What the landlord is doing is forcing you to abide by the terms of your lease agreement. You most likely agreed to a 1 year lease on a signed document, which means you're pretty much screwed because if he wanted to, he could force you to fulfill the lease and pay him anyway. However, his remarks about when you can notify to terminate are wrong. See end of answer.
About Terminating Your Lease Early
However, there are a few loopholes you can exploit. The easiest one is to get him to increase your rent. Ask about it, tell him that you're considering staying but tell him you want to know if he's going to increase the rent by much. If he declares that he is going to increase the rent, perfect. Get him to send it to you in writing (which he is legally required to do). Just in case though, have him on speaker phone and record every conversation you have from now on without telling him. This is legal (see this answer) and is a powerful form of evidence, so exploit the hell out of it.
If you can get him to tell you that he's going to increase your rent, then you can legally submit a notice to terminate tenancy on the grounds that you do not wish to pay the increase. In this case, the amount of notice that you have to give is capped to the day that the rent increase is to take place.
If you try this, do everything you can to get it in writing. Don't feel proud of snaring him and immediately announce that you're leaving because of this as soon as he says it on the phone, because you're screwing yourself out of going through the proper channels to make sure you not only win, but you've made your case air tight.
Also, feel free to let you landlord know that he owes you money. Landlords in Ontario have to repay you a capped interest rate on your last months' deposit every 12 months. This rate is decided annually and for 2015 is capped at 1.6%. If your landlord wants to be anal about the rules and stick the letter of the law to you, do it back. Becoming a pain your landlords ass is a great way to get them to either become more flexible, or make a mistake that will give you an out.
Notice that if he does increase the rent, he can demand that you increase your last months deposit and force you to pay it. You could "accidently" make him aware of this right in a conversation where you are concerned about a rent increase immediately after letting him know that he owes you money for the interest. "I'm concerned about the rent increase because I have to increase my deposit by law too."
This way, he'll hopefully have the thought "I can avoid having to give him any money by increasing his rent by the same interest rate, so he'll owe me what I owe him, therefore I owe nothing. I'm so smart!" Then he cheerfully gives you a notice to increase rent, at which time you invoke your right to terminate tenancy on short notice due to an increase in rent.
Your Landlord Is Wrong
All that aside, your landlord committed an illegal act when they refused your notice to terminate, because he's denying you your rights under the RTA. From the Residential Tenancies Act:
A tenant may terminate a tenancy at the end of a period of the tenancy
or at the end of the term of a tenancy for a fixed term by giving
notice of termination to the landlord in accordance with section 44.
2006, c. 17, s. 47
The details adjust a little bit depending on your circumstances, but the conditions in section 44 are basically to ensure the following:
- You are giving 60 days notice.
- You are not giving 60 days notice where the termination date you
provide is less than the previously agreed term, except in special cases like the one I mention about increased rent.
There is nothing in section 44 that can be confused to mean that you must wait until you have passed the end of your term before you can decide to leave. I suspect your landlord is deliberately interpreting the use of wording like "may terminate at the end of" to imply you have to wait to give your notice. A notice of termination is not a termination. It is a notice that in the future, you are going to terminate. Let's remove the confusion by replacing the word "terminate" with "vacating the premises and not paying another cent". That should remove any ambiguity that could be abused.
So frankly you can simply go straight to the board, file the appropriate form with them and just pack up and leave when you've reached the date specified in the notice to terminate. Your final month is covered by your deposit. File the form immediately, let them know about the conversation you had with your landlord, then go to your bank and cancel the cheques you've already written (except for your deposit cheque) and simply ignore the landlord, carrying on with your moving plans.
You should ask the Board if this illegal act has any ramifications. Perhaps because he has done this, this gives you an immediate out or something else. Call the Board and tell them what happened and ask them. They have an obligation to inform you correctly.
Landlord Tenant Board of Ontario FAQ
The Board is there to serve you, free of charge. They have a duty, as it is their explicit directive, to assist you in all matters regarding being a tenant. Phone them, talk to them at length, demand assistance. They are to inform you of your rights and guide you on the appropriate action, forms and procedure to assist you in resolving any issues you have.
Note that I wrote the whole bit about getting out of your lease early legally before I refreshed my memory on the fact that you can/should give your 60 days notice before the end of your lease period. That makes the case much simpler as a I note in my answer. I left the information I already wrote however because it could be applicable or at least be of some help to others.
Also note that if you're saying that the landlord came to get more cheques on the basis of his lie that he used to refuse your attempt to legally leave, then you'll need to cancel those cheques. That costs money. That alone is enough of a case to take him before the Tribunal and force him to repay the cost of those cancelled cheques. You may even successfully claim further damages or the Tribunal may voluntarily award you money for the actions your landlord is deliberately taking to deprive you of your rights. Talk to the Board.