Failure of an occupant to pay rent

Ingredients

So you’re sharing an apartment with a joint tenants, and everything is peachy until all of a sudden one person fails to pay the rent in full. If this person is not on the lease but has an agreement with the tenant who is on the lease, that person is classified as an occupant.  An occupant is not covered by the Régie du logement, so it can be a little unclear as to what to do in that situation. As the official tenant on the lease, you don’t want to be held responsible for your roommate’s non-payment, so follow these steps in order to figure out your next move.

Instructions:

  1. Have an honest conversation with the occupant. You don’t necessarily know the full story about why they have not paid, so give them a chance to explain. See if you are able to resolve the issue without breaking down the communication or escalating the situation.
  2. If the issue cannot be resolved through conversation, you may want to send your roommate a demand letter. This letter will act as legal proof, if you send it through registered mail, that although you have a legally binding agreement, the occupant is not fulfilling the responsibility of payment. Although this letter will not be useful in the context of the Régie du logement, you may able to seek recourse in a civil court, such as the Small Claims Court.
  3. After you have sent a demand letter through registered mail and the roommate still refuses to pay, you as the tenant may choose to ask that person to leave, so that you can find someone who can pay the rent. This should also be done through a letter or written notice, and usually corresponds to the end of a month-long period.
  4. You may also attempt to recover the unpaid rent in the Small Claims Court. If this is the case, make sure you have all your documents organized  and conduct  the necessary research in order to file a claim.

FAQ

Can I be held responsible for my occupant’s failure to pay rent?

Yes, if you are the tenant responsible for the apartment, and the landlord does not receive the rent in full, you could be taken to the Régie du logement for non-payment of rent. Therefore, you should take action to make sure the rent gets paid in full.

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What if I have given written notice to the occupant asking them to leave but they refuse to comply?

As the official tenant, you have the right to share the apartment with occupants who will pay the rent. If your roommate refuses to pay the rent and also refuses to leave the premises, you have the right to change the locks (with the landlord’s consent) if things escalate. Try and reach a resolution, perhaps with the help of mediator, before it gets to this point. Warn them that if they refuse to leave after a certain time frame, the lock will be changed.

How do I file at the Small Claims Court?

The first step to filing a claim will be sending an official demand letter by registered mail to your roommate describing the situation. Consult this website for more information about how to file: http://www.educaloi.qc.ca/en/capsules/small-claims-court-how-prepare