The regulatory body for renting in Québec is the Régie du logement (www.rdl.gouv.qc.ca). There is no requirement for a lease.
form from the Régie du logement is required for any new residential lease, including the lease of a room, an apartment, a condominium or a house. In the case of a verbal lease, another form must still be signed. If there are bylaws respecting the rental property, these must be provided in writing to the lessee before the lease is signed. The lease and the bylaws must be written in French, unless the parties expressly wish them to be written in another language.
Before a new lease is signed, the landlord must provide a notice indicating the lowest rent paid in the previous twelve months. If the rent has been fixed by the Régie du logement, that amount must be disclosed. A signed move in/move out condition report is not required.
A landlord may refuse to rent to a tenant who has pets or who smokes, but may not refuse on grounds of race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, civil status, age, disability, pregnancy or children (unless the size of the dwelling warrants such a refusal). Collecting deposits, including key deposits and last month’s rent, is not allowed. It is illegal for a landlord to require post-dated cheques.
All leases, no matter their duration, are renewed under the same terms, unless the parties take action within specific notice periods. The landlord may propose a rent increase or other changes prior to the end of the lease, provided that proper notice is given. Notice periods depend on the length of the lease. After receiving a notice of increase or a change in terms, the tenant has one month to advise the landlord that the unit will be vacated, refuse the new terms, or do nothing, thereby accepting the landlord’s proposal. If the tenant refuses an increase, the landlord may apply to have the Régie “fix” the rent for the unit or allow the lease to be renewed under the previous terms. In the event of an application to “fix” the rent, the Régie considers expenses and income, along with other factors, at a hearing.
A tenant may terminate a lease by notice of non-renewal or cancellation. For leases of less than twelve months, or of no fixed duration, notice of at least one month and not more than two months is required. For leases of twelve months or longer, notice must be at least three and not more than six months prior to the end of the lease. If a tenant fails to notify the landlord of his or her intentions within the stipulated time frame, the lease is renewed automatically for the same period and under the same conditions as the previous lease. A tenant with a one-year lease, who does not notify the landlord in time, could be responsible for another one-year lease.
If a tenant wishes to sublet all or part of a rental dwelling, or assign the lease to someone else, the tenant must advise the landlord in writing, providing the name and address of that person. The landlord then has fifteen days to either accept or refuse the arrangement. Reasonable grounds must be provided for a refusal. If the landlord does not reply, the landlord is deemed to have consented.
The landlord may enter the rental unit with the tenant’s consent to make minor repairs between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., and to show the rental unit to prospective tenants or buyers between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. In both cases, the landlord is required to give the tenant 24-hour verbal notice. In the case of an emergency, the landlord may enter to check the premises at any time without providing notice.
The tenant may only withhold rent to cover the cost of urgent and necessary repairs made to ensure the preservation or enjoyment of the rental unit, provided the tenant was not able to reach the landlord to inform him or her of the situation.
In cases of disagreement between the landlord and tenant, one of the parties should apply to the Régie du logement. Neither the landlord nor the tenant may take action, such as terminating the tenancy, without a court decision.