TORONTO -- With interest rates at historic lows some homeowners are considering refinancing to take advantage of them, but if you break your current mortgage you could end up paying a huge penalty.

Dilini Jayasinghe and her family live in a Mississauga, Ont. townhouse, but they decided to upgrade to a detached home and felt a lower mortgage rate would be beneficial.

“We need a bigger home now because we have a baby," Jayasinghe told CTV News Toronto.

But Jayasinghe was only about half way through a five-year fixed rate mortgage. When she called her bank to say she was breaking it and planned to go with another lender, she was shocked at the amount of the penalty.

She was told it would cost her $15,000 to break her mortgage and then the penalty rose to $22,000 when it came time to do the actual paperwork.

“I had no idea there would be this much of a penalty if I broke the mortgage," Jayasinghe said.

The family banks with CIBC and a spokesperson told CTV News Toronto that, "in cases where a client wishes to prepay or break their mortgage before their chosen term is up, a cost is incurred by the bank and a prepayment charge can apply.”

The website compares mortgages and its CEO Justin Thouin says banks charge interest rate differential on fixed rate mortgages and as rates go down penalties go up.

“This is common in an environment where rates are going down because banks want to recoup the amount of money that they would have generated on their initial loan," Thouin said.

Thouin advises that if you feel there is a chance you may have to break your mortgage you should sign up for a variable rate mortgage and not a fixed one.

“Variable rate mortgages are far more lenient. The most you are going to have to pay for a mortgage penalty is three months interest.”

After Jayasinghe reached out to CTV News Toronto, CIBC agreed to work with her to see if she had other options to try and reduce her $22,000 penalty.

Due to the pandemic , many families have had to defer their mortgage payments and there is concern people facing financial difficulty may have to refinance or sell their homes and they also could face huge mortgage penalties.