The lease is the most important tool for a tenant. This legally binding contract between tenant and landlord means you have legal recourse as it enables you to be covered by the housing laws of the Régie du logement. There are different scenarios in which you may sign a written agreement in regards to your dwelling:
Figure out where you stand:
- Will you have a written agreement (lease) with the person who owns the dwelling (landlord) or one of their representatives (management company etc.) This means you are a tenant and you are covered by the Régie du logement.
If your roommates will also be on the lease then you will all be joint-tenants. This means you and your roommates are bound by a legal contract with your landlord. You may want to consider writing a joint-tenancy agreement with them.
- Maybe you will have a written agreement with the person you are living with, who already has a written agreement with the landlord that you are not involved with, this means you are an occupant. In this case you will not be covered by the Régie du logement-unless there are 3 of you or more, then you are occupants covered by the Régie du logement. Power in numbers!
- Finally, maybe you live with the person who owns the dwelling-this makes you a boarder. In this case you are entitled to legal recourse through the Régie du logement if you have access to a separate bathroom and have a separate entrance than the owner.
What does ‘being covered’ do for me anyways?
In short if you are covered by the Régie du logement, you have RIGHTS AS A TENANT! This may not seem overly exciting right now, but imagine if something breaks in your apartment or you get bedbugs or your neighbors start playing very loud music every night. This all becomes your landlords responsibility as they are LEGALLY responsible to ensure your ‘peaceful enjoyment of the dwelling’.
It also means that if there are things promised in your lease that are not being delivered-you can send a demand letter to your landlord and they have a legal responsibility to oblige!
Remember: You cannot sign away your rights! You are protected by the Quebec Civil Code (lease or no lease) which states that you cannot sign your rights away. Therefore if there is an illegal clause in a lease you have signed-it is void! For example: Your lease stipulates a 200$ fee for a sublet but according to the Régie it is illegal to charge a fee for a sublet (as it is your right as a tenant to do so) thus this clause is void even if you have signed the lease.