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Using the property, maintaining its form and allowing verification of the premises

Using the property with prudence and diligence

Since the lessee has temporary possession of property that belongs to another, he must use the leased premises in a reasonable manner.1 This is a general obligation covering all aspects of the use of the leased premises including, among other things, the obligation to notify the lessor of any defect or deterioration in the leased premises.

1 Art. 1855 C.C.Q.

Maintaining the form and destination of the leased premises

The lessee may not change the form or destination of the leased premises.2 For example, a residential dwelling cannot be used for commercial purposes, and a commercial space cannot be used for residential purposes. As mentioned, the lessee of a commercial space must also comply with the destination defined in the lease, which specifies the type of commercial activities permitted.

The stakes are different in commercial real estate, and the continued presence and operation of a business is essential to the lessor, particularly when it comes to retail and industrial spaces. Indeed the courts have held that the non-operation of a lessee’s business in the leased premises could, depending on circumstances, constitute a change of destination.

For this reason, many commercial leases state that the lessee is required to operate his business continuously in the leased premises, or limit the cessation of activities to a given number of consecutive days. If the lessor does not want to compel a lessee to operate continuously, he will want to include a clause in the lease allowing him to terminate the lease in the event of a cessation of operations. On this subject, read the article Termination of the lease by operation of law following failure to operate a business.

2 Art. 1856 C.C.Q.

Allowing verification of the premises

This obligation of the lessee relates to the lessor’s right to ascertain the condition of the leased property.

In a commercial lease, unless the parties agree otherwise and the agreement is recorded in the lease, the Civil Code of Québec3 provides that the lessor may ascertain the condition of the leased premises, carry out work thereon, or have it visited by a prospective lessee or buyer. However, the framework to exercise this right is very broad, since it is stated that the lessor must do so in a reasonable manner. It is therefore not uncommon to find a clause in commercial leases that specifically governs the exercise of this right by the lessor.

3 Art. 1857 C.C.Q.



Before arranging a visit of the leased premises for lease or sale, consult the lease to find out:

  • Visiting hours;
  • Verbal or written prior notices, as applicable;
  • Individuals who must be present;

thereby fulfilling your ethical obligation to verify.


Last updated on: December 16, 2022
Reference number: 264734