside emergency funds by using the extra money you would have used for mortgage payments. Strive to save an equivalent of three month’s income, after which you can start paying the extra mortgage debt. Remember to put it towards the principal amount and not the interest if you want to see a difference.

You Extend Your Loan Term When Refinancing

Refinancing your mortgage is one of the best ways to explore ways of clearing that debt quickly. You get a chance to convert the mortgage into a shorter or longer one, depending on your financial situation. For example, if you have a mortgage with an amortization of 30 years and have already paid 10 years, you can refinance it to a 10-year term and save the other 10. You will pay more for a shorter period, but you can also extend the mortgage by adding another 10 years and make lower payments.

Keep in mind that shorter terms are usually accompanied by lower interest rates, which means you can save some money and gain ownership of the property sooner. On the other hand, extending your loan term may bring you temporary relief through the smaller payments, but in the long run, it is more costly. The best way to ensure you end up benefiting and not losing is to calculate and compare the numbers in each scenario and choose the one with the best outcome. Also, remember to include closing costs in your calculations because they can add up the costs.

You Don’t Consider All Of Your Options

For most people, the first thought when there is extra cash is paying off the mortgage before term. As tempting as it is, completing your payments before the stipulated term can have unpleasant consequences. For example:

If you were given $200,000 for 30 years, out of which 20 years have already elapsed, and at an interest rate of 4%, you may be tempted to pay a lump sum of $20,000. On the surface, that may seem like a good idea because it saves you over $8000 in interest and reduces the term. You can complete the mortgage two and a half years earlier, especially when you clarify that the extra amount – let’s assume $20,000 – is for the principal amount. While owning your home sooner may be a relief, you may also be exposed to some penalties depending on the type of loan you took and the agreement you had with the lender.

An alternative option that involves investing that money could be better. If, for instance, you used that money in an index fund for the S&P 500 that gives an average of 9.8% in returns, you could get back interest of over $30,500 in 10 years. Even a lower rate of around 4% can still bring you more than $10,000 in interest within that same duration. Having that kind of profit can be more beneficial compared to incurring losses because you finished paying off your mortgage before the specified time.

However, you have to remember that every person has different needs and priorities. What works for you may not be the same for someone else. As such, if getting out of debt is more important than saving some money, you can go ahead and pay the extra amount on the principal amount. On the other hand, if you are not in a rush to obtain full ownership of the property, exploring investment options and continuing with the regular payments may be the best for you.

An early mortgage payment can be messy if not handled correctly. While not worrying about monthly payments is rewarding, the possible expenses involved in making it happen can drain your finances. Choosing the correct method can help you avoid costly mistakes such as extra fees from the lender in the form of prepayment penalties.

Turkin Mortgage can help you explore all the ideal alternatives to ensure you get a solution that works for your exact situation and goals. We know how lasting the effects of bad financial choices can be, and we try to help our clients avoid them. Whatever your preferences, whether it is to clear the debt as soon as possible or to save as much money as possible in the process of homeownership, our brokers will help you find the perfect solution. We make sure to table all the facts, including the pros and cons of each alternative, to ensure you make the choice that will support your future financial goals. Our certified brokers are in the business of finding solutions that work for both the borrowers and the lenders, which guarantees satisfaction.

You Don’t Ask About Prepayment Penalty

Most mortgage lenders will put profitability before anything else, which is why they charge high-interest rates—prepaying the mortgage costs the lender money because they will not maximize the interest. To cover some of the losses, they will charge prepayment penalties, which may be a percentage of the loan or an equivalent of three months’ interest. Some of the factors used to determine those fees include the amount of mortgage you want to pay off early, the duration remaining until the end of the mortgage term (usually in months), the calculation method used, and the interest.

Failing to ask about the penalties and how the lender intends to calculate them can cost you a lot of money. For example, in most cases, lenders use an interest rate differential if the mortgage interest is higher than the present one. Mortgage terms that are less than five years may also attract higher fees.