Lessor’s Right to Terminate a Lease

Repossessing a Dwelling

Download the PDF: Notice of repossession

Download the PDF: Reply to a notice of repossession

Under Québec law, lessees who comply with all of the conditions of their lease can stay in their dwelling as long as they wish. This is known as the right to maintain occupancy.

There are, however, exceptions to this rule, and repossessing a dwelling is one of them.

Who can repossess a dwelling?

A lessor, who is the owner of an immovable, can retake possession of a dwelling in the immovable.

A co-owner of an immovable held in undivided co-ownership can also repossess a dwelling on the condition there is only one other co-owner who is his or her spouse1.

In the other cases, repossession of a dwelling by the owner of an immovable held in co-ownership is impossible, barring the two exceptions mentioned at the end of this section.

In the event the immovable is sold, it is up to the new owner to take steps toward repossession, once the sale of the immovable has been concluded, not as of the signing of a promise to purchase.

For what reasons can an owner-lessor repossess a dwelling?

  • to live there himself or herself;
  • to have his or her father, mother, son or daughter live there;
  • to have live there any other relative or person connected2 by marriage or a civil union of whom the owner-lessor is the main material or moral support;
  • to have live there a former spouse of whom the owner-lessor is still the main material or moral support following their separation from bed and board or the dissolution of their civil union3.

Prohibition against repossessing a dwelling

Notwithstanding the above, the owner-lessor may not repossess a dwelling if the lessee, or the lessee’s spouse, is 70 years of age or over, has occupied the dwelling for at least 10 years and has income equal to or less than the maximum threshold to qualify for a dwelling in low-rental housing, except in one of the following situations:

  • the owner-lessor is 70 years of age or over and wishes to occupy the dwelling in question;
  • the beneficiary of the repossession is 70 years of age or over;
  • the owner-lessor is 70 years of age or over and wishes to have a beneficiary under 70 years of age reside in the immovable where he or she lives.

Compulsory notice

The owner-lessor must send the lessee a written notice informing the lessee of his or her intention to retake possession of the dwelling. The notice must include the information below:

  • the date fixed for repossession (generally the end of the lease);
  • the family name and given name of the person who is to live in the dwelling;
  • the degree of relationship or the bond between the owner-lessor and the above person (son, mother, etc.)
  • the restrictions and exceptions apply in certain circumstances where the lessee or the lessee’s spouse is 70 years of age or over (see the heading Prohibition against repossessing a dwelling).

Compulsory notification deadlines

The notice of repossession of a dwelling must be remitted to the lessee by the following deadlines4:

Lease of more than 6 months

Stage 1
Notice by
owner-lessor

Stage 2
Lessee's reply

Stage 3
Application to the Régie
by the owner-lessor

6 months before
termination of
the lease

Within 1 month after receiving of the owner-lessor's notice.

If the lessee fails to reply, he or she is deemed to have refused to vacate the dwelling.

Within 1 month after the refusal or the expiry of the period granted to the lessee to reply.

Lease of 6 months or less

Stage 1
Notice by
owner-lessor

Stage 2
Lessee's reply

Stage 3
Application to the Régie
by the owner-lessor

1 month before
the end of
the lease

Within 1 month after receiving of the owner-lessor's notice.

If the lessee fails to reply, he or she is deemed to have refused to vacate the dwelling.

Within 1 month after the refusal or the expiry of the period granted to the lessee to reply

Lease with an indeterminate term

Stage 1
Notice by
owner-lessor

Stage 2
Lessee's reply

Stage 3
Application to the Régie
by the owner-lessor

6 months before
the intended date
of repossession

Within 1 month after receiving of the owner-lessor's notice.

If the lessee fails to reply, he or she is deemed to have refused to vacate the dwelling.

Within 1 month after the refusal or the expiry of the period granted to the lessee to reply

The lessee's reply

After receiving the notice of repossession, the lessee has one month in which to reply to it. The lessee can agree or refuse to vacate the dwelling.

It is preferable to reply to the notice in writing.

If the lessee does not reply to the owner-lessor's notice of repossession within one month, the lessee is deemed to have refused to vacate the dwelling, and it is up to the owner-lessor to apply to the tribunal for authorization to retake possession of the dwelling. If the owner-lessor does not do so, the lessee is entitled to remain in the dwelling.

Deadline for filing an application for repossession with the Régie du logement

  • If the lessee gives written notification of his or her refusal, the owner-lessor's application must be filed with the Régie du logement within one month after receipt of the refusal.
  • If the lessee does not reply, the application must be filed within one month after the expiry of the deadline for the lessee's reply.

The hearing and the evidence

The owner-lessor has the burden of proving, before the tribunal, that he or she truly intends to repossess the dwelling for the purpose mentioned in the notice and not as a pretext for other purposes.

If the owner-lessor is not retaking possession of the dwelling to live in it personally, the person the owner-lessor wants to have live in the dwelling is generally required to testify at the hearing.

The decision of the tribunal

If the tribunal authorizes repossession of the dwelling, it can impose conditions it considers just and reasonable, including payment of an indemnity equivalent to the lessee's moving expenses. At the lessee's request, the tribunal can also allow repossession to take place at a later date.

If the tribunal refuses the owner-lessor's application for repossession of the dwelling, the owner-lessor has one month, as of the final decision, to apply for the fixing of the rent.

What happens if…

…another of the owner-lessor's dwellings becomes available?

Following a notice of repossession, another of the owner-lessor's dwellings may become vacant or available for lease on the date fixed for the repossession.

If the dwelling is of the same type, at an equivalent rent and situated in the same neighbourhood as the one sought by the owner-lessor, the latter must occupy that dwelling rather than continue the repossession process, unless otherwise agreed with the lessee.

…the owner-lessor no longer wants to repossess the dwelling?

If the dwelling is not repossessed on the date fixed, and if the lessee continues to occupy it with the owner-lessor's consent, the lease is automatically renewed. The owner-lessor then has one month after the date fixed for repossession to apply to the Régie to fix the rent.

…the owner-lessor wants to lease the dwelling after having retaken possession of it?

If the owner-lessor wants to lease the dwelling again or use it for a purpose other than that which led to the repossession, regardless of how many months or years later, the owner-lessor must apply for authorization from the tribunal, which, if it grants authorization, will then fix the new rent.

…repossession seems to have been in bad faith?

If, after vacating the dwelling, the lessee notes that it is not being used for the purpose set forth in the owner-lessor's application and the lessee can prove that the owner-lessor proceeded with repossession in bad faith, the lessee can claim damages from the owner-lessor for the material and moral prejudice suffered, as well as punitive damages.

Repossession of a dwelling and divided co-ownership (condominium)

An owner who intends to convert his or her immovable to divided co-ownership, commonly called a “condominium”, with a view to subsequently selling the dwellings to third parties must, before taking any steps, give each lessee a notice of intent to convert the immovable.

Once the notice of intent has been given, neither the current owner nor a subsequent purchaser of the dwelling after it has been converted to co-ownership may repossess it, barring rare exceptions.

Thus, any lessee or assignee in place at the time the notice of intent is sent, or any new lessee whose lease begins prior to the date of the decision by the Régie du logement authorizing the conversion, has the right to remain on the premises as long as he or she wishes, provided he or she complies with the conditions of the lease.

Immovable held in undivided co-ownership

An immovable is said to be in “undivided co-ownership” if it belongs to two or more people who each own an undivided (undefined) share of the whole immovable.

For example, Claire, Saïda and Carol-Ann each own an undivided 1/3 share of an immovable, but none of them has her own apartment. Such a co-owner cannot repossess a dwelling unless he or she is a co-owner with only one other person who is his or her spouse5 , or if he or she has acquired rights (see below).

Immovable acquired before 1988: acquired rights

1) If you have undivided co-ownership of an immovable with no more than four dwellings, you may repossess the dwelling, where:

  • your title of ownership was registered before November 10, 1987;
  • on November 10, 1987, you were signatory to a promise to purchase accompanied by a down payment, provided your title of co-ownership was registered before July 15, 1988.

2) If you have undivided co-ownership of an immovable with five or more dwellings, you may repossess the dwelling, where:

  • your title of ownership was registered before June 11, 1981;
  • on June 11, 1981, you were signatory to a promise to purchase accompanied by a down payment, provided your title of co-ownership was registered before December 16, 1981.

1. Spouses are people bound by marriage or a civil union, and de facto spouses.
2. Such a person is a relative of the spouse (by marriage or civil union) of the owner-lessor, for example, the owner-lessor's mother-in-law, sister-in-law or son-in-law.
3. This does not apply to former de facto spouses.
4. The owner-lessor must use a means by which the date on which notification was made to, and received by, the lessee can be proven to the tribunal. Such means include by bailiff, by registered mail or in person, with a witness.
5. Spouses are people bound by marriage or a civil union, and de facto spouses.