4 Things to Know When Facing Major Repairs or Renovations

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During the past year, 3% of tenants in Canada experienced an eviction. In Quebec alone, some 45,000 households were evicted. Among the reasons invoked by landlords were major repairs or renovations, often called “renovictions”. 

Although major repairs and renovations make up just 4% of eviction cases, according to recent data from Statistics Canada, these causes of eviction have seen a dramatic rise in some parts of the country. In Hamilton, Ontario, for example, evictions for these reasons rose 983% from 2017 to 2022 (data was not available for other provinces).

According to Statistics Canada, “demand for rentals has far outpaced supply, largely driven by increasing immigration, employment growth, and homeownership costs pushing people towards renting.” So, it may be wise to think twice before deciding to end your lease – especially since this imbalance between demand and supply has led to a decrease in affordable rental housing.

Here are four things to know if you receive a notice of major repairs or renovations from your landlord.

The type of work matters

A landlord cannot evict a tenant simply to do renovations. However, a landlord can evict a tenant to carry out certain major projects. These are:

  • to subdivide the home (for example, by making one 8-room apartment into two 4-room apartments)
  • to demolish the unit (for example, by making a duplex into a single home)
  • to substantially enlarge the unit (for example, by adding another room)
  • to change the use of the unit (for example, by converting an apartment into an office)

Important: some cities and boroughs have adopted regulations prohibiting certain of these projects, such as subdividing units, with some exceptions. Also, a bill introduced in the National Assembly on May 22 could suspend all the above-mentioned projects across the province, if adopted.

Timelines to be respected

If you have a 12-month lease, your landlord must send you the eviction notice at least six months before your renewal date. Otherwise, the lease is automatically renewed. 

If you wish to contest the notice of eviction, you have one month to notify your landlord in writing. If you do not answer, you are considered to have refused to leave your apartment.  

If you refuse, it is up to the landlord to apply to the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL or rental board). The landlord has one month from the date of your refusal to do so.  

The landlord will have to show the TAL that the reasons given for your eviction are genuine and not simply a pretext for evicting you.  

Important: for notices of eviction sent before February 21, 2024, a different rule applied. It was the tenant’s responsibility to apply to the TAL to contest the eviction. The law changed as of February 21, 2024.

You’re entitled to compensation

If you agree to leave your apartment – or you refuse but the TAL allows the work to go ahead – your landlord must pay you an indemnity of three months’ rent. If you have been living in your apartment for more than three years, the landlord must pay you one month of rent for each year you lived in the apartment. For example, if you lived there ten years, the landlord must pay you ten months of rent. However, the maximum indemnity for this is 24 months. This payment is due when you leave your apartment.

The landlord must also pay for reasonable moving expenses, such as buying boxes, renting a truck, switching your internet connection, and having your mail forwarded. You must present receipts for these expenses to the landlord.  

Renovations alone are not a reason for eviction

As mentioned above, renovations – even extensive ones – are not, in themselves a valid reason for evicting a tenant.

If the renovations are such that it is necessary for you to leave your apartment, you have the right to return once the work is done. The landlord must pay for reasonable expenses involved in your temporary move (for example, the difference in rent in your temporary accommodations, the cost of forwarding your mail, the cost of storing or moving your belongings, etc.).