The Civil Code of Québec provides that the landlord must provide the tenant a dwelling in good habitable condition (art.1910-1911). Thus, it is the responsibility of the landlord to do maintenance and repairs needed at the beginning of the lease and maintain the dwelling in good condition throughout the lease.
Any problems that are immediately dangerous to health or safety of the tenant are considered an emergency repair (ex. Pipes that freeze during winter or roof which may flood you).
- For urgent repairs, you must notify your landlord as soon as possible (by registered mail or by phone with witness). By doing so, you protect yourself from any liability.
- If your landlord does not act in time after being warned, you can undertake the repairs yourself provided the expenses are reasonable and absolutely necessary for the dwelling.
- You must later be reimbursed by your landlord or, if necessary, deduct the cost of repairs on the rent upon presentation of photocopied bills and receipts. It is therefore very important to keep all of these.
Note that upon notice, you cannot object to urgent and necessary repairs.
Major repairs versus minor
All major repairs are the responsibility of the landlord as well as the usual repairs that require a little more knowledge such as broken locks, water pipe or sanitation.
On your side, you are required to take charge of small maintenance repairs.
In order for your landlord to correctly fulfill his obligations, you must notify him of substantial defects and damage that occur to the leased dwelling.
In the event of repairs that are neither urgent nor major but still need to be undertaken in the dwelling (e.g. A bedroom door that does not close), but the landlord does nothing after having been noticed, the solution is to undertake an application to the Tribunal administratif du logement.
Access to dwelling
Does my landlord can enter my apartment whenever he wants?
If your landlord wants to do work in your home, you cannot deny him access.
However, you can restrict access to a period ranging from 7am to 7pm when the repairs are not urgent.
The landlord must, unless an emergency, give you a 24 hours notice when he wishes to verify the state of the unit or perform repairs.
If I have to leave my apartment temporarily, what are my rights?
When the landlord plans to make a major improvement or a major repair, he must notify you. The notice should state:
- The nature of the work he will undertake;
- The date on which the repairs will start;
- An estimation of their duration;
- Reasonable compensation when the temporary evacuation of the tenant is unavoidable.
You must receive this notice:
- At least ten (10) days before the start of work in the case of an evacuation period of one week or less, or
- At least three (3) months prior to a temporary evacuation of more than a week.
Later, you have ten (10) days to inform your landlord of your intention to comply. If you do not respond, you are presumed to have refused to leave your apartment.
If you refuse to leave or simply refuse the conditions surrounding the evacuation notice, the landlord has ten (10) days to apply to the Tribunal administratif du logement for the consideration of the nature of the work, their duration, the evacuation or not the lessee and the compensation to which the tenant is entitled.
Note that when you return to your apartment after major repairs, you continue to pay the same rent as before departure. The next possible increase will only be at the renewal of the lease.
Also, it goes without saying that the landlord must give back the apartment in clean condition at the end of the repairs.
Unsanitary and dwelling unfit for habitation
There is a distinction between unsanitary housing and dwelling unfit for habitation. For housing to be considered unfit for habitation, it has to be objectively considered a serious threat to health or have been declared as such by the Tribunal administratif du logement (Régie) or a competent authority, such as the municipal inspector. So it is best to seek the housing inspection offered by the city.
Examples of improper housing could include constant presence of cockroaches or rats after several attempts of extermination, widespread mold (with expert evidence) and the lack of hot water, electricity, sufficient heating or windows.
However, a dwelling is generally not considered unfit for habitation if it has a hole in the wall, lack of interior doors, presence of insects, worn flooring, etc.
When under the lease the obligation to heat the dwelling is up to the landlord, he must do it when the temperature requires it, regardless of the date or time of the year. In its rules, the City of Montreal set the minimum temperature at 21 °C in housing and 15 °C in public areas.
If the heating is not included in the rent, the heaters must nevertheless give the possibility to achieve a temperature of 21 °C in housing.
To calculate the temperature of your apartment, you must write the external and internal temperatures for days at fixed times. The temperature should be measured at the center of each room, one meter above the ground.
City of Montreal : 311
Public Health Office : 514-528-2400