A students Guide to Renting Part 2
Updated: Jan 22, 2020
There are many myths about paying rent in Montreal that even local will repeat to you as if it were fact. This sort of confusion is not uncommon. Most people never have any serious problems with their apartments and as a result don’t know what their rights and responsibilities really are.
Most importantly, if you ever have a serious problem with a landlord that can not be worked out civilly, for whatever reason, you can contact the Regie du Logement de Quebec. The Regie is the government agency regulating housing for the Province of Quebec and can arbitrate any serious problem you may have.
One of the first myths most people will run into is a cheat on the part of landlords. Many landlords will demand a deposit on an apartment. The usual deal is that you give a cash deposit which will be returned to you at the end of your lease provided you maintain your home properly. This is not a legal practice. Your Landlord has the right to ask for first months rent in advance and nothing else.
So, for instance a landlord may demand a deposit to ensure that a newly carpeted apartment is maintained correctly. The idea being that if you ruin the carpeting the landlord will keep the deposit to cover repairs. This is not permitted. You are responsible for that carpeting and may be expected to pay for it if it is damaged! But they can not ask for a deposit a year in advance just in case this happens. Additionally, never give a deposit or first months rent on an apartment you have not seen in person or have not signed a lease for. If you give a deposit to someone before signing a lease you may lose your money if you decide not to sign.
Payment and Alterations in a Lease
The next myth is that you have up to a week (or more) to pay rent after the due date listed on your lease. Again, this is not true. Your rent is due on the date recorded in your lease, in full, each month. The standard due date for rent is the 1st of each month but that date can be changed by mutual agreement in the lease so long as it is recorded in writing. Many landlords are willing to be flexible on payment, but remember they are not obliged to do so.
The last and probably most commonly spread myth is that there is a limit on how much your landlord can raise your rent. There is not. Your landlord can increase the rent on your apartment by any amount, but that does not mean you need to accept an unreasonable increase.
In Quebec your landlord must inform their tenants of changes in any terms of a lease. They must advise you a minimum of 1-2 months in advance of the end of the lease in the case of short-term leases (less than a year) and 3-6 months before for full year leases. In addition, changes must be presented in writing with either the cash value or percentage of the increase clearly marked.
If you feel that an increase in rent or changes in terms are not acceptable you are not obliged to accept. You may contest any changes in your lease with the Regie. Individual claims are dealt with on a case by case basis by the Regie who will judge whether the changes are applicable or not. You must respond to your landlord in writing if you intend to refuse any changes to your lease.
Where and when to pay? Your rent should be payed directly to the person or company named on your lease. Your landlord can accept rent in any form they like (cash, check, money order, bank transfer, PayPal, etc.) but, regardless of which method you use, you should always get a receipt. This is particularly important if you pay in cash! Without a receipt you have no proof that you paid!
Your landlord can only ask for the current months rent (unless you are behind). They may not ask for deposits, post dated checks, more rent than stated in your lease, or increase your rent except at the renewal of your lease. If for any reason your lease includes illegal terms the government will automatically ignore them even if you have already signed.
Finally, if for some reason you can not contact your landlord to pay or your landlord is refusing payment you may, with the Regie’s permission, pay your rent at the Regie in trust to your landlord. In this way you can ensure you are maintaining your side of your lease even if your landlord in unreliable or absent.
There is a lot more to renting a home in Montreal. We will be releasing another blog on your Rights and Responsibilities as a renter soon. See you next week.
Paying rent- https://www.educaloi.qc.ca/en/capsules/paying-rent
Regi du Logement Quebec -https://www.rdl.gouv.qc.ca/en