Tenants are entitled to stay in their apartments as long as they respect the lease. But in some specific situations, the owner of the residential building can repossess (take back) the apartment or evict the tenant.
Who can repossess (take back) an apartment?
When the owner of a residential building takes back a rental unit, this is called repossessing.
But only an owner who is an individual can repossess a tenant’s apartment. If the building is owned by a company, it can’t repossess an apartment. For example, managers of buildings owned by companies can’t repossess an apartment for one of their children.
If the apartment building is owned by more than one person, the owners can’t repossess an apartment unless there are only two owners and they are a couple.
When can an owner repossess a residential rental unit?
Owners can repossess a unit to use it for these purposes:
- a residence for themselves
- a residence for their children or parents
- a residence for a spouse from whom they are separated or divorced, but for whom they are still the main source of support
- a residence for any other relative for whom they are the main source of support. The relative must be related by marriage or civil union, for example, a mother-in-law, sister-in-law or son-in-law.
Can an owner repossess at any time?
No. Unless the tenant agrees, owners can’t repossess the apartment if they own another rental unit of the same type that is vacant or available for rental on the date fixed for repossession.
The other rental unit must be in the same neighbourhood and have a similar rent.
What is eviction and when can a landlord evict a tenant?
Eviction means obliging a tenant to leave.
Unlike repossession, owners can only evict a tenant when they want to divide up the rental unit, demolish it, enlarge it or change what it is used for. For example, an owner might want to turn a residential building into an office building.
If the owner wants to cancel a lease because the tenant doesn’t pay the rent or respect other responsibilities under the lease, this is called resiliation of the lease. It is not the same as eviction and the rules are different.
What are the time limits for sending notices of eviction or repossession?
Owners who wants to evict a tenant or repossess must notify the tenant in writing within these time limits:
- six months before the lease ends, if the lease is for a set length of time over six months
- one month before the lease ends, if the lease is for six months or less
- six months before the date of repossession or eviction for leases without a set length
The notice of repossession of a dwelling (notice model from the Régie du logement) must include this information:
- the date set for repossession
- the name of the beneficiary (the person moving in) and, where applicable, how the landlord and beneficiary are related
As for an eviction notice (notice model from the Régie du logement), it must indicate the reason for the eviction and the date on which it will occur.
Important! The repossession or eviction could happen later if a court sets a later date at the request of the tenant or if the landlord and tenant agree to a different date.
Can a tenant challenge a repossession or eviction?
Within one month of getting the notice, tenants must notify the landlord whether they agree or refuse to leave (model of notice from the Régie du logement). If they don’t do this, they are considered to have refused to leave.
A tenant who doesn’t want to leave can try to reach an agreement with the owner. If there is no agreement, the owner can repossess the dwelling with the authorization of the Régie du logement. To do this, the landlord must apply to the Régie within one month of receiving the tenant’s refusal or at the end of the time limit for reply. At the hearing before the Régie, the owner must demonstrate a real intention to repossess the dwelling for the reasons stated in the notice.
The rules are different for evictions. Tenants have one month from the time they receive the notice of eviction to notify the owner whether they accept or refuse to leave. If they forget to do this, they are assumed to have accepted to leave.
Tenants who refuse to leave can either try to reach an agreement with the owner, or apply to the Régie du logement before the end of the one-month time limit.
So it’s very important for tenants to notify the owner of their refusal and to file an application with the Régie du logement within the time limit. Owners must prove to the Régie du logement that they truly intend to divide, demolish, enlarge or change the use of the apartment, as the law allows.
Added Protection for Low-Income Seniors
An owner is not allowed to evict or repossess an apartment if the tenant or the tenant’s spouse meets these conditions:
Even in this situation, an owner can repossess an apartment in some cases. For example, if an owner is also 70 years old or more, he or she can repossess an apartment to live there. Contact the Régie du logement to learn more.
Do tenants who must leave after a repossession or eviction get compensation (money)?
The owner must pay the tenant both compensation equal to three months’ rent and reasonable moving expenses.
The three-month compensation must be paid when the lease ends. The moving expenses are when the tenant presents supporting documents (receipts, invoices, truck rental contract, etc.).
Tenants who think the compensation should be higher than the amount they received can apply to the Régie du logement to set the amount.
Unless there is an agreement with the landlord, the tenant must apply to the Régie du logement to get compensation for moving costs.
If the Régie authorized the owner to repossess the apartment or evict the tenant, it can also impose conditions, such as obliging the owner to pay moving costs or postponing the date the tenant must leave.
What can a tenant do if the owner acted illegally?
If the eviction or repossession was not done according to the law, tenants can request compensation from the owner, even if they agreed to the repossession or eviction.
Tenants can also apply to the Régie du logement for “punitive damages” against the owner, which means extra money as punishment for acting in bad faith.
Bad faith means that
- that the repossession or eviction was done against the law,
- the owner tried to harm the tenant, or
- the landlord acted in an unreasonable way.
What happens if the eviction or repossession does happen on the scheduled date?
If the tenant continues to live in the apartment without objection from the owner, and the owner doesn’t repossess or evict on the scheduled date, the lease is automatically renewed.
If the Régie refuses the repossession or eviction, the lease continues. And if the Régie makes this decision after the time limit for avoiding renewal or modification of the lease, the lease is automatically renewed.
The owner has one month from the date of the Régie’s decision to ask the Régie to decide on the rent.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.