It’s rent increase season. Many renters are caught off guard when they receive a sometimes salty notice from their landlord. We offer explanations.
• Also read: Inflation drives rent increases
• Also read: Tenants who are already under pressure denounce excessive rent increases
Four out of ten households in Quebec are renters. Many of them are reluctant to contest the rent increases their landlord is asking for, even though many are asking for much more than what was proposed by the Administrative Housing Tribunal (TAL, or former Quebec Housing Authority) on Monday.
“Many tenants are reluctant to apply for fear of losing their home,” explains Yvon Dinel, community organizer at the Ahuntsic-Cartierville Housing Committee. However, there is no danger! Others are pressured by their landlord, who threatens not to complete certain work as quickly as requested…”
According to the Regrouping of Housing Committees and Tenant Associations of Quebec (RCLALQ), a minority of tenants are turning to the TAL for fear of administrative delays. “Tenants win their case but it takes months because this court is deadlocked. These steps are psychologically difficult for many tenants, they feel helpless,” comments Cédric Dussault, spokesman for RCLALQ.
According to this body, the TAL rent determination mechanism is used very little: of the 7,200 cases processed in 2020-2021, only 275 were brought by tenants. However, in a study, the RCLALQ reports average increases of 9% in Quebec between 2021 and 2022. In some cities it is even the explosion: Granby: 54.5%, Valleyfield: 34.5%, Trois-Rivières: 29.9 %, Joliette: 27.6%; Sherbrooke: 26.5%!
How it works
Normally, a lease is renewed automatically. If a landlord intends to ask for a rent increase, he must submit a request to change the lease agreement three to six months before it expires, by notifying his tenant. With most leases in Quebec ending at the end of June, many notices are sent out between January 1st and March 31st.
The renter has 30 days to respond. If he does not do this, it means that he accepts the requested increase. If he wishes to vacate or contest an increase he deems abusive, he has 30 days to do so in writing.
Normally, a negotiation begins between landlord and tenant to set a reasonable rent for them. If no agreement can be reached, the landlord and tenant have 30 days to submit an application for a rent review to the TAL. Later, the landlord and tenant are summoned to a hearing before a judge who, after hearing the parties, sets the rental price.
By the way: If you feel overwhelmed, you can contact the housing advisory board in your district or municipality. This committee offers free workshops on the steps to contest a lease and how to judge for yourself if the request is justified.
- Do you intend to contest a request for a raise? Send a registered letter to your landlord as proof.
- It is always better to avoid going to the TAL and deal with the owner in good faith. In order to facilitate the discussions, the latter should provide documents to justify his request (utility bills, insurance, renovations, tax assessments, etc.).
- You can get your owner’s council and school tax accounts for free by contacting your council (this information is usually public). In Montreal, they are available online.
- To find a housing committee • 1-866-521-7114.
- TAL Info • 1-800-683-2245.
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