Does a lease automatically renew?
According to article 1941 of the Civil Code of Quebec, a lease of a dwelling is automatically renewed **under the same conditions and for the same term **when it ends. This principle applies to leases for a fixed term of 30 days or more. Note that short-term leases are not subject to the regulations of a long-term lease.
The renewal of the lease only concerns the tenant and not the subtenant. In fact, it is the person who signed the lease who benefits from this privilege. The renewal of the lease comes from the right to maintain the premises recognized by the Civil Code of Quebec. It is impossible for the tenant to renounce this right even if, for example, the clause in a lease provides for its non-renewal. This clause is without effect, even if it was included with the tenant’s consent.
In Quebec, the lease is automatically renewed if neither the tenant and the landlord send any notice to the other party.
Let’s explain in detail the automatic renewal of the lease.
What is a residential lease?
The lease of a dwelling is a rental contract between the landlord and the tenant. It is defined in article 1851 C.C.Q. as a contract of lease by which the landlord undertakes to provide the tenant with the enjoyment of movable or immovable property for a certain period of time in return for rent. It also states that the lease may be for a fixed or indeterminate term.
Since it is a contract, each party must respect its respective commitments and comply with the legal obligations set out in the law. For example, the tenant must, during the course of the lease, comply with certain obligations, such as:
- Pay the rent on the agreed date (art. 1855 C.c.Q.).
- Use the dwelling with prudence and diligence (art. 1855 C.c.Q.).
- Not to change the form or destination of the dwelling (art. 1856 C.c.Q.).
- Keep the dwelling in a good state of cleanliness (art. 1911 C.c.Q.).
- Conduct himself in such a way as not to disturb the normal enjoyment of the other tenants or the landlord (art. 1860 C.c.Q.).
Regarding the landlord’s obligations, here are some examples:
- Provide the tenant with peaceful enjoyment of the dwelling (art. 1851 C.c.Q.).
- Maintain the dwelling in a good state of habitability (art. 1910 C.c.Q.).
- Carry out all necessary repairs, except those that are the responsibility of the tenant (art. 1864 C.c.Q.).
Did you know that it is not only the rental of a traditional apartment that can lead to the conclusion of a** lease**? A person also signs a lease when renting a room, a mobile home, or land intended for a mobile home.
According to article 1892 C.C.Q., it should be noted that the rules specific to the lease of housing do not apply to :
- The lease of a hotel room.
- The lease of a room in a health or social services establishment.
- A lease of a room in the landlord’s residence, if the landlord is not renting more than two rooms and the room does not have a bathroom or separate exit door.
- The lease of a dwelling unit rented for vacation purposes.
- The lease of a dwelling unit where more than one-third of the unit is used for purposes other than living.
The form of the housing lease
Regardless of the type of rental residence (room, apartment, condominium or house), you must absolutely use the lease form created by the Tribunal administratif du logement. Since September 1, 1996, this form is mandatory and must be completed by both parties to the rental agreement.
It is also required to attach the by-laws of the building to the lease. According to article 1897 C.C.Q., the lease and the by-laws must be written in French unless the parties agree to use another language. English models are available on platforms such as Bloc Solutions.
Sometimes you may have a verbal lease with your tenant. Be aware that you have a valid contract even if your tenant has not signed a lease.
The lease and building rules must be written in French. However, the landlord and tenant may agree to use another language.
The content of the lease
A lease agreement contains a lot of information about the landlord and the tenant. For example, here is the main information that should be included in a lease agreement:
- Contact information for the tenant and the landlord
- Description and destination of the rented dwelling, accessories and outbuildings
- Duration of the lease
- Amount of rent
- Inclusions and conditions
- Notice to the new tenant or subtenant
Once the lease has been signed by both parties, a copy is given to the tenant and the landlord keeps a signed copy.
It is also important to attach the building’s rules and regulations to the lease, which deal mainly with the peaceful enjoyment of the premises, the use and maintenance of the dwelling and common areas, if applicable.
The lease renewal
As mentioned above, the lease of a dwelling is automatically renewed once it has expired. The landlord cannot refuse to renew the lease under any circumstances since the tenant has this right by law. The landlord must comply with the legal requirements regarding the automatic renewal of the lease. The landlord cannot change the rent or other terms of the lease at will. This must be done within a certain framework and within a specific time slot.
Depending on the length of the lease, there is no set date for renewal. If the landlord wishes to change the terms of the lease, he or she must do so in a renewal notice reserved for this purpose and according to the deadlines indicated in the Civil Code of Quebec.
The renewal notice
If the landlord wishes to increase the rent, he must do so in a renewal notice that he must send to his tenant. The landlord must then clearly mention :
- The proposed changes, whether they concern the rent or any other condition (for example, the elimination of the use of an outdoor yard).
- The rent increase, indicating either the proposed new rent in dollars, or the increase in dollars or as a percentage of the current rent.
- The period of time the tenant has to refuse the proposed changes, which is one month from the date of receipt of the notice.
- The notice must be signed and dated by the landlord or the landlord’s agent before it is sent, whether by registered mail, hand delivery or any other means that provides valid proof of receipt.
The time limits for mailing vary depending on the type of lease. For example, the renewal notice for a lease of 12 months or more must be sent 3 to 6 months before the end of the lease. Please note that sending the renewal notice via the Bloc Solutions platform is fully compliant with the requirements and criteria set forth by the Tribunal administratif du logement.
Upon receipt of this notice, the tenant has the choice of 3 response options:
- Accept the lease renewal with its modifications.
- Not renew the lease and leave the unit at the end of the lease.
- Refuse the proposed changes and renew the lease.
Non-renewal of the lease by the tenant
When the tenant receives the renewal notice from his landlord, he has one month to respond. Note that if the tenant does not respond within one month, he or she is supposed to have accepted the renewal of the lease with the new changes set out in the notice.
It should be noted that the tenant has the option of not renewing his fixed-term lease by completing a notice to that effect. The tenant must simply give the notice to the landlord within the time limits set out in the law.
- If the tenant does not receive any notice from the landlord, the lease will be automatically renewed under the same conditions.
- If the tenant wishes to leave the dwelling and has not received a renewal notice, he must absolutely notify his landlord of his departure.
The non-renewal of the lease by the landlord
In Quebec, the landlord can decide to take back the dwelling from a tenant, but only in certain specific situations set out in the law, namely:
- Live in it himself.
- House his children or his parents.
- House his or her spouse, from whom he or she is separated or divorced, but for whom he or she remains the main breadwinner.
- House any other relative or ally of whom he/she is the main support.
Written notice must be given 6 months prior to the date set for repossession.
A landlord may also evict a tenant and require the tenant to leave the unit in the following two situations:
- Subdivision, substantial enlargement or change of use of the unit.
- Major renovations to the unit that will make it uninhabitable for the duration of the work.
A written notice is also required in these situations and must be sent 6 months before the date set for the work. However, if no evacuation is necessary and the work does not exceed one week, the landlord can send a notice of only 10 days.
Did you know that it is impossible for a landlord to repossess a unit or evict a tenant if the tenant is 70 years of age or older, has lived in the unit for 10 years or more, and has an annual income that qualifies him or her for low-income housing?
If the tenant or spouse meets these criteria, the landlord cannot evict or repossess the unit.
However, please note that certain exceptions apply and are detailed in article 1959.1 C.c.Q.
Can the landlord send a renewal notice without amendment?
The law requires a renewal notice to be sent when there are changes to the terms of the lease. If the landlord does not want to change the terms of the lease, he or she does not have to send such a notice. The landlord can simply send a letter to the tenant asking if he or she wants to stay another year or not. This document is not a renewal notice under the law, so the tenant is not required to respond within a specific time frame.
As mentioned, the renewal of a lease for a fixed term of 30 days or more is automatic. This means that the lease is renewed on the same terms and for the same duration. The landlord must specifically record changes to the lease in a renewal notice if he or she wishes to increase the rent, for example. The automatic renewal of the lease is therefore an important principle to remember whether you are a tenant or a landlord!