The months leading up to Quebec's July 1 "Moving Day" are a popular time for apartment lease renewals in Montreal. That's why it's all the more important to be aware of your rights as a tenant right now.
To make matters more complicated, a statement from the City of Montreal says that the number of available units has decreased significantly over the years with the vacancy rate in Montreal slightly above 3%, compared to 1.6% last year.
"We are currently faced with a situation where the housing that is reappearing on the market does not match the ability to pay of the majority of renters," said Robert Beaudry, the city's executive committee member responsible for housing and real estate strategy.
"That is why we recommend that Montreal tenants renew their leases, if possible. If not, before terminating their lease, they should make sure they have signed a new one."
Here's a breakdown of some of your rights for renting in Montreal.
You can refuse a rent increase
If you've received a notice for a rent increase, you have one month to respond in writing.
If you refuse the increase, your landlord can either try to negotiate with you or ask the Tribunal administratif du logement to determine the rent. In that case, your rent will stay the same until the Tribunal makes its decision, and you have the right to remain in your home.
Whatever your situation, make sure to keep dated and signed proof of all your communications with your landlord. You are not obligated to accept a rent increase if it seems excessive.
Your landlord will have to prove that their repossession respects the rules
If you've received a notice of repossession, the City of Montreal says it's possible your landlord wants to occupy the property or have it occupied by a member of their immediate family.
You are under no obligation to accept. If you refuse to leave your home, your landlord can appeal your decision to the Tribunal administratif du logement, but they will have to prove that the repossession respects the rules.
If you lose your case, you can still be entitled to compensation and accommodation.
If you get evicted, you're entitled to compensation equivalent to three months’ rent and moving costs
If you've received a notice for eviction or to subdivide, enlarge or change your dwelling, you can contest the justification for the eviction.
To do so, you have to file an application directly with the Tribunal administratif du logement in the month following the notice you received.
If the Tribunal decides that the eviction is justified, you are entitled to three months’ rent and reasonable moving costs.
You have a right to return to your home after an evacuation for major work or repairs
If your landlord asks you to temporarily leave your home to carry out work for more than one week, a notice must be sent to you at least three months prior to the work being done.
If you are asked to vacate the premises for less than a week, a notice must be sent 10 days before.
Regardless of how long you're being asked to evacuate, you are entitled to compensation. Once the work is completed, you have the right to return to your home in good condition and under the same conditions.
You can't be refused as a tenant for any reason other than the inability to pay rent
The only reason a landlord can refuse to rent a dwelling is if a potential tenant is deemed unable to pay the rent, and the landlord must be able to prove it.
If you're being refused a lease because of your social status, because you have children, or for any other discriminatory reason, you can file a complaint with the Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse.
However, provincial housing laws indicate that "the occupants of a dwelling shall be of such a number as to allow each of them to live in normal conditions of comfort and sanitation" — so depending on how many renters you are and the space of the dwelling, you could be denied a lease.
The city has the authority to intervene if your landlord doesn't resolve a sanitary issue
If you're having sanitation issues with your home, such as vermin, bedbugs or mould, ask your landlord to address the issue immediately.
If the situation isn't resolved within a reasonable timeframe, the city advises you to call your borough at 311, and has the authority to intervene to ensure decent living conditions.