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Lease renewal : what you need to know

Lease renewal - Courtiers immobiliers Montréal

Lease renewal : the important points

As the deadline for lease renewal approaches, it is appropriate to point out a few details of the law governing the conditions of the lease.

In a residential context, whether by an individual or through a real estate broker, the lease is a written contract that defines the terms and conditions of the rental of a property (apartment, condo, house) between an owner (landlord) and a tenant. It is therefore binding on both parties and the terms must be respected.

Thus, if a landlord wishes to make changes to the lease, certain rules must be respected within the legal framework of the Tribunal Administratif du Logement (TAL).

Our real estate brokers have taken their pen to enlighten you on the subject.

What is a lease renewal ?

A lease renewal, commonly referred to as a lease rollover, occurs automatically without the landlord or tenant having to exchange any notice. However, it is different if the landlord decides to change the terms of the lease or increase the rent.

In this case, the landlord must respect certain deadlines, depending on the length of the current lease.

See the table below for the deadlines.

Lenght of the leaseTime limit for the notice of renewal of the lease
12 months or more3 to 6 months before the end date of the lease
Less than 12 months1 to 2 months before the end date of the lease
Indefinite term1 to 2 months before the desired modification date

Considering that in Quebec the majority of leases end on June 30th and start on July 1st, some tenants have already received notices since January 1st, since the landlords have until March 31st to manifest themselves.

The contents of a notice of lease renewal and the tenant's options

The notice must be in writing and clearly state the proposed changes to the renewal of the lease, whether it is the rent or other terms of the lease, such as the term of the lease or the removal of the right to use the yard or parking lot.

The notice must also state the time limit for the tenant to refuse the requested changes, which is 1 month from the date of receipt of the notice. The notice must be dated and signed by the landlord.

In the case of a rent increase, the law allows the landlord to choose among three formulations: the proposed new rent in dollars, the increase in dollars or the percentage of the current rent.

Following receipt of this notice, the tenant has several options available to him or her:

– Accept the new agreement.
– Refuse the changes.
– Do not renew and vacate the unit at the end of the lease.

If the tenant does not respond to the notice, the law considers the changes to be accepted.

The right to maintain the premises

The right to maintain the premises is the law that establishes that a tenant may remain in his or her dwelling as long as he or she wishes; however, he or she must respect all the conditions of his or her current lease. This law allows the tenant to refuse the changes required by the landlord and still remain in the unit.

If the tenant decides to refuse the changes proposed by the landlord, he or she must respond to the notice by clearly indicating this. The same applies if the tenant wishes to leave the unit at the end of the lease. If the tenant refuses, the landlord has the right to request a hearing at the Tribunal Administratif du Logement in order to counter this refusal.

Rent Setting in the Tribunal Administratif du Logement

In the case of a dispute over proposed changes, the tenant and landlord can meet to try to reach an amicable compromise. However, the landlord may also apply to the Tribunal Administratif du Logement (TAL) to set the rent or to have the TAL rule on the disputed change. The landlord has one month after receiving notice of the tenant’s refusal to apply to the TAL to set the rent. If the landlord does not do so, the lease will be renewed under the same conditions as before.

The TAL will then determine the appropriate rent amount, taking into account the standards set out in the Rent Determination Regulation. In accordance with the regulation, the TAL will take into consideration various operating expenses such as municipal and school taxes, insurance premiums, electricity and gas costs, maintenance expenses, and repairs and improvements made to the unit. All of these expenses allow the TAL to adjust the rent in a fair and equitable manner.

In this case, it is the landlord’s responsibility to provide supporting documentation to the TAL to substantiate the expenses that justify a rent increase.

Repossession of a dwelling by a landlord

There is only one exception to the right to maintain a dwelling: repossession by the owner.
A landlord may take back one of his dwellings to house himself, his children, parents or any other relative or ally of whom he is the main breadwinner. They may also take back a unit to house a spouse for whom they remain the primary supporter after separation, divorce or dissolution of a civil union.

In order to take over a dwelling, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing and respect certain deadlines depending on the length of the current lease. In the case of a lease of more than 6 months, the landlord must send a notice to the tenant 6 months before the end of the lease. In all cases, the repossession is only effective at the end of the lease. If the tenant does not respond, it is considered a refusal to vacate the unit, so the landlord must apply to the TAL within one month of the refusal or expiration of the tenant’s response time to request repossession of the unit.

The landlord may therefore repossess his or her unit through this process EXCEPT if the tenant is a person over 70 years of age, has been occupying the property for more than 10 years, and has an income at or below the maximum income eligibility for low-income housing. The exception to this is if the owner is himself a person over 70 years old, wishing to take over his property to house himself or a person of that age.

You are an owner or a tenant ? Contact our real estate brokers to enlighten you on the subject.

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