For the past few months, your landlord has been sending you notices. Last week, you got a request he filed with the Régie du logement (rental board) to end your lease. That request will be heard shortly. The message is clear: your landlord doesn't want you as a tenant! As far as you're concerned, you've met all your responsibilities as a tenant. But it seems that your landlord doesn't share your view.
In this article, Éducaloi explains the responsibilities of tenants toward landlords and towards other tenants.
What are the basic responsibilities of tenants?
As a tenant, you have these responsibilities:
- pay the rent mentioned in the lease on the date required by the lease
- use the rental unit carefully and responsibly
- make necessary minor repairs
- to not change the form or destination (type of use) of your unit
- when you move out, return the unit in the same condition as when you moved in
- avoid disturbing the other tenants
When and how must tenants pay the rent?
Paying rent is an essential responsibility under the lease you signed with your landlord.
Unless you agreed to some other day in the lease, you must pay your rent on the first day of the month. If you pay it the next day, namely the second day of the month, you will be considered late in paying your rent. Your landlord could then apply to the Régie du logement (rental board) for an order requiring you to pay the amount owing.
If after three weeks, you have still not paid your rent, your landlord can apply to the Régie to have your lease cancelled. You can avoid cancellation by depositing the money owed, plus any interest owed, before the date the Régie will hear landlord’s request. Also, if you make a habit of paying your rent late and this causes the landlord serious hardship, the landlord can apply to cancel your lease.
To learn more, see our article Paying the Rent.
What does it mean to use my rental unit carefully and responsibly?
Because your right to live in your rental unit is temporary under the contract you signed with the landlord, you must use it responsibly.
This is a general obligation and it covers the unit's accessories and all aspects of its use. This means that you must do the following:
- Repair any damage due to deterioration. But if you can prove that the damage was not your fault, you won’t have to repair the damage.
- Notify the landlord of any defects or deterioration within a reasonable time so that the damage doesn’t get worse. For example, if you don't notify your landlord of a major plumbing problem and the pipes burst because of your negligence, the landlord can claim all or part of the cost of the repairs from you.
As a tenant, do I have to do any work or repairs?
You must do minor repairs and maintenance that don't involve much work. For example, you would be responsible for touching up paint and filling small holes in the walls. The Régie du logement can tell you what would be a minor repair.
By law, you are required to give the unit back in the same condition you received it.
However, you are not responsible for normal wear and tear or for deterioration or defects that are not your fault. To avoid conflicts, when you move in, it’s a good idea to take photos or prepare a document describing the condition of the unit.
Am I allowed to make changes in my rental unit?
Unless your lease allows it, you need the landlord’s permission to make major changes to your rental unit. For example, you can’t put up or tear down a wall to change how your unit is divided up.
If you build anything in the unit on your own initiative, you will have to remove it when your lease ends. But a landlord who wants to keep what you built will have to compensate you. If it’s impossible to remove your additions without damaging the property, the landlord will not have to pay you anything.
Can I turn my apartment into a commercial space?
This is usually not allowed for residential rental units. You can't turn your basement into a hairdressing salon or a ceramics studio. But you can do this if your landlord gives you permission and the zoning laws allow it.
What is the obligation to not disturb other tenants?
Under the law, you have an obligation to act reasonably to not disturb other tenants in the building. In other words, you must behave in a way that lets them peacefully enjoy their units.
The obligation also means that you can be held responsible for the actions of people living with you and anyone else you let into your unit. You could be sued for your behaviour or the behavior of people you let in, and might have to pay for the damage. You might even be forced to leave if the Régie du logement allows the landlord to cancel your lease.
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.