Non-payment of rent The different procedure and length of processing time at the Régie du logement

Article locked Published on by Me Jean-Olivier Reed

Topic(s): Legal

Note aux lecteurs : Ces articles sont des résumés de décisions rendues dans les affaires citées. Veuillez noter qu'il ne s'agit pas d'une revue de la jurisprudence et que d'autres décisions peuvent être rendues par la suite ou être différentes et changer l'état du droit. C'est également le cas si les faits ne sont pas les mêmes que ceux présentés dans l'affaire mentionnée.

First of all, in Québec it is generally thought that the first and foremost obligation of a tenant is to pay his rent, and the Régie du logement assigns therefore a certain priority to the procedure of evicting a tenant who has not paid his rent and who still remains on the premises. Indeed, Section 1971 of the Civil Code of Québec allows the owner to file a request for termination of lease for non-payment of rent if the tenant is late for more than 3 weeks. The landlord does not, in principle, have the obligation to send a formal notice to the tenant prior to the filing of the request. Indeed, the tenant is automatically in default by the sole effect of the law. Section 1903 of the Civil Code of Québec provides that:

« 1903. The rent agreed upon shall be indicated in the lease.
It is payable in equal instalments, except for the last one, which may be less; it is payable on the first day of each payment period, unless otherwise agreed. »

Once the said request is filed, landlords can expect to be heard, on average, 6 weeks after the opening of the file.

Generally, the landlord does not have an interest in adding to this request other claims regarding other lease obligations that are unrelated to the payment of the rent. Doing so may result in an extension of time to obtain a hearing date.

What happens when the tenant has left? Two situations are possible:
1- You have already made a request for termination of lease for non-payment of rent and the tenant left before the hearing at the Régie du logement; or:
2- The tenant has left without any procedure has been started by the owner.

In the first situation, at the hearing, you can reasonably think that the Judge will be able to notice the termination of the lease following the sudden departure of the tenant, and that he will condemn the tenant to payment of the rents due at the time of his departure.

For non-paid rents after his departure, the owner will have to initiate a separate procedure for damages. Indeed, for instance, following a request made in August 2018, the hearing of which took place on October 13, 2018, if the tenant has left his dwelling during the month of September, the Judge will normally refuse to convict the tenant for the month of October 2018.

Indeed, all rent claims after the departure of the tenant are considered by the Régie du logement as damages that cannot be treated in a request for termination of lease and recovery of rent. This is also the case for situation # 2.

Unfortunately, the priority level for this type of request goes to the other end of the spectrum, which is the least urgent. Owners should expect a period of several months, and even more than a year for this type of file.

Moreover, the departure of the tenant also makes this procedure more laborious. Indeed, the landlord must find the new address of the tenant, in order to send him, by obligation, a formal notice prior to the opening of the file at the Régie du logement and in order to file the procedure after giving a deadline to the tenant to show up. The procedure must be forwarded to him with proof of receipt at this same address.

It is therefore essential to quickly carry out the procedure of non-payment of rent and avoid additional delays that could have adverse consequences on your budget.

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