Owners wishing to repossess one of their dwellings by June 30th 2019 had (in most cases) until December 31st 2018, or 6 months before the end of the lease, to notify their tenants. But what happens if the tenant acknowledges receipt in January 2019?
Article 1960 of the Civil Code of Québec, which establishes the deadlines to be met for a dwelling repossession, does not specify whether the notice must be sent or rather received prior to the deadline. It only states that the landlord must "notify" the tenant within the prescribed time. Only section 1962 gives us more details, specifying that the tenant must notify the owner of his decision within one month following the reception of the notice.
This lack of clarity often involves recourse at the Régie du logement. Some tenants, who do not wish to leave their dwelling and have received such a notice during the month of January, use this alleged breach of the law to contest a repossession.
The Régie du logement has ruled on this situation on several occasions. For the court, as soon as the notice has been sent, the owner’s obligations have been met. Thus, an owner sending out his notice on December 31, 2018 will have fulfilled his duty, because he will have begun the transmission process. However, he must obtain proof of receipt to meet the requirements of the Régie. This logic has also been sustained during appeal by the Court of Québec in 2018.
In addition, if the registered mail is returned to the owner with an "Unclaimed" mention several weeks later, the first mailing date remains the one retained. According to the Régie, an owner must not be penalized if his notice is returned for reasons which do not concern him. As it happens, CORPIQ previously observed a case where, after several unclaimed registered shipments, the owner was forced to call a bailiff. Only in February was the latter able to deliver the notice, but since the first mailing had been sent in December, it was considered that the owner had met the required deadlines.
Therefore, a tenant cannot indefinitely ignore a registered mail, since it would enable him of annulling procedures in bad faith. As for the owner, only 2 obligations are required of him: to prove that the mailing was sent in the prescribed deadlines, and to prove the tenants reception of the notice.
Note that this application of the law is also valid for a lease of undetermined duration or of less than 6 months.