You filed request with the Régie du logement, but you don’t know how to notify the person you are making a claim against, what to bring to the hearing at the Régie or how the hearing will unfold. You are also wondering if you should have a lawyer with you.
In this article, Éducaloi explains various aspects of hearings before the Régie du logement.
What does it mean to “notify” your request?
Definition: A request at the Régie is called an “application”. When you file your application, you must send a copy to the person (or company) you are making the claim against. Notifying the application means sending it to this person so that he or she is aware of the reasons for your application and can prepare for the hearing.
Who is responsible for notifying the application? The person making the application to the Régie – the “applicant” - must notify the application on the other side. The applicant can be either a tenant or a landlord.
How should the application be notified? Notification can be made by registered or certified mail, by bailiff, or by any other method that makes it possible to prove that the document was notified, such as hand–to-hand delivery with a signed receipt. If you think the defendant might not pick up an application served by registered or certified mail, it could be a good idea to serve it by bailiff (notification will then be called “service”).
Proof of Notification: You must prove to the Régie that the other side received a copy of your application. If you notified the other side through registered mail, you can contact Canada Post to verify that the envelope was received. If a bailiff served the application, the bailiff’s report is your proof that the other side received it. Where the application is delivered by hand, an acknowledgement of receipt with the recipient’s signature can be used as proof. (See “How should the application be notified?” above.)
Costs: You can ask the Régie for reimbursement of the costs of notification. The Régie can accept or refuse to reimburse you.
Can I change my application?
Yes. As the applicant, you can change or add to your application through an “amendment”. There are no costs for amending. An amendment must be made prior to the hearing at the Régie and served on the other side. You must provide proof of notification. You must also file a copy of the amended application with the Régie.
Note: You can verbally amend your application at the hearing in the presence of the other side, but only if the commissioner authorizes you to.
Will my case automatically be postponed if I cannot attend the hearing?
Not necessarily. If you cannot be present on the day of the hearing, you have a choice: you can either request a postponement or you can be represented by someone who will act on your behalf.
If you are requesting a postponement, you must give the Régie a written document saying the other side agrees to the postponement.
At the hearing, the Régie can postpone the case to a later date on the written or verbal request of one of the parties.
You can also be represented at the hearing by someone you choose. This person, your “mandatary”, is responsible for defending your interests. You can be represented by a lawyer, relative, spouse or friend. However, if the claim is for $ 7,000 or less, a lawyer cannot represent you. At the hearing, your mandatary must show the Régie a written document in which you give permission for the mandatary to represent you. This document is called a “mandate”.
How do I name someone to act on my behalf at the Régie?
You can do this by giving someone a mandate. A mandate is an authorization you give to the person you've chosen to act on your behalf. The person you choose is called a "mandatary".
A mandate for someone to act for you at the Régie must be written, unless you are represented by a lawyer or your spouse..
It must say why you cannot attend the hearing, the name and address of the person who will represent you, and the person’s family relationship to you, if there is one. That person must represent you for free.
Valid reasons for being absent include an automobile accident, illness, the death of a loved one or work outside the country. Remember that only the Régie can decide whether the reason for your absence is valid.
Your mandatary can do these things on your behalf:
- request that your case be postponed
- proceed with the hearing in your place
Note: it is important to clearly indicate the limits of what the person acting for you can do so that there are no misunderstandings.
When can a hearing at the Régie be postponed?
You can postpone your hearing to a later date if you and the other side agree to postpone, and you file a written agreement about this with the Régie.
Your mandatary can also ask the Régie to postpone your case. However, the Régie is free to accept or refuse this request. To avoid problems your mandatary can try to reach an agreement with the other side before the hearing and have this person sign a written agreement to postpone the case. Then the agreement must be filed with the Régie. Your case will then be automatically postponed.
The Régie is suggesting “conciliation”. What is this and do I have to go to conciliation?
The Régie usually suggests conciliation: this is an effort to resolve the dispute between you and the other side without going to a hearing.
You are not obliged to go to a conciliation meeting or reach a conciliation agreement.
But if you and other side do accept conciliation and reach an agreement, the Régie can close your file.
If you go to conciliation but don’t reach an agreement, the Régie will hear your case.
How does a hearing before the Régie work?
Once you have filed an application with the Régie, you will be sent a notice with the date, time and place for a hearing of your case. This notice will also be sent to the other party You must be present at the time indicated on the notice.
At the hearing, you must bring proof of notification of the application (if you are the one who made the application), and all the evidence needed to prove your case.
At the beginning of the hearing, both people involved in the case and any witnesses must promise to tell the truth.
During the hearing, you should be respectful of the Régie official hearing the case – the “commissioner” and the other party. You should also dress appropriately.
The commissioner will listen to the evidence of the person making the application to the Régie, and the statements of any witnesses called to appear.
The commissioner will then listen to evidence presented by the defendant - the person against whom the application is filed.
The person who made the application can ask questions of the defendant’s witnesses.
Bring a translator with you to the hearing if you feel that language may be a problem.
Once the evidence has been presented by both sides, the commissioner will listen to the arguments of both sides and make a decision based on everything that was said and all the documents presented. The decision will be sent to both sides by mail.
Can I force someone to be a witness?
Yes. To do this, you must have a bailiff serve the witness with an official notice called a subpoena, which is issued by the Régie. The witness must receive the subpoena at least three days before the hearing. Anyone who gets a subpoena must respect it unless they have a very good reason, such as an illness or being out of the country.
A witness must have direct and personal knowledge of the facts. People with only indirect knowledge learned through another person cannot be witnesses because all they can say is what they heard from someone else.
If you call a witness, it is a good idea to prepare questions for the witness in advance.
What can be submitted as evidence at the Régie?
In addition to the documents you want to submit as evidence, be sure that you (or your mandatary) bring a copy of your lease and any notices of changes the lease. If you gave someone a mandate to act for you, that person should bring the written mandate.
These documents can be submitted as evidence:
- if you are a tenant, notices you’ve received from the landlord
- any letters from the other side
- bills and receipts
- temperature or humidity reports
- a copy of the former tenant’s lease
- expert reports
Note: You must provide three copies of any document submitted: one for the other side, one for the commissioner and one for yourself. All photos should clearly indicate the date on which they were taken and what they show.
You can also submit decisions of the Régie or the courts in previous similar cases.
A report by an expert that is relevant to the dispute and relates to your apartment can be entered as evidence. However, the person who wrote the report must be present at the hearing to answer questions and be cross-examined (questioned) by the other side.
Written Statements of Witnesses
You can submit written statements for your witnesses. This is a written statement that replaces actual statements by a witness during the hearing.
To do this, you must get the agreement of the other side to accept a written statement instead of having the witness attend the hearing. You must also send the other side a copy of the statement. If the other side refuses to accept the written statement, it is up to the commissioner to decide whether to accept it as evidence.
The written statement will not be accepted unless you can demonstrate that it was impossible for the witness to attend in person (death, illness, out of the country, etc.).
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.