Technically, moving day won't be taking place until July 1 in Quebec, but this year it looks like people have begun apartment shopping and packing their bags a bit early. For the more weathered tenants across the province, you might already be in-the-know on what your rights are as a renter, and what your landlord can and can't do.
For the newbies to renting and signing a lease in Quebec, a lot of shady things could be going on that you don't even know is totally illegal. Nonetheless, whether you've rented before or not, there are just some things that landlords try to get away with while you're renting an apartment.
Luckily, with the help of the Régie du logement Québec and a few other Quebec homeowners information sites, we've come up with a list of things your landlord can't do during your tenancy.
1. Your landlord can't require you to pay additional fees or deposits
Probably the most well known rule in Quebec: unlike in other provinces, you don't have to pay first/last month's rent in advance. This also means your landlord can't ask for a security deposit or key deposit. Basically, don't pay for anything but your first month of rent on the first day of your lease.
2. The landlord cannot ask for some private information
This includes your credit card number, bank account numbers, social insurance numbers, visa or passport, driver's permit, or proof of health insurance. Note that your landlord is legally allowed to ask for proof of ID, current or previous address, and date of birth to conduct a credit check.
3. A landlord cannot rent apartments that are unsafe or uninhabitable
Let's say you go to a viewing of an apartment you have interest in. You walk in with the landlord and notice the a part of the floor is caved in, or perhaps there is some mold or other health and safety concern. Well, that's totally illegal and it's advised that you take photos of the issue and contact a city inspector for further assistance.
4. Your landlord cannot neglect repairs that are absolutely necessary
Urgent and necessary repairs that could endanger a tenant's well-being must be performed in a timely manner and at no cost to the tenants. On the other hand, the tenant is responsible for making any minor maintenance repairs. If your landlord puts off doing the major work, you can contact the Régie for permission to do the repairs yourself and for an order that your landlord must reimburse you for the costs.
5. Your landlord cannot enter your apartment without your permission
AND they must also give you 24 hours notice before entering your apartment unless the apartment is up for rent, in which case consent is still required. Consent can be either verbal or written. The only scenario in which a landlord is legally allowed to enter your apartment without consent is in cases of emergency.
6. It is illegal for a landlord to request post-dated cheques
By law, a landlord cannot request you to write post-dated cheques for rent.
7. A landlord cannot include illegal clauses to a lease
If a condition of the lease undermines your rights as a tenant, it is considered null even if you have already signed the lease.
8. Your landlord cannot use anything but an official Quebec lease document
They can be found at any pharmacy for a small price and must be provided by your landlord when signing a lease agreement. You can ask for a lease in either French or English.
9. Your landlord cannot tolerate an evironment that is full of disturbances
That means any disruptions such as noisy neighbours, plumbing and/or appliance issues, must be dealt with by the landlord if they are causing any disturbance to your living situation.
10. A landlord cannot alter the purpose of an apartment
This means that your landlord cannot change the purpose of the apartment you are renting during the entire length of your lease. The only exception to this rule is if the apartment has deteriorated so much that the tenant can no longer use it.
11. Your landlord cannot evict you at the end of your lease without just cause
Whether your lease is for one year, two years, three years or another set amount of time, you legally have a right to maintain occupancy as a tenant under the Civil Code of Québec.
12. Your landlord cannot modify a preexisting lease agreement without written notification
This can include the terms of the lease or the cancellation of entitlement to a parking spot. The written notice must also indicate the time a tenant has to refuse the proposed modifications. The notice must be dated and signed by the landlord.
13. As a tenant, you can refuse your landlord's request to increase rent
According to the Régie, if your landlord notifies you of a rent increase, you can respond in refusal of the proposal while still renewing your lease. In this case, the tenant or landlord can ask the Régie du logement to review the decision within one month from the date of the refusal.
14. Your landlord cannot cancel your lease for any reason
There are only 4 specific situations in which a lease can be cancelled during its term: a tenant has been allocated a dwelling in low-rental housing, a tenant can no longer occupy a dwelling due to a handicap, an elderly person has been permanently admitted to a long-term care centre, if the safety of a tenant or the safety of a child living with the tenant is threatened.
15. A landlord cannot terminate your lease because your roommate decided to leave the occupancy
In the case that your roommate decides to terminate their occupancy, your landlord must allow you to continue living in the dwelling as long as you continue to pay the full cost of rent and take full responsibility of the lease.
If you have any questions or concerns about a lease agreement or your landlord, your best bet is to contact a lawyer in Quebec for further information.
This list is not comprehensive and includes paraphrased information. Visit the Régie du logement website for more complete legal information.