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The Lease: Rights and Responsibilities

    

Signing a Lease

Lease Renewals or Changes

Terminating your Lease

Transferring your Lease or Subletting the Apartment

 


 

Signing a Lease

Before you actually sign either a lease or a flat sharing agreement, you must be aware that both types of contracts have serious legal implications.

If you have any doubts about the procedure, we strongly recommend you speak with the Régie du logement - the Government of Québec’s Rental Board that structures precisely Landlord-Renter relationships. HEC Montréal shall not be liable for leases or agreements signed by students.
  

+  What does a lease document look like?

Bookstores sell the official lease document in either French or English that is identified with the Régie du Logement logo.  Québec Law requires that this document be drawn up in French unless the parties agree otherwise.

+  What is the normal duration of a lease?

Be aware that in Montreal, it is extremely difficult to negotiate a Lease with duration of less than 12 months.  If you need to move in before the first of the month you will normally be required to pay for an additional full month and similarly if you leave in the middle of a month, you will generally be required to pay for the full month. You may negotiate an early move-in date if the apartment is free earlier (usually for a small surcharge).

+  Must I provide my bank account information, my passport number or Social Insurance Number

It is illegal for the landlord to require this information.The name of your bank branch and their phone number should be sufficient.

+  Once I have applied for an apartment, how long should I wait to get a reply from the landlord?


The banking history investigation that the landlord will request to confirm that you are solvent usually takes two days.

+  I have applied for an apartment.  I don’t have an answer from the landlord yet and I have found a better place… what should I do?

You must first contact the landlord to confirm that you are still being considered for the apartment and that you are first in line before you proceed.  Be absolutely certain that he agrees to cancel your application before filling out an application with the second landlord.

+  What should I check on the lease form before I agree to sign it?

  • The following information must be written onto the official Régie du Logement lease form:

  1. The owner’s name and his address.
  2. Your full name (the name of your friend as well if you are both signing this lease together).
  3. The apartment's full address and apartment number if applicable.
  4. The list of equipment provided with the apartment (e.g. the stove and refrigerator must be listed if they are provided by the landlord).
  5. The lease’s start and end dates.
  6. The monthly rent payment amount and how it is to be paid (when, where, etc).
  7. Should the landlord agree to perform repairs or renovations to the apartment, be sure this is detailed precisely on the lease document with a termination date (e.g. before or after you move-in?).
  8. The services included in your rent payment (heating, hot water, electricity, etc).
  9. If pets or smoking is allowed in your apartment. 
  10. The building’s rules and regulations.

+  Can I change my mind once I sign the lease or can I terminate the lease early?

Once you have signed a lease, you are responsible for it for the full duration of the contract.  You may however try to negotiate a deal with the landlord or transfer it to another person (with the landlord’s approval).

+  When will I get my copy of the lease?

Usually right away after signing, certainly before you move-in.  If this is not the case, contact the landlord immediately.  It is illegal for a landlord to refuse to provide the tenant with a copy of his lease contract.

+  What happens if I don’t have a written contract?

In Canada, a verbal agreement is as valid as a signed agreement. Any landlord who has contracted a verbal agreement with a tenant should provide him with a written confirmation within 10 days. The document called “Mandatory Writing” is available from the Régie.Even though you may have certain rights as per the Régie du Logement rules without a signed lease – WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO SIGN AN OFFICIAL LEASE ON THE APPOINTED FORM.

+  If I’m renting a room from someone, should I expect to get a lease?

It is not customary for room boarders to sign an official lease for this type of rental.  It is however highly recommended that you sign a written contract: a formal letter with all of the pertinent information (price, duration, description of the location and access to the house, included services, etc).

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Lease Renewals or Changes

Must I advise my landlord that I wish to renew for another term (for another year)? 

A Lease in Québec is automatically renewed for the same duration UNLESS you advise in writing that you are leaving.  It is illegal for your landlord to increase your rent, or terminate it before the lease expiration date.

 

+  Steps and allowable lead-times for changes by the landlord

  • Change procedures applicable for your Lease (rent price or other changes).
  • ALL THAT FOLLOWS must be done in writing.
Lease duration Lead-time that the Landlord must respect if he wishes to make changes to the Lease contract Written Answer from the Renter Régie du logement
12 months or more 3 to 6 months before the termination date

You must reply to the landlord within one Month of the change notification, if:

- you wish to leave;

- you refuse the increase and/or modifications requested by the Landlord.

 

Failure to reply means that you accept the changes and will stay for another term.

Your landlord may, within one month of your refusal to accept the changed lease conditions, apply to the Régie to get the terms of the lease decided by the Court.

Otherwise, the previous lease conditions remain in effect.

Beware that the Court’s decision is FINAL you must accept the rent increase set by the Régie; you will not have the option to leave.

 

< 12 months1 to 2 months before the termination date
Undetermined duration1 to 2 months before the changes are to take effect
Room Rental

10 to 20 days before the changes are to take effect

 

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Terminating your Lease

It is NOT possible to terminate a lease before it expires. Be aware that your lease is automatically renewed for another year unless you react in time.  If you do not wish to renew it, you must advise him within the legal lead-times.  However if you wish to leave early, you may try to sublet or transfer your lease to someone else (the landlord must agree to this if the offer is reasonable).

 

+  Table:

Legal lead-time for the written notification that you will not renew your lease.
Lease duration If you haven’t received a written change notification If you have received a written change notification
12 months or more 3 to 6 months prior to the lease termination dateWithin 1 month of receiving the change notification
< 12 months1 to 2 months prior to the lease termination date
Undetermined duration

1 to 2 months prior to the proposed  dated of departure

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Transferring Your Lease or Subletting The Apartment


+  What is the difference between subletting and transferring the lease?

Subletting an apartment means you let someone stay in your place temporarily.  For example, a student might sublet for the summer months.  Normally this option is used only if you are planning to move back into your place later on.  This option is best if you are leaving for a short period and want to avoid paying for an empty apartment. Remember that from a legal point of view, you remain fully responsible for the lease and the apartment.  You retain your right to return to the apartment when the subletting agreement ends. If you plan to leave your apartment permanently, it is preferable that you transfer your lease to someone else.

+  How should I proceed?

  • Write up a contract. As the tenant wanting to sublet or transfer your lease, you need to list the terms of the contract with the new occupant.  There are examples of this available at the Régie du logement. 
  • Advise your landlord. The landlord must be formally advised in writing of the name and address of the new occupant and he must approve the change.  The Régie has some templates of the notice document on their website.
  • The landlord’s decision.  The landlord may refuse the person you select if he has reasonable reasons to do so (e.g. lack of financial resources).  The reply must be received by mail within 15 days following your notification.  A failure to get a reply means that the proposal is accepted.

+  Your responsibility

You must be aware that you remain fully responsible for the apartment, for damages as well as the rent payments if you simply sublet your apartment.

+  Vacating an apartment

You retain all rights and obligations for the apartment even if you don’t sublet and leave the apartment empty. You remain responsible for damages and rent payments until the lease expires. In case of non payment of your rent, you may face legal proceedings.  If you transfer your lease, you are released from your lease and its obligations.

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