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Warranting the use of the property

The Civil Code of Québec sets out the meaning of this warranty.

The property is to be used for the purpose for which it was leased and maintained for that purpose throughout the term of the lease.1 Thus the lessor warrants the lessee that he will be able to use the premises for the purpose specified by the latter. This obligation of the lessor exists for all types of leases, but is interpreted differently depending on whether it is a residential or commercial lease. In a commercial lease, this clause is often linked to the lessee’s obligation to use the premises only for the commercial use specified in the lease, mainly so as not to compete with another lessee carrying on another occupation in the building. For example, a lessor may allow a business to sell beauty products, but not to offer personal care if a beauty salon already occupies space in the same building.

The lessor also warrants that the municipal zoning and other applicable regulations allow the commercial use of the premises.

The use of the premises here refers to the actual use that the lessee intends to make of the leased premises. For example, if the lessee intends to use the leased premises to operate a hair salon, restaurant or medical clinic, the lessor warrants that such use complies with any regulations applicable to the leased premises, such as municipal by-laws. The lessor further warrants that the immovable itself is suited to the intended use, for example in terms of electricity, structure, etc.

Given the scope of this warranty, a well-informed lessor will have the sense to place this burden on the lessee, as the provisions of commercial leases are not a matter of public order. In fact this clause is frequently found on promises to lease.

The lessor must not change the form or destination of the leased property during the term of the lease by making any alteration that will result in diminished enjoyment by the lessee (e.g., reducing the area leased or changing the layout of the leased property). During the term of the lease, the lessor may not convert space leased for commercial purposes into space leased for residential purposes.

1 Art. 1854 (2) C.C.Q.

Last updated on: December 16, 2022
Reference number: 264728