Terminating the lease in the case of an elderly person

Article locked Published on by Me Annie Lapointe

Topic(s): Legal

Sometimes one begins a lease, and one has to put an end to it for different reasons in life. The tenant then has different options available to him in order to comply with his contract, namely the assignment of his lease or sublease of his dwelling, and in most cases he cannot put an end to his contract without the landlord’s authorization.

There are various exceptions allowing the tenant to terminate his contract prematurely, and leaving for a seniors’ home is part of it. However, it is not a question of just any residence in any kind of situation. It must be a residential and long-term care centre, an intermediate resource service, or a private residence for seniors where nursing or personal assistance are provided in view of his health situation, or any other place of accommodation where such care or services are offered to him (1).

Thus, even if an elder is on a waiting list and is given an opportunity, in the middle of his lease, to go to an elderly residence but where no care is given to the person necessary for his state of health, then the lease must be respected until its end. If the conditions are not fulfilled and the tenant leaves anyway, then he/she will be considered as having left the housing illegally (i.e. without right) and he will have to pay the damages suffered by the owner until his housing has been re-let.

In cases therefore, where the tenant must leave because of his state of health, the law allows him to give a notice of 2 months to the landlord if his original lease is for 12 months or more.

This notice must be accompanied by a certificate from the authority concerned, to which is attached the certificate of an authorized person certifying that the conditions which require admission are fulfilled. But what does that mean? There will therefore be a certificate confirming the admission of the person, and a “certificate from an authorized person (a health and social services professional working in a CLSC, a CHSLD, a hospital centre or a private practice, such as a physician, a social worker, a male or female nurse, etc.) confirming that the elderly person meets the eligibility requirements” (2).

A recent judgement confirmed that a letter from the new landlord (of the new residence) confirming the permanent admission of the tenant in their establishment is not sufficient to fulfill all the conditions stipulated in the law. It is, however, only a part of the necessary documentation (3).

If, upon receipt of such a notice, you find that a document is missing, it is important to let the tenant know about this. The Régie du logement has already refused a complaint from the landlord on the grounds that he did not give notice of his refusal within a reasonable time. This was another case in which the tenant sent a two months’ notice to terminate his lease with, once again, only the letter of the new residence to the effect that the tenant was admitted and acknowledging the services offered. The landlord refused this notice, but did not declare it until the tenant’s departure date. The judge acknowledged that the tenant should have accompanied his or her notice with a certificate from an authorized person certifying that the conditions requiring admission were met (medical or other as described above). On the other hand, he also recalled the obligation to behave according to the requirements of good faith. The judge was therefore of the opinion that “the landlord should have given notice to the tenant that her notice was incomplete so that she could have remedied the default” (4) and not wait until the day she left to do so, when it was too late for her to rectify anything. The claim was therefore rejected.

(1) Section 1974, Civil Code of Québec.
(2) 2015 QCRDL 12842, 137386 37 20140219 G.
(3) 2017 QCRDL 10167, 37-130423-007 37 20130423 G.
(4) 2015 QCRDL 23552, 157128 23 20140529 G.

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