Montreal Apartment Rentals: Tenant / Landlord Relationship.
So you found that new Montreal place you want to live at, successfully moved in; what next??
There are always some issues with the place; the list is too long to enumerate. In some cases everything goes smoothly and it is quickly solved. In other instances, administrators may be reluctant to help you so some pressure needs to be applied.
I will give a couple of tips on how to handle it with the landlord. The approach should be similar, whether the owner is a big company or a person living downstairs. Try to maintain a positive attitude but do not become too friendly with the administrator or the owner. You will end up on the bottom of the priority list, since these people always have a lot on their plate.
Most importantly, know our rights and obligations.
Obligations can be summarized as: paying on time, not damaging anything and not disturbing your neighbours.
The rent control law in Quebec is in general skewed towards the tenants. Being a socialist province, our philosophy is that the hit should be taken by taxpayers and thus tenants are protected from fluctuations in market prices and it is almost impossible for the owner to terminate a lease, with the only legitimate reason being the monetary issues.
In reality, you can only be kicked out quickly if you don’t pay. However, the other two obligations have to be observed, as the owner’s will find ways to get rid of you anyways or make your life there so miserable that you will run away yourself.
Now about the rights. The lesser has to provide you with adequately comfortable living conditions. If any of those conditions are not met, always go by the law.
Speak to the person in charge first. Be polite and positive but firm in your demands and if you see resistance, don’t hesitate to mention your rights. Try to be logical in your conversations. Use examples and invite your opponent to see your apartment and to put herself or himself in your shoes. Give them up to 5 days and if your problem is not solved send a “mise en demeure”, an official letter by registered mail. Include copies of any relevant documents and pictures with your letter. This will show your opponent the seriousness as this is step 2 in the process of filing a dispute at the Rental Board.
Experience shows that after the official notice, measures will be taken and in 95% of cases, the issues will be quickly solved.
It simply makes more sense economically to repair or replace something, rather than going to court, possibly paying damages and reducing the rent retroactively. Always be respectful, even if your opponent loses it. Everyone knows that our system is slow but eventually will get you, so nobody wants this to be hanging over their head.
Same thing works for the tenant’s obligations. Keep in mind that even if you owe $100 and there is a court decision saying that you have to pay it, the other party can always report you to the credit bureau and your ratings and reputation will be stained for at least 5 years. Some people stop paying rent in response to problems with their apartments. This is a very stupid move, as for the courts, there is no explanation for not paying the rent and will automatically put you on the list of eviction candidates.