Lessor’s right to terminate a lease

Repossessing a dwelling

Download the PDF: Notice of repossession

Download the PDF: Response to a notice of repossession

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

However, there are exceptions to this rule, and the repossession of a dwelling is one of them.

Who can repossess a dwelling?

If a lessor is the owner of a building, they can repossess one of the dwellings in it.

A co-owner of a building held in undivided co-ownership can also repossess a dwelling, as long as there is only one other co-owner, and that co owner is their spouse1.

In any other case, undivided co-owners cannot repossess a dwelling, except for the two exceptions mentioned at the end of this section.

If the building is sold, the new owner is responsible for the repossession once the building sale is finalized, not once a promise to purchase is signed.

Who can the owner repossess a dwelling for?

  • Themselves
  • Their parent or child
  • Any other relative2 or person connected by marriage or civil union if the owner is their main source of moral or material support
  • A former spouse if the owner remains their main source of moral or material support following their legal separation (resulting from a judgment), their divorce or the dissolution of their civil union3

When a dwelling cannot be repossessed

Notwithstanding the above, an owner 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 is 70 years of age or over and wishes to occupy the dwelling.
  • The beneficiary of the repossession is 70 years of age or over.
  • The owner is 70 years of age or over and wishes to have a beneficiary less than 70 years of age reside in the same building as themselves.

Mandatory notice

The owner (lessor) must send the lessee written notice of their intent to repossess the dwelling. The notice must include the following information:

  • The anticipated date of repossession (generally the end of the lease)
  • The full name of the person who is to live in the dwelling
  • The degree of relationship or the bond between this person and the lessor (son, mother, etc.)
  • The restrictions or exceptions that apply in certain circumstances where the lessee or their spouse is 70 years of age or over (see the heading When a dwelling cannot be repossessed).

Mandatory notice deadlines

The notice of repossession must be given to the lessee by the deadlines in the following tables4:

Lease of more than 6 months

Step 1
Lessor gives notice

Step 2
Lessee responds

Step 3
Lessor applies to the Tribunal administratif du logement

6 months before
the end of
the lease

Within 1 month of receiving the lessor’s notice.

If the lessee does not respond, they are presumed to have refused to vacate the dwelling.

Within 1 month of the lessee’s refusal or the expiry of the deadline for the lessee to respond

Lease of 6 months or less

Step 1
Lessor gives notice

Step 2
Lessee responds

Step 3
Lessor applies to the Tribunal administratif du logement

1 month before
the end of
the lease

Within 1 month of receiving the lessor’s notice.

If the lessee does not respond, they are presumed to have refused to vacate the dwelling.

Within 1 month of the lessee’s refusal or the expiry of the deadline for the lessee to respond

Lease with an indeterminate term

Step 1
Lessor gives notice

Step 2
Lessee responds

Step 3
Lessor applies to the Tribunal administratif du logement

6 months before the
anticipated date
of repossession

Within 1 month of receiving the lessor’s notice.

If the lessee does not respond, they are presumed to have refused to vacate the dwelling.

Within 1 month of the lessee’s refusal or the expiry of the deadline for the lessee to respond

Lessee’s response

Once the lessee receives the notice of repossession, they have one month to respond. They may agree or refuse to vacate the dwelling.

Preferably, their response to the notice should be given in writing. A response template is available on the Tribunal’s website or from your local Tribunal office.

If the lessee does not respond to the lessor’s notice of repossession within one month, they are presumed to have refused to vacate the dwelling, at which point the lessor can apply to the Tribunal for authorization to repossess the dwelling. If the lessor does not do so, the lessee can stay in the dwelling.

Deadline to file an application for repossession with the Tribunal administratif du logement

  • If the lessee gives written notification of their refusal, the lessor’s application must be filed with the Tribunal administratif du logement within one month of their receiving the refusal.
  • If the lessee does not respond, the application must be filed within one month of the expiry of the deadline for the lessee to respond.

The hearing and evidence

The lessor has the burden of proving to the Tribunal that they truly intend to repossess the dwelling for the purpose mentioned in the notice and that the repossession is not a pretext for other purposes.

If the lessor is repossessing the dwelling for someone other than themselves, that person is generally required to testify at the hearing.

The Tribunal’s decision

If the Tribunal authorizes the repossession of the dwelling, it may impose any conditions it considers just and reasonable, including payment of compensation equivalent to the lessee’s moving expenses. The lessee may also apply to the Tribunal to have the repossession take place at a later date.

If the Tribunal refuses the lessor’s application for repossession, the lessor has one month from the final decision to apply to the Tribunal to fix the rent.

What happens if…

…one of the lessor’s other dwellings becomes available?

After the lessor issues a notice of repossession, one of their other dwellings may become vacant or available for rent on the anticipated date of repossession.

If the newly available dwelling is of the same type, at an equivalent rent and situated in the same neighbourhood as the one that the lessor wishes to repossess, the lessor must occupy that dwelling rather than continue the repossession process, unless otherwise agreed with the lessee.

…the lessor no longer wants to repossess the dwelling?

If the dwelling is not repossessed on the anticipated date and the lessee continues to occupy the dwelling with the lessor’s consent, the lease is automatically renewed. In that case, the lessor has one month from the date requested for repossession to apply to the Tribunal to fix the rent.

…the lessor wants to rent the dwelling out again after repossession?

If the lessor wants to rent the dwelling out again or use it for a purpose other than that which led to the repossession, regardless of how many months or years have passed, they must apply for authorization from the Tribunal, which, if it grants authorization, will then fix the new rent.

…the repossession seems to have been in bad faith?

If, after vacating the dwelling, the lessee finds that the dwelling is not being used for the purpose that the lessor stated, and they can prove that the lessor proceeded with the repossession in bad faith, they can claim damages from the lessor for the moral and material harm they suffered, as well as punitive damages.

Repossession and divided co-ownership (condos)

If the owner of a building intends to convert it into a building held in divided co ownership (commonly referred to as a “condominium”) so they can then sell the dwellings to third parties, before they do anything, they must give each of the affected lessees a notice of intent to convert the building.

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

Thus, any lessee or assignee occupying the dwelling at the time the notice of intent is sent, or any new lessee whose lease begins prior to the date of the Tribunal administratif du logement’s decision authorizing the conversion, has the right to maintain occupancy for as long as they wish, provided that they comply with the conditions of their lease.

Building held in undivided co-ownership

A building is considered to be held in “undivided co ownership” if it belongs to two or more people who each own an undivided (undefined) share of the whole building.

For example: Claire, Saïda and Carol Ann each own an undivided one-third share of a building, but none of them has their own apartment. As co owners, they cannot repossess a dwelling unless they are co owners with only one other person who is their spouse5, or if they have acquired rights (see below).

Building purchased before 1988: acquired rights

1) If you have undivided co ownership of a building with no more than four dwellings, you may repossess one of the dwellings if either of the following is true:

  • Your title of ownership was registered before November 10, 1987.
  • As at November 10, 1987, you had signed a promise to purchase accompanied by a down payment, provided that your title of ownership was registered before July 15, 1988.

2) If you have undivided co ownership of a building with five or more dwellings, you may repossess one of the dwellings if either of the following is true:

  • Your title of ownership was registered before June 11, 1981.
  • As at June 11, 1981, you had signed a promise to purchase accompanied by a down payment, provided that your title of ownership was registered before December 16, 1981.

1. The word “spouse” means a married or civil union spouse. Co-owners who are de facto spouses can also repossess a dwelling.
2. Such a person is a relative of the spouse (by marriage or civil union) of the owner, for example the lessor’s mother-in-law, sister-in-law or son-in-law.
3. This does not apply to former de facto spouses.
4. The lessor must use a means by which the date that the lessee was served and received the notice can be proven to the Tribunal. Such means include by bailiff, by registered mail, and in person with a confirmation of receipt.
5. The word “spouse” means a married or civil union spouse and includes a de facto spouse.