Building occupancy and maintenance: How to comply with regulations

Do you own an occupied or vacant building in Montréal? You must comply with regulations regarding building occupation and maintenance. The objective is to prevent deterioration of buildings and protect them against weather conditions (e.g. snow, rain, wind).

The municipal regulation applies to all buildings and outbuildings (e.g. sheds, garage, carport, storage unit). The objective of our standards for building occupancy and maintenance is to encourage the use of Montréal buildings and support the quality of our neighbourhoods.

Updates to regulations

In compliance with the law, a by-law on occupancy and maintenance of buildings (Règlement sur l’occupation et l’entretien des bâtiments, 23-016) came into force on October 24, 2023. This regulation replaces and repeals the by-law concerning building maintenance (07–034) in order to better manage several objectives. The regulation was revised, in particular, to respond to issues related to lack of maintenance and vacancy in buildings, primarily those of heritage value.

The new by-law reinforces general maintenance standards, adds specific requirements for vacant buildings and increases fines for violations.

During 2024, owners of vacant buildings will be required to register their building with the city. Montréal will publish a registration form once this provision comes into effect. If the vacant property is a heritage building, the owner must also fill in the part of the form related to the building’s condition.

Start dates

The new regulatory provisions will come into effect in two stages:

October 24, 2023

The following provisions come into effect:

  • General provisions related to maintenance standards for all buildings
  • Specific standards for vacant buildings (e.g. requirements related to temperature)
  • Fines for violations of the by-law increase, to as much as $250,000 for a heritage building
During 2024

All owners of vacant buildings are required to register their properties.

Standards and measures related to the occupancy and maintenance of buildings

All parts of a building must be maintained in good condition. This requirement includes the following elements:

  • The exterior envelope (including, but not limited to, the cornice, a terrace, balcony, staircases, gutters)
  • Exterior elements (including, but not limited to, the roofing, exterior walls, foundations, mortar pointing, sealant)
  • Structural elements (including, but not limited to, beams, foundation)
  • Openings (including, but not limited to, doors, windows, roof access, hatches);
  • Backflow stop valve
  • Plumbing systems
  • Heating systems

The occupancy and maintenance by-law (Règlement 23-016) includes specific conditions related to vacant buildings, namely:

  • The period during with the building is inaccessible (barricading)
  • Installation methods and materials used to barricade openings
  • Exterior lighting of access points
  • Minimum 10°C interior temperature requirement, to prevent deterioration and extend the usable life of vacant buildings

These standards are also designed to eliminate any problems such as:

  • Building deterioration and negative impacts on the quality of life in a district
  • Negative effects of prolonged barricading on a neighbourhood and the building
  • Intrusions into a vacant building
  • Sanitation problems caused by the poor condition of plumbing.

Registration of vacant buildings

The information needed and the registration form will be made available on this page once this new provision comes into effect.

How to adapt to the regulation

As building owner, your role regarding occupancy and maintenance is essential. If you cannot fulfill your responsibilities, you must mandate someone to be responsible for acting in your name and managing the building in your absence.

Here are some maintenance suggestions to prevent the need for major repair work and to extend the useful life of your building.

Regular inspections

Sound building management must include prudent and diligent inspection of all observable components of the building. Regular inspections allow for the rapid identification of the first signs of deterioration and components in bad condition. This inspection should be done by someone with the proper qualifications.

Protection against water and humidity

No matter the material, exposure to humidity can accelerate structural degradation: concrete crumbles, steel rusts, wood rots, etc. To protect a building against water infiltration, building materials must be in good condition.

Some examples: Repairing sealant and aging mortar, cleaning roof drains and gutters, repairing cracks in the foundation. Such measures protect the building from damage caused by the elements.

Maintain vacant buildings in good condition

Degradation can accelerate if a building is left vacant for a long period of time, and can get worse if the heating system is not working. Consequently, some structures could collapse with the first freeze-thaw events; interior cladding and finishes may deteriorate prematurely and pipes can burst.

A vacant building is much more vulnerable to illegal entry and vandalism if it is not correctly maintained and monitored. For example, to reduce risk, you must board up any damaged opening, ensure regular surveillance and maintain exterior lighting.

Heritage building

To see if your building is classified as a historic (heritage) building and for more information about historic buildings, visit the following page: Properties of heritage interest.

Subsidies are available