Landlord Demanding Illegal Deposits

Ingredients

  • Your rental agreement or lease
  • Knowledge of your rights and obligations as a tenant
  • Receipts

Say you are reading your lease or rental agreement for a new apartment you are interested in, and the landlord tells you or has written in the agreement that you must pay the first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit. Plus, there is a fee for keys and access to the laundry room. You really want the apartment and understand that the landlord wants to protect their property; but are these extra deposits legal?

No!

The Civil Code of Quebec stipulates that the landlord may ONLY ask for the first month of rent or a portion of the first month’s rent of as a form of deposit. This money may be requested in advance and cashed before you move into the apartment, however you should only pay after you have signed your lease.

Instructions

  1. Read through your entire lease agreement and any additional by-laws, rules, or regulations that apply to the building before you sign the lease
  2. Make a list of any fees beyond your monthly rent that your landlord is asking you to pay. These illegal requests for additional money from tenants may come in the form of last month’s rent, a ‘security’ deposit (to ensure you stay through your whole lease), a ‘damage’ deposit (in case anything happens to the apartment), fees for your keys, or service fees for laundry machines, kitchen appliances, pools, that you have already been granted access to in your lease agreement.
  3. Another illegal fee that tenants may encounter is a lease transfer or a sublet fee. The cost for such a process should not exceed the cost of a credit cheque currently valued at 20-30$. Consult Transferring your lease or Subletting your apartment to learn about what is and  is not legally required in order to pass on your lease.
  4. Inform your landlord that you will not pay any illegal fee or deposit. IMPORTANT: Signing any clause in your lease that is contradicts the Official Quebec Lease or the Civil Code of Quebec, such as a clause to pay extra fees,  is without effect even if signed. If for any reason you decide to pay a deposit make sure to receive a receipt for any amount of money you give your landlord.

For more information:
Consult this handout from the Régie du Logement on “Paying the Rent

FAQ

In my lease I signed for all the clauses that require me to pay these illegal deposits, what should I do?

Even if you sign a clause or document that says you waive your right or agree to pay the fees you cannot sign away your rights and the clause is automatically made invalid.

If I have already paid the deposits can I get my money back?

If you have a receipt for the deposit you may get it back or inform your landlord to put it towards your next month’s rent. You can do this by sending them a demand letter stating you are concerned about having paid an illegal deposit and that you want it put towards your next month’s rent. However, you must have proof of payment!