With the last of the pitiful snow melting away, Spring is officially here which means it's time to start scrambling for your dream apartment. Especially if you're looking to find a lease that starts in the upcoming summer months. It's peak season for signing apartment leases. Want to avoid getting screwed over by a stingy landlord? Quebec's Regie du Logement has written protections for landlords and tenants alike. But among pages of legal jargon, we've translated and simplified the Regie down to 10 things you need to know before you sign.
1. Rental applications: What Can Landlords ask?
The rental applications are used to "establish identity, prove conduct or establish payment habits."
- request to see a valid identity document
- request contact information of a previous landlord and collect information from them
- carry out a credit check
Landlords cannot require a:
- social insurance number
- drivers license card/number
- health insurance card/number
All that said, landlords often do request extra information. The better you are able to prove your abilities as a reliable tenant, the more likely landlords are to consider you in the lease negotiation.
2. Cosigning: Is It Legal?
Because full-time students are often unable to make enough money to pay for the apartment's rent during the school year, landlords often require someone to cosign the lease with you. This is usually your parent or someone who's going to be paying the majority of the rent. In this case, it is important to let the landlord know that you will not be providing the primary salary but it is perfectly legal for the landlord to request a cosigner. Also if you have bad credit, it never hurts to have co-signer who can vouch for your reformed ways.
3. Lease Deposit: What Do you Have To Pay?
When signing a lease, it is legal for a landlord to require a deposit equal to the first month's rent. However it is illegal for the landlord to charge anything more for a lease deposit: whether it be for keys, furniture or safety deposits.
4. Post-dated Cheques: Are they required?
A landlord cannot require rent payments by post-dated cheques. But if you both want to do it that way, then go for it!
5. Pets: Do I Have To Get Rid Of Fluffy?
If you've already had Fluffy in the building, then no ... but it's totally legal for the landlord to include a "No pets" clause in the lease.
6. Smoking: Can A Landlord Forbid It?
Yep, totally legal, if the landlord includes a "No smoking" clause in lease.
7. Rent Increases: Whoa, Why Is This Month's Rent More Than Last Months Rent?
The landlord has the right to ask for a rent increase. In a word: inflation. This year, and keep in mind that it totally depends on the building, the Regie estimated a 0.6% increase for an unheated dwelling. If you refuse the rent increase, which is legal, then the landlord does not have the right to kick you out. But the landlord then has the right to go to the Regie, and then it makes a whole legal mess. Typically an increase of 1-3% is normal and it's generally prudent to just accept it.
8. Subletting: What Are The Rules For This?
If you are planning to sublet your place its important to know that you remain entirely responsible for the obligations of the lease. That said, you can draw up a sublease form by using a standard lease form and fill it out as the landlord. Let your landlord know you are planning to sublet your place and notify them of your sub-tenant nomination. They are allowed to refused the sub-tenant provided they offer serious explanations. A sublet is a sublet (versus assigning a lease) only if you expect to return afterwards.
9. Repairs: What Are The Responsibilities Of The Landlord VS. Tenant?
A landlord is required to deliver the dwelling in "good habitable condition" and the tenant is required to leave the dwelling in "good habitable condition." In between, it is the landlord's responsibility to maintain upkeep. Request repairs to the super/janitor, where applicable, and, if needed, then follow up with the landlord. If there are neglect disputes, especially regarding urgent repairs follow up with the Regie.
10. Breaking A Lease: Is It Legal?
A lease must be respected until its end, keep in mind it is a legal contract. This also means that if your roommate leaves you, a landlord still has the right to collect the rent payment in full. However, It is possible to assign your lease to another person.