The tenant sues the landlord for damages with interest and punitive damages with interest as a result of eviction in bad faith by the landlo

Article locked Published on by Me Robert Soucy

Topic(s): Legal

The recourse launched by the former tenant is based on Section 1968 of the Civil Code of Québec:

“The lessee may recover damages resulting from repossession or eviction in bad faith, whether or not he has consented to it. He may also apply for punitive damages against the person who has repossessed the dwelling or evicted him in bad faith.”

The total amount claimed is $19,516.50. The evidence shows that the parties were bound by a lease from July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005 at a monthly rent of $363.00. The dwelling is a three and a half room apartment located in a 16-unit building. On December 21, 2004, the tenant received an eviction notice from the landlord for June 30, 2005, because his dwelling had to be enlarged together with the neighbouring dwelling. On January 10, 2005, the tenant replied to the landlord’s eviction notice and refused to leave his dwelling but neglected to oppose the enlargement of his dwelling, as provided by the Civil Code of Québec:

Sect. 1966: Within one month after receiving the notice of eviction, the lessee may apply to the court to object to the subdivision, enlargement or change of destination of the dwelling; otherwise, he is deemed to have consented to vacate the premises…

The legal process of the tenant

On January 10, 2005, the landlord informed the tenant that he still intended to expand the apartment and that he would have to vacate the dwelling by June 30, 2005.

On February 14, 2005, the landlord, following an advertisement in the newspaper, received a response from three nurses interested in the housing. On March 3, 2005, in the belief that the tenant could no longer oppose such an extension, the landlord signed a lease from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006 at a monthly rent of $1,212. Previously, a transformation permit was issued by the City of Montréal to merge two units into one, including the tenant’s one.

On February 11, 2005, the tenant, along with other tenants of the same building, filed a request to extend the one-month period provided for in section 1966 of the C.c.Q., under section 59 of the Act respecting the Régie du logement: “Sect. 59. The board may, for reasonable cause and on appropriate conditions, extend a time limit or release a party from the consequences of his failure to comply with it, provided that no serious prejudice can result thereby to the other party.”

Two hearings were required and on May 24, 2005, the Court accepted the tenant’s request and extended the time to allow the tenant to oppose the extension while urgently requesting that the parties be heard on the original request of the landlord.

The delays caused by the decision

On July 20, 2005, following a hearing held on July 13, 2005, a decision of the Régie was rendered which allowed the tenant to be expelled for the purpose of the expansion and it ordered the tenant to vacate the dwelling on August 31, 2005 at midnight. On August 1, 2005, the nurses who were the tenants of the new enlarged dwelling, not having moved in on July 1, 2005 as provided for by the lease signed on March 3, 2005, claim a total of $4207 in damages, stress and inconvenience. An agreement was reached on July 29, 2008: the landlord paid an amount of $4,000.00 to the tenants.



Unfortunate consequences for the landlord

In the meantime, in spite of a published advertisement, the landlord receives only one call and is confronted with several empty dwellings with no rental in sight for the tenant’s enlarged dwelling. Not being able to rent the enlarged accommodation, the landlord then decides to rent his apartments, including the one of the tenant, without extending the latter. After renovations to the concerned housing, he leases the apartment at $547.00 from January 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007.

Circumstances beyond the control of the landlord

The Régie du logement finds that the eviction was done in good faith and that it was because of circumstances beyond the control of the landlord that the tenant’s housing expansion with the neighbouring dwelling was not carried out. The legal pitfalls caused unwittingly by the tenant himself pushed the landlord to its extreme limits. According to the Court, the landlord did everything possible to proceed as planned on the extension, even requesting an emergency hearing from the vice-president of the Régie du logement.

All of these delays resulted in not only that the nurses who agreed to rent such extended accommodation could not move into their dwelling on the agreed date, but they also sued the landlord for damages, which led to an out-of-court settlement whereby the landlord had to pay $4,000.00 in damages. Tired and profoundly shaken financially by all of this the landlord chose to rent out the old unfinished dwellings in order to reduce his losses.

The landlord may, however, be criticized for not having sought authorization to re-let the dwelling as required by section 1970 of the Civil Code of Québec. Failure to make such a request may affect the credibility of a landlord, but the penalty for this argument is not to automatically give rise to recovery of punitive damages. The Régie du logement had been convinced that the landlord had always been in good faith throughout this saga from beginning to end:

There is no bad faith if the landlord does not take possession of the premises because of an unforeseen event such as a delayed marriage for instance because the future spouse has become unemployed or because of the fact that the dwelling was too dilapidated after the departure of the ousted tenant. (1)

The Régie finally concluded that:

The evidence reveals that significant events outside of the landlord’s control substantially changed the landlord’s situation who had lost his potential tenants from the extended dwelling and, moreover, had to pay a sum in damages with interest to the latter. (2)

The Régie dismissed the tenant’s claim for damages with interest.

1. Sauvé v. Sousa 31-040820-005G;
2. Abdesslam v. Gelly 2011 QCRDL 25979

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