The Dwelling

Major work

You are a lessee, and your lessor wants to carry out some major work1 in your dwelling. You might be worried and wondering what to expect, especially since you will likely have to vacate the dwelling for some time to accommodate the planned work.

You are a lessor, and you are considering carrying out major work in a dwelling. You might be wondering what your limitations are and how you should proceed in order to both get the work done and maintain a good lessor/lessee relationship.

This section is designed to provide both of you with the information you need.


“Major work” refers to substantial improvements or repairs to a dwelling, such as renovating the bathroom or kitchen. In general, this is work that increases the value of the dwelling and improves the quality of life of its occupants.

The lessor’s rights

A lessor has the right to make major improvements and repairs to a dwelling during the term of its lease, as long as the work and the conditions under which it is done are reasonable. However, they cannot change the form or destination of the leased dwelling, such as by converting it into commercial property.

Before they can carry out this type of work, the lessor must comply with the formalities set out in the law, as summarized below.

The lessor’s obligations

  1. The lessor must give the lessee 10 days’ notice prior to the start of work, so long as the lessee does not need to vacate the premises or does not need to do so for more than a week.

    If the dwelling must be vacated for more than a week, at least three months’ notice is required.

  2. The lessor cannot raise the rent on the dwelling during the term of the lease because of major work they have done. However, they may do so at the end of the lease, provided notice is given in accordance with the law.

    The lessor also cannot change any other conditions in the lease during the term of the lease. For example, if the lessor has always assumed the heating costs for the dwelling, the lessor must continue to assume the heating costs until the lease ends, even if the repairs involved replacing the oil furnace that used to heat the entire building with a new system that heats the dwelling individually.

  3. Once the work is completed, the lessor must return the dwelling to the lessee in clean condition.

Contents of the notice

The lessor’s notice must not only be given within the time limits specified by law, it must also include the following information:

  • The type of work to be done (e.g., redoing the entire electrical system)
  • The starting date of the work and an estimate of how long it will take
  • Any other conditions under which the work will be done if it is likely to seriously affect the lessee’s enjoyment of the dwelling

Also, if the dwelling must be temporarily vacated, the notice must include:

  • How long the lessee must be gone
  • The amount offered to the lessee as compensation2 to cover the expenses involved in leaving the dwelling (moving costs, storage costs, extra rent paid to stay somewhere else temporarily, etc.)

Temporarily vacating the dwelling

In all cases where the lessee is asked to leave temporarily, they have 10 days after receiving the notice to inform the lessor whether or not they agree to vacate the dwelling. If the lessee does not respond, they are presumed to have refused to leave the premises.

If the lessee refuses to vacate, the lessor may apply to the Tribunal administratif du logement within 10 days of the refusal to have it rule on the advisability of vacating the dwelling and set conditions that it considers just and reasonable.

Abusive conditions

If the lessee is not asked to leave the dwelling or agrees to do so but wishes to contest some of the conditions in the notice, the lessee has 10 days after receiving the notice to ask the Tribunal to change or remove the conditions that they consider abusive.

The hearing

Whenever the lessee or the lessor applies to the Tribunal, all work is immediately suspended unless the Tribunal decides otherwise. These hearings will be given priority by the Tribunal.

At the hearing held by the Tribunal on the conditions of work to be done, the lessor must show that the work and conditions are reasonable and (if applicable) that vacating the dwelling is necessary.

In its decision, the Tribunal may impose conditions that it considers just and reasonable.

Note: The lessee may be entitled to damages if they are required to permanently leave the dwelling following major work, whether they agreed to do so or not, if it becomes apparent that the work was carried out in order to convert the building into a condo and evict the lessee. The lessee may also claim punitive damages.

The lessee’s obligations

The lessee is required to let the lessor or their representative and their workers access the dwelling to carry out major work under the following circumstances:

  • The lessee received the lessor’s notice and did not contest it within the legal time limit.
  • A decision by the Tribunal authorized the work.
  • The lessee has reached an agreement with the lessor.

When it comes to having access to the dwelling in order to carry out major work, all parties involved must use common sense. The lessor must carry out the work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. However, there is nothing preventing the lessor and the lessee from agreeing on different hours if that is in their mutual interest.

The lessee’s rights

Options for recourse before the Tribunal administratif du logement are available to lessees that allow work to be done, whether they were required to vacate the dwelling or not, if the work is not completed within the time allotted or the conditions in the lessor’s notice are not complied with.

The same is true if, once the work is completed, the lessor leaves the dwelling in less than clean condition or any services have been adversely affected.

When the work is done, the lessee pays the same rent. The lessor is not authorized to apply for a rent increase or modify other conditions in the lease until it is renewed.

Public program

No notice is required, and no contestation is allowed if the improvements or repairs made are the subject of an agreement between the lessor and the lessee within the scope of a public housing preservation and restoration program.

In most cases, these are renovation programs where loans and grants are given by a government agency or a municipality.

Even if this agreement specifies the amount of rent to be paid by the lessee, in order to be entitled to a rent increase, the lessor must issue a notice within the time limit specified by law.

1. For information on urgent and necessary repairs, see the section on this subject.
2. This compensation is payable on the date the lessee vacates the premises. If the compensation proves insufficient, the lessee may be reimbursed for any other reasonable expenses incurred.