On June 1, 2022, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec (commonly referred to as “Bill 96”) was assented to. Below is a brief summary of Bill 96’s impact on Quebec real estate matters.
1. Registration of documents at the land registry office
As of September 1, 2022, all real estate related documents that will be registered on title will have to be drawn up in French. This includes deeds of sale, deeds of hypothec, notices of lease and servitude agreements, as well as any documents that may be attached thereto. Note that all declarations of co-ownership and all ancillary co-ownership documents have been required to be drafted in French since June 1, 2022. If any of these documents are drafted in English, then they will have to be translated into French in order to be registered on title.
There are limited exceptions. If you are referring to a previous document that was registered exclusively in English before June 1, 2022, then any amendments or corrections to said document can be drafted in English. For example, if a notice of lease was registered on January 1, 2022, and the lease is amended after June 1, 2022 to add an extension option, then the notice of amendment of lease can be in English.
2. Other real estate documents
Insofar as documents that are not being registered on title are concerned, the general rule is that so long as they are not contracts of adhesion (i.e. a contract imposed by one party that cannot be changed), the present practice of including an “English-French language clause” would seem to continue to apply. This would include offers to purchase, offers to lease, leases, non-disturbance agreements, estoppel certificates and other real estate related documents that are not registered on title.
Parties that are looking to register English language documents in Quebec should take note of the August 31, 2022 deadline, insofar as the additional restrictions on registering documents in a language other than French are concerned.
As and from September 1, 2022, if the parties prefer their documents to be drafted in English, then they can prepare short forms of French language documents to be submitted to the Land Registry Office, with the more fulsome documents setting out the rights and obligations of the parties not being registered (similar to what is done in other provinces). This would enable the parties to ensure, as between themselves, that the document accurately reflects their understanding of the deal.
We will continue to monitor the interpretation and enforcement of Bill 96 and provide further updates in the future.