Housing and Property

Responsibilities of Tenants


When we rent an apartment, we have to respect a certain number of obligations: paying the rent, doing minor maintenance, respect for our neighbours… In exchange, the landlord also has certain responsibilities.

What are the basic responsibilities of tenants?

As a tenant, you have these responsibilities:

  • pay the rent mentioned in the lease on the date required by the lease
  • use the rental unit carefully and responsibly
  • make necessary minor repairs
  • to not change the form or destination (type of use) of your unit
  • when you move out, return the unit in the same condition as when you moved in
  • avoid disturbing the other tenants

When and how must tenants pay the rent?

Paying rent is an essential responsibility under the lease you signed with your landlord.

Unless you agreed to some other day in the lease, you must pay your rent on the first day of the month. If you pay it the next day, namely the second day of the month, you will be considered late in paying your rent. Your landlord could then apply to the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL, formerly the Régie du logement or rental board) for an order requiring you to pay the amount owing.

If after three weeks, you have still not paid your rent, your landlord can apply to the TAL to have your lease cancelled. You can avoid cancellation by paying the landlord the rent owed, plus any interest owed, before the TAL hearing or at the time of the hearing, before the TAL issues its decision. Also, if you frequently pay your rent late and this causes the landlord serious hardship, the landlord can apply to cancel your lease.

To learn more, see our article Paying the Rent.

What does it mean to use my rental unit carefully and responsibly?

Because your right to live in your rental unit is temporary, under the lease you signed with the landlord, you must use it responsibly.

This is a general obligation and it covers the unit’s accessories and all aspects of its use. This means that you must do the following:

  • Repair any damage due to deterioration. But if you can prove that the damage was not your fault, you won’t have to repair the damage.
  • Notify the landlord of any defects or deterioration within a reasonable time so that the damage doesn’t get worse. For example, if you don’t notify your landlord of a major plumbing problem and the pipes burst because of your negligence, the landlord can claim all or part of the cost of the repairs from you.

As a tenant, do I have to do any work or make repairs?

You must do minor repairs and maintenance that don’t involve much work. For example, you would be responsible for touching up paint and filling small holes in the walls. The TAL can tell you what would be a minor repair.

By law, you are required to give the unit back in the same condition you received it.

However, you are not responsible for normal wear and tear or for deterioration or defects that are not your fault. To avoid conflicts, when you move in, it’s a good idea to take photos or prepare a document describing the condition of the unit.

Am I allowed to make changes in my rental unit?

Unless your lease allows it, you need the landlord’s permission to make major changes to your rental unit. For example, you can’t put up or tear down a wall to change how your unit is divided.

If you build anything in the unit on your own initiative, you will have to remove it when your lease ends. If they cannot be removed without damaging the apartment, the landlord can choose to keep them and pay you for their value. If it’s simply impossible to remove them, the landlord will not have to pay you anything.

Can I turn my apartment into a commercial space?

This is usually not allowed for residential rental units. You can’t turn your basement into a hairdressing salon or a ceramics studio. But you can do this if your landlord gives you permission and the zoning laws allow it.

What is the obligation to not disturb other tenants?

Under the law, you have an obligation to act reasonably and not disturb other tenants in the building. In other words, you must behave in a way that lets them peacefully enjoy their units.

The obligation also means that you can be held responsible for the actions of people living with you and anyone else you let into your unit. You could be sued for your – or their – behavior, and for any damages caused. The landlord could even apply to the TAL to cancel you lease. If the request is granted, you would have to leave your apartment.

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