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Landlords: your rights and obligations when it comes to tenants

April 12 2017 by Multi-Prêts Hypothèques
What you'll learn
  • Your rights and obligations
  • How to find a tenant

Investing in rental properties in an informed fashion is an excellent way to generate extra income and create a legacy, as mentioned in our article A Practical Guide to Owning Income Property

Some investors, however, still steer clear of this market from fear of having to manage tenants. 

Although it is true that this aspect does have its share of risks and requires management, it’s important for you to know your rights and obligations to minimize the impact. 

Here are a few essential considerations: 

Finding tenants

It’s always in your best interest to be on site for potential tenant visits. Moreover, the current tenant can request it. 

It’s normal to ask a lot of questions. Income, occupation, number of occupants, pets are all essential subjects to discuss. You should, however, be careful to avoid any questions that could appear to infringe on their rights.  

You can ask for references from past landlords and employers, and information allowing you to see their credit history. That siad, it’s important to note that the prospective tenant is under no legal obligation to provide these to you. 

Check out our article to learn more about the type of information found in a credit report

Signing the lease

Contrary to what some might have you believe, you can insert a clause forbidding pets. For apartments with limited space, you can define a maximum number of occupants. 

While they can try to use it as a negotiation tactic, a new tenant cannot make you pay for paint unless the existing one is in poor condition. 

On your end, you can request that the tenant paint the apartment white before leaving if they plan on making numerous changes. 

Establish a payment method and date, but know that you can’t demand a deposit or postdated checks. Direct online transfers are now the most convenient way to go. 

Subletting and Airbnb

A tenant is allowed to sublet his apartment to someone else, but must inform you. 

It is, however, forbidden for a tenant to use the apartment for commercial purposes by repeatedly subletting it, be it through web platforms or otherwise. Recent rulings in Quebec have ruled in favour of the landlords. Read our article on Airbnb rentals to find out more.

Access to the property and renovations

You cannot show up at your tenant’s doorstep without giving him at least 24 hours written or verbal notice. You can carry out renovations from 7 am to 7 pm, and visits from 9 am to 9 pm. 
Unless he tried to reach you to inform you of a problem and you failed to respond within a reasonable delay, a tenant cannot ask you to reimburse renovations they undertook themselves. 

In case of dispute

Unfortunately, when it comes to serious problems such as failure to pay or inadequate treatment of the property by the tenant, the particular circumstances each bring their share of restrictions and solutions. Since these will be handled on a case-by-case basis, you’re better off seeking expert opinion, namely from the Régie du logement, before taking any further action. 

You can also contact the CORPIQ, Locateurs avertis and the APQ to get tips and follow workshops. They can even help you with your enquiries on prospective tenants. 

Key takeaways
  • You can ask prospective tenants for references and their credit history, but they are under no legal obligation to provide them. 
  • You can forbid pets and define a maximum number of occupants if the space justifies it. 
  • It is forbidden for a tenant to use the apartment for commercial purposes by repeatedly subletting it, be it through web platforms or otherwise.
  • In case of a dispute, you’re better off seeking expert opinion, namely from the Régie du logement, before taking any further action.