Tenant responsibilities in Quebec

Updated August 31, 2022

Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated the process of finding your dream apartment. You’ve settled in nicely and are discovering your new neighbourhood. But as a new tenant in Quebec, you have a certain number of responsibilities to uphold. This article will go over some of the basic responsibilities you have as a tenant so that you can avoid any unpleasant surprises in your new home.

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Paying the rent on time

The most important aspect of being a tenant is paying the rent on time.

Usually, rent is due on the first of the month, unless otherwise indicated in the lease. Anything after this date is considered late. Once it’s late, landlords have the right to file with the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL) to recover money due. After three weeks (or in the case of frequent late payments), the landlord can cancel the lease for failure to pay and obtain an eviction notice from the TAL.

However, the landlord cannot require a tenant to do any of the following:

  • Pay more than one month of rent at a time, such as the first and last month’s rent
  • Pay additional sums above and beyond the rent, such as a deposit for furniture or keys
  • Submit postdated cheques

Careful and responsible use of the rental unit

As a tenant, you are responsible for the careful and responsible use of the rental unit and everything in it. That means you must repair any damage to the unit, unless you can prove that this damage wasn’t your fault (for example, faulty plumbing).

You must also inform the landlord of any defects in the unit. For example, if the lock on the entrance door is defective, you have a duty to inform the landlord immediately or you could be held responsible for its repair because of your negligence.

Minor repairs

The law requires you to leave the rental unit in the same state it was when you moved in.

That is, unless you can prove that any damage or deterioration was not your fault, such as water damage from another unit. Tenants are responsible for minor repairs and maintenance, such as plugging small holes in the wall or cleaning any spills on the carpet.

To be on the safe side, you should always document the state of the unit by taking pictures when you move in.

Changes to the rental unit

Unless the lease stipulates otherwise, you will need the landlord’s permission to make major alterations to the rental unit.

You can’t just decide on a whim to knock down a wall to create more open space. Any changes you make to the unit must be reversed at the end of your lease. If you can’t do so without damaging the unit, the landlord has the option of paying you for their value.

But be careful: if it is impossible to remove the alterations, the landlord is not obliged to pay you anything.

Business use

If the lease is residential, you cannot convert your rental unit into a place of business, such as a workshop or an artist’s studio. However, it is possible to use your unit for business purposes if the landlord and the zoning bylaws allow it.

Avoiding disturbing other tenants

According to the Civil Code of Quebec, tenants must conduct themselves in a manner that allows their fellow tenants to peacefully enjoy their property.

And further, you are responsible for the people you allow into your unit, such as friends and guests. For example, you can certainly have people over for a party, but if you’re loud and disturb your fellow tenants, your landlord could apply to the TAL to have your lease cancelled.

Landlord visits

The landlord may need to access the unit for repairs or for rental showings.

For example, if you have given notice that you are not renewing the lease. In this case, the landlord may show the unit to potential tenants. Visits are allowed from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, and you can ask that the landlord or their representative be present, otherwise you have the right to refuse access.

Repairs must take place between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM, with the exception of emergency repairs (such as a burst pipe).

These are some of your basic responsibilities as a tenant.

For more information, please consult the following resources:

Commonly asked questions

Is it the tenant’s responsibility to repaint the walls?

The landlord is only responsible for painting the rental unit if the paint is peeling or in poor condition before the tenant’s arrival. Otherwise, the tenant is responsible for touching up paint. If you want to change the colour (providing the lease allows it), it is your responsibility. But remember, the landlord can ask you to repaint the walls white or a pale colour before you move out.

What damages can be charged to me as a tenant?

As a tenant, you are responsible for notifying the landlord of any defects or deterioration within a reasonable time. For example, if you notice the fridge is leaking but you fail to notify the landlord or take any preventive measures, your landlord could claim all or part of the repair costs from you. You are also responsible for leaving the unit in the same state as you found it. For example, if you damage the carpet and fail to repair it, the landlord can seek compensation from you.

Do tenants in Quebec have obligations to insure?

In Quebec, home insurance for tenants is not mandatory but highly recommended. For example, a tenant insurance policy would not only protect your belongings, but also offer you liability protection. For example, if you were to accidentally set fire to your apartment and damage the building or a neighbouring unit, liability coverage would cover damages and any lawsuit brought against you.

Want to learn more? Visit our Renter resource centre for more tips and information about life as a renter. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.

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