4 tips to avoid sketchy landlord practices

You can’t always count on landlords to follow, or be informed about Quebec housing regulations as administered by the Régie du Logement, therefore it is important for tenants to understand their rights before entering into a lease. Landlords sometimes ask for extra fees or include illegal clauses in the lease, therefore it is important for tenants to be vigilant.

1. Don’t Forget Your Receipt

According to the law in Quebec, asking the tenant for any deposits other than the first months’ rent in advance is illegal. This could mean key deposits, security deposits, last months’ rent deposits, and any other arbitrary deposit your landlord may come up. Keep in mind however, that your landlord may decide to rent the apartment to someone else, who will comply with their “rules” or who is ignorant of the law. Be wary of this, however if you decide that you are willing to give them a deposit and hope for the best, make sure to get detailed RECEIPTS! With this receipt you may be able to either ask for the money back in full or ask the landlord to put it towards your rent. Remember, always get a detailed receipt for any amount of money you put down.

2. Protect Your Private Information When Proving You Can Pay Rent

The Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec (CAIQ) is an organization committed to the protection of Québec residents’ personal information. They outline some important ways the tenant can protect their personal information when signing the lease:

  • The tenant can present a piece of ID to the landlord upon request so they can confirm their identity, but it is illegal for the landlord to photocopy and collect this information. The tenant is only required to provide their name, address and birth date so the landlord may conduct a credit check.
  • To prove their accountability and ability to pay for the potential new apartment, the tenant can present references from previous landlords who can speak on their behalf. The tenant may also conduct a credit check on themselves and present it to the landlord. Another option is to provide the landlord with receipts from paid utilities in the tenant’s name.
  • The landlord may request that a tenant in a precarious financial position (such as a full-time student) have a co-signer. This is perfectly legal; however it is not legal for the landlord to insist that the cosigner be Canadian.

3. Don’t Divulge Private Information

Another illegal practice is the landlord demanding private Information. Your privacy is important and landlords are not allowed access your personal information, therefore they may not ask for

  • Social Insurance Number: issued by the federal government for employment and taxation purposes. It is important to not share this number with anyone other than government institutions and employers as it gives the holder access to important government databases. This, in turn, could lead to identity theft.
  • Driver’s License & number: this piece of ID can only be demanded by a peace officer or by the driver’s license bureau, the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec. Not only is it unnecessary for a landlord to collect this information, but it could also pose an identity theft threat. You may however show your driver’s license to a landlord so they confirm your identity.
  • Health Insurance Card & number: only a health professional may demand this piece of ID. A landlord may not collect this information as once again, it poses an identity theft threat. You may also produce this piece of ID to confirm your name and birth date.
  • Passport: only government officials and border agents may demand this piece of ID. The information contained in a passport is particularly sensitive and therefore should not be collected on record by any entity other than a border agent. Naturally, the collection of this information could pose a major threat to someone’s identity. Nonetheless, you may present a passport to confirm your birth date and name.
  • Bank account numbers: only financial and government institutions can have this information, and as such, it should not be collected by the landlord. You can use an attestation from your financial institution confirming the fulfillment of your obligations; an attestation from a previous landlord confirming the fulfillment of his or her obligations; any other document from a goods or service s company that requires installment payments, attesting the fulfillment of your obligations such as a cellphone company – not necessarily from Canada – to prove your payment habits. You can also have a third party as your guarantor as rent surety. The guarantor isn’t required to be Canadian. Also, the guarantor is not renewed with the renewal of a lease unless otherwise stated in the original lease. For example, if you have a guarantor for a one year lease and you decide to stay in that apartment for another year your guarantor is not bound to ensure your rent for the renewed lease year.
  • Credit Card Numbers:  With the increasing amount of credit card fraud it is important to protect your credit card information like you would protect your cash. It is illegal for a non-commercial or financial institution to ask for this information no matter the reason.

4. Get Personal Information Back

If someone other than the mentioned officials has collected this information from you, consult Renting and Getting Personal Information Back.