When it comes to paying the rent, neither the landlord nor the tenant can make up the rules! To prevent lateness and other problems, the law provides strict rules regarding rent payment, as well as recourses if problems do arise.
As a tenant, what are my obligations when it comes to paying the rent?
- You must pay your rent on the first day of every month, unless your lease says something else.
- Rent must be paid in equal payments, except for the last payment, which can be for a smaller amount.
- If you and your landlord don’t have an agreement on how the rent will be paid, the landlord or the landlord’s representative must go to your home to collect it. If you are out when that person comes to collect, it is up to you to send your rent to the landlord by the deadline mentioned in the lease.
What method can I use to pay my rent?
You can pay rent by cash, a certified cheque, a bank money order, a postal money order, or any other way accepted by the landlord. So, even if most landlords accept ordinary cheques, they don’t have to accept this way of paying.
Payment can also be made by electronic transfer of funds or credit card if your landlord accepts it.
Note: It is a good idea to ask for a receipt for your rent payment. It can be proof of payment if your landlord claims he never received it.
Who do I give the rent payment to?
As a general rule, you should give your rent payment to the person identified in your lease as the landlord. If you must personally deliver your rent payment, make sure you give it directly to the landlord or a representative of the landlord. Otherwise, if there is a problem, you might have to pay your rent again.
If you are not sure who to pay, (e.g., if your landlord has sold the building without telling you), you can go to the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL, formerly Régie du logement or rental board) and ask for authorization to deposit your rent with them. The same applies if your landlord can’t be found, refuses the payment or doesn’t respect his responsibilities. In situations where a landlord doesn’t respect his responsibilities, you must give him a written notice stating the reasons. The notice must be given at least 10 days before you go to the TAL.
If the TAL allows the rent deposits, they can be made at any office of the TAL in cash, by certified cheque, certified money order, bank draft, or postal money order made out to the “TAL in trust”. With your payment, you must include a copy of the TAL’s decision authorizing you to leave the rent with the TAL. The rent deposited with the TAL can be withdrawn with the written consent of the landlord and the tenant.
When it comes to paying rent, what is not allowed?
Your landlord cannot do these things:
- demand any payment other than your rent payment (e.g., a deposit for your keys)
- demand that you pay more than the amount shown in the lease
- demand any advance payment of rent except for the first month’s rent when the lease is signed
- demand that rent be paid by post-dated cheques
- increase your rent during the term of your lease
- demand instalments of different amounts. For example: $ 500 for the first month, $ 520 the following months, and $ 530 for the last month. However, the law allows your landlord to make your last rent instalment lower than the rest.
- demand the full amount of rent if you failed to pay one rent instalment
Any statements in your lease that say your landlord can do these things are not valid. Since these things are not allowed, you don’t need to follow them, even if you signed the lease. You can ask the TAL to help protect your rights.
What happens if I pay my rent late?
Obligation to Pay Rent
The law says that the rent must be paid to the landlord on the first day of every month or of every term (unless the lease indicates otherwise).
When the rent is paid on the first day of each month, you are considered to be late as of the second day.
But if your lease says that you must pay the rent on the 15th day of the month, you are considered to be late as of the 16th. In theory, the landlord can ask the TAL to recover the money you owe as soon as you are late.
Cancellation of Your Lease for Late Payment
If your rent is three weeks (21 days) late, or more, your landlord can ask the TAL to “resiliate” (cancel) your lease. You can stop the lease from being cancelled by paying the landlord the rent owed (plus costs and interest) either before the TAL hearing or at the hearing itself, before the TAL issues its decision.
Your landlord can also ask the TAL to cancel your lease if you frequently pay your rent late and this is causing him serious harm. For example, your late payments are causing him to pay extra interest on his mortgage.
My landlord is raising my rent! Is this allowed?
Your landlord cannot increase your rent during your lease. However, the landlord can send you a notice stating that your rent will increase if you renew your lease.
This notice of rent increase must be in writing. It must also be sent to you within a certain time period:
- three to six months before your lease ends if you have a lease of one year or more
- one to two months before your lease ends if you have a lease of less than 12 months
- for a lease with no set end date, the notice must be sent between one and two months before the rent increase is to take place
Contrary to popular belief, there is no legal “maximum” increase. However, tenants have options if they disagree with a rent increase. For more information, see our article Renewing a Residential Lease and Rent Increases.
Do I have to keep paying rent if my apartment is not liveable and I have to leave?
No, unless it is your fault that you can no longer live in your apartment.
If it is not your fault, you must notify your landlord of the situation in writing no later than 10 days from when you leave the apartment.
Remember that there is a difference between an apartment that needs maintenance or repairs, even major ones, and an apartment that you have to leave to protect your health and safety. The distinction might be obvious if your building is about to collapse, a fire damaged the premises or a flood occurred, but many cases aren’t as clear.
To find out if you should leave, you can call the TAL, get a recommendation from municipal health authorities or consult a professional for advice. To learn more, read our article Poor Housing Conditions: The Tenants’ Recourses.