You've been happily living in your apartment for a while. It's nicely decorated, the rent is reasonable, the surroundings are pleasant and you have no intention of leaving. But one day, the landlord calls to tell you that he plans to repossess your apartment when the lease expires to use it as a residence for himself. You later discover that he really wants it for two of his friends for a few months. Can he force you to leave?
When can a landlord repossess (take back) a residential rental unit?
When a landlord takes back an apartment, this is called repossessing.
A landlord can repossess a unit to use it for these purposes:
- a residence for himself
- a residence for his children or his parents
- a residence for another family member or a person related to the landlord by marriage or civil union, if the landlord is the main source of support for that person. (A person related by marriage or civil union can include a mother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, etc.)
- a residence for a spouse from whom he is separated or divorced, but for whom he is still the main source of support
What is eviction and when can a landlord evict a tenant?
Eviction means obliging a tenant to leave.
Unlike repossession, a landlord can only evict when he wants to divide up the rental unit, demolish it, enlarge it or change what it is used for. For example, a landlord might want to turn a residential building into an office building.
Can the landlord repossess at any time?
No. Unless you agree, the landlord cannot repossess your apartment if he owns 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 are the time limits for sending notices of eviction or repossession?
A landlord 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 6 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 at a later date if a court sets a later date at the request of the tenant of if the landlord and tenant agree on a different date.
Can I challenge a repossession or eviction?
Within one month of getting the notice. you must notify the landlord whether you agree or refuse to leave (model of notice from the Régie du logement). If you do not do this or if you forget to notify the landlord, you are considered to have refused to leave.
If you refuse to leave, you can try to reach an agreement with your landlord. Otherwise, the landlord 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 your refusal or at the end of the time limit for your reply. At the hearing before the Régie, he must demonstrate that he truly intends to repossess the dwelling for the reasons stated in the notice.
The rules are different for evictions. As a tenant, you have one month from the time you receive the notice of eviction to notify the landlord whether you accept or refuse to leave. If you don’t do this, or forget to do it, you are assumed to have accepted to leave.
If you refuse to leave, you can either try to reach an agreement with your landlord, or apply to the Régie du logement before the end of the one-month time limit.
So if you want to refuse the eviction, it is very important to notify your landlord and to file an application with the Régie du logement within the time limit. The landlord must prove to the Régie du logement that he truly intends 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. Contact the Régie du logement to learn more.
Do tenants who have to leave after a repossession or eviction get compensation (money)?
The landlord must pay you 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.).
If you think the compensation should be higher than the amount you received, you can apply to the Régie du logement to have it set the amount.
The tenant must apply to the Régie du logement to get compensation for moving costs.
If the Régie authorized the landlord to respossess the apartment or evict the tenant, it can also impose conditions, such as obliging the landlord to pay moving costs or postponing the date the tenant must leave.
What can I do if the landlord acted illegally?
If the eviction or repossession was not done according to the law, you can request compensation from the landlord, even if you agreed to the repossession or eviction.
You can also apply to the Régie du logement for “punitive damages” against the landlord, 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 landlord tried to harm the tenant, or
- the landlord acted in an unreasonable way.
What happens if the eviction or repossession does not happen on the scheduled date?
If the landlord does not repossess or evict on the scheduled date, the lease is automatically renewed, if you continue to live in the apartment with the landlord’s agreement.
The lease is also renewed if the Régie refuses the repossession or eviction and makes this decision after end of the time limit to avoid renewal or modification of the lease.
The landlord 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.