Housing and Property

Unpaid or Overdue Rent: What to Expect


Having trouble paying rent or paying it on time? Worried about the consequences?

Landlords have recourses to ensure tenants pay their rent. In some cases, you could even lose your apartment. But there are ways to prevent this.

Paying the rent

As a tenant, you must pay your rent and respect the terms of your lease regarding its payment: the amount, date, frequency, payment method, etc.

The law does, however, prohibit certain practices by your landlord regarding paying the rent. For example, your landlord cannot demand payment that exceeds a month’s rent or oblige you to pay the rent for the entire lease if you don’t pay on time.

If you share a rental unit, you may have to pay your co-tenant’s share of the rent if they don’t. This is the case if your lease states that paying your rent is a joint obligation.

Important! Even if your landlord doesn’t meet some of their obligations, like making necessary repairs to your apartment, you must continue paying your rent. You cannot decide to take the law into your own hands by simply stopping payments or going on a “rent strike”.

Unpaid rent: avoiding legal action

If you think you’ll be unable to pay your rent on time, you can discuss the situation with your landlord and try to reach an agreement. Your landlord may be willing to give you an extension.

Your landlord may send you a demand letter to inform you that you haven’t paid your rent. This letter is a type of final warning before legal action is taken.

You can respond to this letter in several ways, like paying the rent owing, or contacting your landlord to explain they are mistaken, if that is the case.

Your landlord’s application to the Tribunal administratif du logement

If no agreement has been reached with your landlord, they can apply to the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL, formerly Régie du logement or rental board). The landlord can ask for different things, depending on the situation.

Collecting the amount owed

Once you’re behind on your rent, your landlord can ask the TAL to order you to pay the amount that you owe. Rent is usually due on the first day of every month, unless otherwise stated in the lease. Payment is considered late as of the next day.

Cancelling your lease

Your landlord can request that the TAL cancel your lease and evict you from your apartment, in the following situations.

Your rent is often late

Your landlord can ask the TAL to cancel your lease if your payments are frequently late and this causes serious harm to the landlord, for example, resulting in late mortgage payments.

Even in this situation, the TAL won’t necessarily cancel your lease immediately. Instead, it may give you a “last chance” and order you to pay your rent on time in the future. If you don’t respect this order, your landlord can make a new application to the TAL to terminate your lease.

Your rent is more than three weeks late

If your landlord shows that your rent is more than three weeks late, the TAL will cancel your lease and you’ll have to move out. In this situation, the TAL decides, on a case-by-case basis, how much time a tenant will have to leave their place.

Important! Even if your landlord has already applied to the TAL to cancel your lease for rent more than three weeks late, you can still avoid eviction by paying the rent owed, plus interest and the landlord’s cost for filing the application, before the TAL issues its decision.