Leasing one’s house during an extended absence

Article locked Published on by Me Annie Lapointe

Topic(s): Legal

Leasing one’s house during an extended absence

"A tenant will help me getting by until the end of the month and maintain a presence in the apartment until I will return to live at the dwelling when I need it," you may tell yourself. Your neighbour may have done so, or your brother-in-law, during a buffer period when his residence was empty, and the tenant left after a year and he was able to regain possession of his house. One would like this to be as easy as it sounds. In this particular situation your neighbour or your brother-in-law were probably lucky that the tenant left at the end of his lease, quite simply. The situation could have been much different though. We can never stress it enough: the tenant has the right to maintain occupancy of the premises, that is to say, his lease is renewed automatically.

"Even if I write that the lease is for a fixed term of one year only?"

"Even if I write that the lease is not renewable?"

"Even if I send a notice of non-renewal?"

"Even if it is registered in the lease that the tenant agrees to leave at the end of the lease?"

Yes, yes, yes and yes! Whether it be your condo unit or your house, when you sign a lease (or make a verbal agreement) the tenant is entitled to the renewal of the lease by law when the lease ends. Any type of clause which would restrict this right, such as the ideas mentioned above, would be ineffective, as if it was not written.

One still has the right to repossess one’s house to live in there oneself, no?
Yes, under certain conditions, and the process will not always be free of cost and never automatic.

First, it is clearly intended that an owner cannot repossess a dwelling or his house if he is the sole owner, unless the only other owner is his spouse.

You must then send a written notice to your tenant at least six months before the end of the lease if it is a lease of more than six months, or six months before the date of repossession if it is a lease of indefinite duration (an oral lease, for instance). The notice is one month for a lease of six months or less. So, for leases of 12 months ending at the end of June the owner must send his notice at the latest on 31 December.

Caution! The notice must include certain specific elements to be valid.

Then, within one month of receipt of the notice, the tenant must respond to indicate his intention or not to leave the dwelling as requested. If he does not respond he is deemed to have refused.

In the case of a refusal, either explicitly or because of a lack of response, the owner who wishes to repossess his dwelling will have no other choice but to ask the authorization of the Régie du logement to do so, within one month of the refusal by the tenant.

The law provides that the owner must then prove that it is truly his intention to repossess his housing to live there and that it is not a pretext for other purposes. Wanting to sell his condo and therefore empty it before of all tenants, for instance, would be considered a pretext for other purposes. In addition, the court may permit the repossession if the owner has another vacant unit at the desired date for the repossession and which is similar, of equivalent rent and located in the same area.

The law does not assign fixed compensation for repossession, but the court which authorizes repossession can set conditions, including compensation equivalent to moving costs.

Note that it is always possible, with the consent of the tenant, to come to a lease termination agreement at the desired date. You can then negotiate the conditions and put everything in writing, thus avoiding recourse to the courts.

We advise you to weigh the pros and cons of the project when you want to rent a house, a dwelling or a condo when you know that you will need it in the near future.

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