Questions frequently asked by parents who rent

Questions frequently asked by parents who rent
Here are the answers to questions frequently asked by parents who rent.

Here are the answers to questions frequently asked by parents who rent.

1. How do I know if my landlord’s rent increase is fair?

On its website, the Régie du logement has a calculation tool that can help you figure out if the rent increase is reasonable. To use it, however, you must know the building’s operating expenses (taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc.).

“You can ask your landlord for this information, but it’s not always easy to get it,” says Maxime Roy-Allard of the RCLALQ. “Don’t be afraid to ask your housing committee for advice, if there is one in your city or neighbourhood.” As a point of comparison, rents rose an average of 2.2 per cent in 2018, according to the CMHC.

You can also refuse a rent increase and still renew your lease. You must inform your landlord within one month of receiving the notice of rent increase. A response model is available on the Régie du logement’s website. “It’s better to send it by registered mail so you have proof that you have responded,” says lawyer Antoine Morneau-Sénéchal, head of P.O.P.I.R. - Comité Logement’s legal information department.

When you refuse a rent increase, the landlord can make you a new proposal within one month of your refusal or ask the Régie to set the rental amount.

2. Does a landlord have the right to refuse to rent a dwelling to me on the grounds that it is too small for my family?

If your family is too large for the size of the unit, the Civil Code of Québec allows the landlord to refuse to rent it to you. How many occupants can live in a given area? “This can be open to interpretation because the Civil Code does not specify,” says Morneau-Sénéchal.

However, Montreal and Longueuil have set benchmarks in their by-laws on housing safety. For instance, in Montreal, a dwelling must provide at least 8.5 sq. m (91 sq. ft.) of living space per person. That means seven people could live in a 58 sq. m (600 sq. ft.) apartment. The Régie du logement may, however, determine that there are too many occupants in a dwelling, even if the by-law thresholds are respected.

3. Our landlord has evicted us. Do they have the right to do that?

At the start of each new year, many tenants receive a notice of repossession of a dwelling from landlords who say they or a member of their family wants to live there. Sometimes this is a tactic so that they can raise the rent, but if the landlord is acting in good faith, this practice is legal. You must receive written notice six months before the end of your lease and you are entitled to an amount to cover your moving expenses.

However, if after leaving the dwelling due to a repossession, you discover that it is not occupied by the landlord or a family member, you can claim damages.

In addition, your landlord can ask you to move out of the dwelling if they are enlarging or demolishing it, changing the occupancy (e.g., turning it into an office space), or dividing it into multiple dwellings. In these cases, you are entitled to three months’ rent in compensation and reimbursement of reasonable moving expenses. “You can challenge the eviction by contacting the Régie du logement within one month of receiving the eviction notice,” says Morneau-Sénéchal. “But if the landlord has permits to do the work, it is difficult to win.”

If they are doing major renovations, the landlord may also ask you to vacate the dwelling while the work is being completed. Once the work is done, you can return to your dwelling and the landlord cannot raise the rent if your lease has not run out.

Some landlords, however, offer to pay tenants so that they move out for good. This is another tactic to raise the rent. “If a landlord wants to pay you to leave, a housing committee can inform you of your rights and guide you through the negotiation,” says Morneau-Sénéchal. “However, if you have already given your consent by signing an agreement with the landlord, it is too late to change your mind.”

4. There’s mould in my children’s bedroom and my landlord won’t do anything about it. What should I do?

You can send your landlord a formal notice by registered mail giving them 10 days to resolve the problem. If they still don’t do anything, you can ask your municipality to have an inspector visit your dwelling (file a request to intervene). If they deem that the dwelling is unsanitary, they may send a notice to the landlord formally asking them to carry out the necessary work.

You can also ask the Régie du logement (for a fee of $76) to force the landlord to carry out the work or cancel the lease. You will then be summoned to a hearing before the tribunal of the Régie du logement. It’s a good idea to bring pictures of the damage.

A dwelling can be deemed unfit for habitation when it presents a serious danger to the health or safety of its occupants. The tenants can then abandon the dwelling without having to pay the rent for the period during which the dwelling was unfit for habitation. It is important to notify the landlord in writing within 10 days after abandoning the dwelling (a form is available on the Régie du logement’s website).

Keep in mind that abandoning a dwelling is a last resort because it is up to the tenants to prove that it cannot be inhabited, which can be very difficult to do. Otherwise, the landlord can sue for the unpaid months of rent.

“Whether it’s mould or something else, the poor condition of a dwelling is not always a health hazard,” says Morneau-Sénéchal. “Before abandoning your dwelling, speak with a housing committee or your municipality.”


Photos: GettyImages/FluxFactory, AleksandarNakic, and mediaphotos


Naître et grandir

Source: Naître et grandir magazine, April 2019
Research and copywriting: Nathalie Vallerand
Reviewed by: Julien Delangie, lawyer specializing in housing law