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Everything you need to know about the visit of an inspector of the Régie du bâtiment

Everything you need to know about the visit of an inspector of the Régie du bâtiment

In order to prepare yourself for a possible visit by an inspector of the Régie du bâtiment or simply to make sure that you are in compliance with the Safety Code and the Building Act, here is a guide for you on the subject.

To what type of building the Régie du bâtiment has jurisdiction to send one of its inspectors?

Above all, it is important to understand that inspectors of the Régie du bâtiment do not intervene in all types of buildings. Indeed, the Régie has jurisdiction in a particular case, namely buildings with nine or more units with three or more superposed units (akin in some ways to the number of floors of the building). Do not forget that a mezzanine is not a separate unit, because most of the time it is rented with the dwelling below. In other words, the Régie du bâtiment comes into play from the moment when a building is composed of nine units and three rental units superimposed.

What are the main tasks of an inspector of the Régie du bâtiment?

An inspector of the Régie du bâtiment’s main task is to conduct verifications of compliance of a given building with applicable laws. Therefore, he verifies especially if the construction of the building is consistent and if the security measures of the building are met (more in particular with respect to fire alarms, emergency lighting and emergency exits). As an owner, you should know that your first responsibility is to ensure the safety of the residents in your building and that is why the inspectors of the Régie du bâtiment make it one of their main criteria for inspection.

During such an assessment, the inspector has obligations that are of two types in nature. For everything that relates to the safety verification of the occupants of the building in accordance with the Safety Code it concerns technical requirements. However, in cases where there shall be important construction activity in a building, an inspector could check whether a building statement has been completed and if the works on the worksite are consistent, and it would then concern administrative obligations. Remember also that after a visit, if some elements do not meet the Safety Code, an inspector would assign to the owner a notice of correction. If he would concern himself about verifying compliance with such a notice, this would also be an administrative obligation.

What are the formalities observed by the inspector prior to the visit of a dwelling?

Inspectors of the Régie du bâtiment will generally introduce themselves for a visit in three types of situations. First, they will make a visit after the receipt by the Régie du bâtiment of a complaint about the property concerned. Essentially, the complaint may be issued by any person, whether it be the neighbor, the tenant or the owner himself who is concerned about the state of one of his dwellings. Therefore, upon receipt of the complaint by the Régie du logement, complaint which often centers around a security issue, the building inspector rushes on site.

In a second case, the Régie du bâtiment may decide to send on its own initiative an inspector to check the status of the other buildings of an owner following an assessment in a verified building for reason of complaint. Indeed, if, for example, the Régie gets a complaint for building A and, after the inspection, notices that there is non-compliance with applicable legislative dispositions, and this at several levels, the Régie du bâtiment could include a visit to the other buildings of the owner to see if they are consistent or not.

Finally, the inspectors of the Régie are often dispatched to do operations in block of certain types of buildings. For example, there may be a series of verifications in homes for the elderly, or in buildings where the water may be contaminated with legionella. However, it appears that the situation most frequently listed during which an inspection is made is the first one, that is to say in response to a complaint issued to the Régie for all matters relating to the security of the inhabitants of a given building.

Does an inspector need a warrant to conduct an inspection?

An inspector does not need a warrant to make any visit as the Building Act grants all powers to the Régie du bâtiment but it follows an established protocol prior to proceeding with a verification. The Building Act does not confer any delay to prevent a tenant or an owner of an impending visit. Generally, an inspector will contact the owner or his representative to explain to him that he would like to obtain an appointment to access one of his dwellings. If the owner says that he needs a delay of two days before being able to proceed, for example because he must succeed to contact the tenant, the Régie du bâtiment will normally grant this delay without a problem.

What happens if the tenant or the owner refuses to give access to the inspector?

Firstly, it is important to know that an inspector of the Régie du bâtiment does not have the power to break the lock and enter a dwelling and the Régie has never proceeded in such a manner in case of refusal. It is obvious, however, that in a situation of imminent danger, for instance after receiving a complaint of a gas leak at a tenant’s place or of the presence of smoke in a corridor of a building, for example, the Régie dispatches one of its inspectors with police agents or firefighters to ensure the safety of the residents. At this point, it is clear that the lock may be forced to get access to the housing.

However, in a case where the Régie makes several attempts to inspect a dwelling but the tenant is in bad faith and refuses access, for example, by not showing up at several scheduled appointments, the inspector of the Régie will be able to present himself with a policeman. The latter will act as a witness to confirm and certify that there is an unjustified refusal of the tenant or the owner to give access to housing. Following this stage, the Régie du bâtiment could prosecute the tenant or the owner for obstruction. The decision that will result from the judgment will be required immediately, and if the inspection is ordered, the inspector will be able to visit the premises without problem later-on.

If a building qualifies for an inspection at the municipality but also at the Régie du bâtiment, what happens then?

There is great collaboration between every municipality and the Régie du bâtiment. Generally, when one must visit a building that qualifies itself for the Régie, the municipality prefers this to be the case. If, for instance, such a complaint is lodged with the Régie and it has jurisdiction to inspect the housing, the inspector of the Régie will proceed to visit but will often contact the city concerned to explain the situation and make a report of his conclusions. If the complaint is however lodged at the municipality for a housing that also qualifies under the Régie du bâtiment, according to the municipality concerned and its procedures, either it will send its own inspectors or it may transfer the complaint to the Régie du bâtiment.

As the owner of a building that falls under the jurisdiction of the Régie du bâtiment, how do you ensure compliance and enforcement of all your obligations as prescribed by law?

The Safety Code, which is similar to the Building Act, came into force on last March 18. It contains a wealth of information about your obligations as a landlord about all safety measures. Note that as an owner, you have a certain amount of time to comply with each one of them, as is explained in the Safety Code. In order to be able to guide you and ensure that you meet all the requirements and all the deadlines, the Régie du bâtiment has created a very interesting tool, it is called the “Web Route” which you will find at the following address: You will be asked a series of questions in order to give you at the very end a list of specific obligations and deadlines to respect and this in a personalized manner taking into account the specific characteristics of your building.

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Québec Landlords Association

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