Repairs and unsanitary conditions
The Civil Code of Quebec states that a landlord must guarantee their tenant a dwelling in good, livable habitable condition and cleanliness (art. 1910-1911). Thus, it is the responsibility of your landlord to do the necessary maintenance and repairs to the dwelling at the start of the lease and to keep it in good condition.
Any problem deemed immediately dangerous to the health or safety of a tenant is considered an urgent and necessary repair (e.g. pipes that freeze during the winter).
- For all urgent repairs, you must notify your landlord as soon as possible (by registered mail or by telephone in front of a witness).
- If your landlord does promptly after being notified, you can undertake the repairs yourself provided that the expenses are reasonable and necessary for the accommodation.
- The landlord must reimburse you. You could even deduct the cost of the work from future rents. We suggest that you notify the owner of your intention by sending him a letter and attaching photocopies of the invoices. It is therefore very important to keep all receipts and invoices.
Major versus minor repairs
All major repairs are the responsibility of the landlord, as are the usual repairs that require a little more professional knowledge or skill, such as broken locks, pipes or sanitary installations.
You must notify your landlord of defects and substantial deterioration that occurs to the rented property.
If repairs that are neither urgent nor major are to be undertaken in the dwelling (e.g., a bedroom door that does not close), but the owner does nothing after reporting the repairs in question, the solution is to act by opening a file at the Administrative Housing Tribunal.
Access to the dwelling
Can my owner come to my house whenever he wants?
The landlord must, unless there is an emergency, give you 24 hours notice when he/she wants to check the condition of the dwelling or carry out work on it.
When your landlord wants to make repairs or work in your home, you cannot refuse him access. However, you can restrict his/her access to your dwelling by allowing him/her to carry out works between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. when it is not urgent.
If I must leave my accommodation temporarily, what are my rights?
When your landlord plans to undertake major renovations or a non-urgent major repair, he must notify you. In this notice, it must indicate:
- The nature of the work.
- The date on which it will begin.
- An estimate of its duration.
- Reasonable compensation when the temporary evacuation of the tenant is planned.
You should receive this notice:
- At least ten (10) days before the start of work in the case of an evacuation period of one week or less.
- At least three (3) months before for a temporary evacuation of more than one week.
Thereafter, you have ten (10) days to inform your landlord of your intention to comply. If you do not respond, you are deemed to have refused to leave your dwelling.
If you refuse to leave or simply refuse the conditions surrounding the evacuation notice, the owner has, in turn, ten (10) days to make a request to the Administrative Housing Tribunal so that the court can judge the nature of the work: their duration, the necessity of the evacuation of the tenant and the compensation to which he/she is entitled.
Note that when you return to your accommodation after major repairs, you continue to pay the same rent as before your departure. The next increase could only occur when the lease is renewed.
Also, the landlord must return the accommodation to you in a clean state at the end of the work.
Unsanitary and unfit for habitation dwellings
There is a distinction between sub-standard housing and unfit housing. For a dwelling to be considered unfit for habitation, it must objectively constitute a serious threat to the health or safety of the occupants or have been declared as such by the Administrative Housing Tribunal or by a competent authority, such as the municipal inspector. It may be quicker and preferable to request an inspection by your borough.
Examples of unfit housing include the constant presence of cockroaches or mice after several extermination attempts, widespread mold (with expert evidence) and the absence of hot water, electricity, sufficient heating or windows.
However, it is generally not considered that a dwelling is unfit if there is a hole in the wall, missing interior doors, presence of insects, worn floors, etc.
When the obligation to heat the dwelling is the responsibility of the landlord according to the lease, the landlord must heat the building as soon as the temperature requires it, regardless of the date or the time of the year. The City of Montreal sets the minimum temperature at 21°C in a dwelling and 15°C in common areas.
If the heating is not included in the price of the rent, the heating devices must nevertheless make it possible to reach a temperature of 21°C in the accommodation.
In order to calculate the temperature of your home, you must write down the outside and inside temperatures for a few days at fixed times. The temperature should be measured in the center of each room, one meter from the floor.
City of Montreal – Verdun Borough: 311
Public Health Department: 514-528-2400
Noise and Harassment
The owner must provide peaceful enjoyment of the premises throughout the term of the lease.
Harassment is conduct that manifests itself in repeated words, actions or gestures that are contemptuous or degrading towards a person.
In article 1902, the Civil Code of Quebec prohibits harassment. It is provided that no one can harass a tenant in such a way as to restrict his/her quality of life, his/her right to enjoyment of the premises or to force him/her to leave his/her dwelling.
Any tenant who is the victim of harassment may appeal to the Administrative Housing Tribunal for compensation (damages).
Noise and neighbours
Although tenants must accept the reasonable inconveniences of the neighborhood, tenants and the persons to whom they allow the use of the dwelling must also behave in such a way as not to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the premises of other tenants.
When you have problems related to your neighbours, neighbourhood or noise, you must notify your landlord verbally and then consider sending a formal notice so that he/she can intervene and resolve the situation.
If this persists, you can make a request to the Administrative Housing Tribunal for a reduction in your rent or the termination of your lease. It is important to note that the disruptive behavior or situation for which a file has opened about must be permanent, persistent or repeating and that it causes you serious harm.
Housing search and discrimination
There are not enough protections for tenants against discrimination. Here is what currently exists:
- Landlords cannot refuse to rent to a person for reasons related to race, color, sex or gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, marital status, age, etc.
- Landlords have the right to check the solvency (ability to pay one's debts) of potential tenants, but they cannot refuse based on prejudice. Having a precarious job or being on social assistance is not synonymous with inability to pay rent.
- Landlords cannot require the following information: social insurance number, driver's license, health insurance card, bank account number, rent deposit.
Possible steps to follow…
- If you are interested in housing, say so clearly. You can demonstrate your ability to pay rent regularly by providing proof of your paid bills (Hydro-Québec, Bell, Videotron bills, etc.) as well as rent receipts. If you can, give the references of your previous owners.
If you believe that you are the victim of discrimination: you must document your complaint.
- Ask the name of the person you spoke to and the reason for their refusal.
- Take note of the address of the dwelling, the telephone number, the date and time of the visit, the cost of the rent, the number of rooms and the availability.
- Be accompanied, the person will be able to testify.
How to file a complaint:
- File your complaint with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse;
- Do it as soon as possible since, at this stage, the complaint could be the subject of a settlement.
Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission
514.873.5146 / 1.800.361.6477 email: email@example.com
Head office: 360, rue Saint-Jacques, 2nd floor, Montreal, Quebec, H2Y 1P5