Real estate law, particularly the laws of co-ownership as well as administrative, including transportation law, dominate Michel's practice. He also works in civil and commercial litigation.
Michel has pleaded before all civil courts and several administrative tribunals in Quebec; he has been to the Supreme Court of Canada four times, in particular on the Reference regarding Secession of Quebec and twice, as a lawyer of the Quebec Bar, in cases related to litigation privilege and the unauthorized practice of law.
Afflicted with a health issue, you want to move to an apartment closer to your daughter, which is fitting, given that a unit in her condo building is for sale. However, this unit is rented. During a visit to the premises, the tenant informs you that he has no intention of leaving, claiming a right to stay there for life. At least, for as long as he wants to.
On the other hand, the seller tells you that the tenant will have to leave the unit upon receiving a notice of repossession. Intrigued by the tenant's statement, you take time to interview several people to verify this "lease for a lifetime" matter. The answers provided reassure you: if it is sent six months before the planned repossession date, the notice of repossession should allow you to take back the apartment.
There being no obstacles to the sale, a Promise to Purchase is made and you hire a notary to prepare the Deed of Sale. Obviously, you inform the notary of the tenant’s saying. It does not matter; the notary certifies that there is no such thing as a "life lease"! The Deed of Purchase is therefore signed, after which you send the notice in question within the prescribed time limit. Since the tenant does not respond to this notice within one month of receiving it, he is deemed to have refused to leave the premises and you then file an applicatoin with the Administrative Housing Tribunal to be authorized to force him to leave. The hearing takes place as scheduled, but a few weeks later, you receive a judgment from the administrative tribunal stating you are not allowed to retake possession of the premises.
All the opinions obtained were wrong. Your tenant was right. The building in which your apartment is located was converted to divided co-ownership, even though it has housed at least one rental unit in the 10 years preceding the application for authorization. However, a Declaration of Divided Co-Ownership cannot be registered on a rental building without the Administratieve Housing tribunal having first authorized the owner to proceed with its conversion. The Tribunal's authorization will contain the names of the tenants against whom the repossession can no longer be exercised either by the landlord or by the new purchaser of the dwelling.
In addition, the Declaration of Co-Ownership can only be registered if the authorization of the Tribunal is attached to it. In this specific case, the Act provides protection to tenants to prevent them from being evicted from the dwelling they live in. So they have a "lease for a lifetime", so to speak. It should be noted that the tenant is entitled to remain in the premises and cannot be evicted from his dwelling by way of repossession, unless he is an assignee of the lease and the assignment took place after the sending of the notice of intention (to convert the building into divided co-ownership) or if he becomes a tenant after the Administrative Housing Tribunal has authorized the owner of the immovable to proceed with the conversion. The goal is to avoid a housing crisis, by reducing rental units in favor of divided co-ownership.
A 2008 decision, Gagnon vs. Lévesque,, was rendered by the Court of Quebec in a similar situation. After negotiating the departure of the tenants for the sum of $12,000.00, the buyer claimed (from her sellers and the notary who instructed the sale) the reimbursement of this amount, as well as compensation for the inconveniences suffered. It should be noted that, in this case, the decision of the Administratieve Housing tribunal had not been attached to the Declaration of Co-Ownership registered at the Land Registry. In any event, after analyzing the facts, Judge Richard Landry ordered the sellers and the notary to pay the sum of $18,220.83 to the buyer, "in solidum". Between the defendants, however, the liability of the notary was established at 100%, that of the sellers at 0%.
The moral of the story is: before buying a condo unit, do not hesitate to consult a lawyer who specializes in such subject and who will do all the research required to establish the validity of the planned transaction, without any surprises around the corner.
Me Michel Paradis, avocat
Therrien Couture Joli-Cœur S.E.N.C.R. L
1134, Grande Allée O., #600
Quebec (Quebec) G1S 1E5