When you rent, you are a tenant, and in Quebec, tenants have rights that are protected by law. In Quebec, tenants’ and landlords’ rights are protected by a government department called the Régie de logement. There are rules about how apartments are rented, and they are usually followed. However, it is important to know your rights, because some landlords try to take advantage of tenants who don’t know.
» Obligations of Landlords (things the landlord must do)
- make sure the building is clean and well maintained.
- make sure the building is not too noisy.
- make major repairs quickly.
- don’t make major changes to the apartment.
- use an official Quebec government lease form.
Obligations of Tenants (things the renter must do)
- pay your rent every month.
- take care of the apartment (be careful, keep it clean).
- let the landlord show the apartment if he/she wants to sell the building, or to a new tenant or put a sign in the window.
- tell the landlord if there is a major problem.
- let the landlord in to your apartment to make major repairs .
- don’t change the locks without the landlord’s agreement.
- don’t make noise to disturb other people living in the building.
- don’t make changes to the form of the apartment.
- when you move out, take all your things with you, and leave it the same as it was when you moved in.
» The landlord can:
- ask for references, your full name, your previous address, and your date of birth (for a credit check).
- ask for a co-signer if you don’t have a job (this means another person signs the lease with you – for example your friend or family member).
- ask for letters from your old landlord and/or from your bank
- ask for the first month’s rent in advance.
- raise the rent once a year, by a controlled amount (the government limits the percent (%) every year).
» The landlord cannot:
- ask for a credit card number, a bank account number, social insurance number, passport or visa number, driver’s license number or any other sensitive personal data. It is illegal. (the landlord can ask to see a document like a passport to confirm your identity and age, but should not copy numbers).
- enter the apartment without giving you 24 hours notice, unless it is an emergency, or he/she is showing it to new tenant (you can still say “no”).
- change the locks without your permission.
- ask for a deposit (damage deposit, key deposit, last month’s rent). These are not legal.
- ask for post-dated cheques (cheques for every month of rent in the future).
- refuse to make the lease in English or French if you ask.
- raise the rent more than once a year, or by a large percent (%).
One of the most important laws in Canada protects everyone from discrimination. Discrimination is when someone treats another person unfairly because they are a different sex, race, religion or other factor. In Quebec, it is illegal to refuse to rent an apartment to someone because of his/her gender, nationality, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. Additionally, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to someone because they have children, or because she is pregnant (going to have a baby).
If you think a landlord is discriminating against you, contact the Off Campus Housing Office of the CSU, at 514-848-7474, ext. 7935.
If there are problems, talk to the landlord as soon as possible. If there are repairs to make, and the landlord won’t fix them, take photos, and make notes about the dates and times you asked. Write a letter to the landlord to ask. When there are serious problems, you need to have proof (papers and photos) in case you have to go to the Régie de logement.
To get advice, you can also call Arnold Bennett’s Housing Hotline on weekdays from 9am – 9pm, call 514-488-0412 or 514-990-0190.