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Renting an apartment: Tenants’ rights the grounds for terminating a lease

Living in an apartment is something that many people experience at some point. Whether you had to leave the family home to pursue an education or to work or prefer to rent than own a house, it is not always easy. In fact, since you live in the property of another person (your landlord), you must maintain a healthy relationship with them to avoid problems.

Know your rights and obligations as a tenant and how to seek recourse for rental problems.

This relationship is as much legal as it is personal. It comes with rights and obligations on both sides. When the situation escalates and obligations are no longer met, there is sometimes a reason to terminate the lease. If you think you are in such a situation, see what a lawyer can do to help you!


What investigation can a landlord do before signing the lease?

If you’ve ever rented an apartment or been a landlord of an apartment, you know that usually a landlord does some “investigation” about the potential tenant before they sign the lease. However, in the age of increasingly intrusive communications technology, you might be wondering how far your landlord can go in gathering information.

The credit check. To ensure rent payment is on time and in full, the law allows landlords to perform credit checks on their future tenants to verify their history. Such verification is done with the consent of the tenant. The latter only has to provide his name, date of birth, and current address.

Identity information. Landlords also have the right to require you to show them identification to confirm that you are who you say you are. Whether you provide an insurance card, a driver’s license, or your passport, the landlord cannot photocopy it or collect the information on it.

Reference documents. Although this is not usual, landlords are entitled to ask for references from previous landlords on the tenant’s attitude, payment habits, etc.

Information that a landlord cannot demand.  Under no circumstances can a landlord require that you present your passport, your driver’s license, or even your health insurance card. These are official documents which can only be requested by the institutions that issue them.

The rights and obligations of the tenant

As the tenant of a house owned by another person, you have obligations to respect in order to comply with the law and the terms of your lease. On the other hand, respecting the obligations of your lease also comes with fundamental rights protected by law. Here are the main obligations that come with your situation:

A tenant has rights and obligations under the law.


Payment of rent: Whether it is the first of the month or on the date agreed between the parties, the rent is the element allowing maintenance in the premises. From the day after the late payment, the landlord can calculate the interest due and has a right of appeal. When the rent is late for 3 weeks, an appeal to terminate the lease can be initiated.
Maintenance of the premises: The tenant agrees to maintain the rented accommodation in a good and adequate state. As the latter will eventually leave the accommodation, he must keep it in an orderly state.

Urgent repairs: When a breakage occurs in a dwelling, the tenant has an obligation to have urgent repairs carried out in order to preserve the integrity of the dwelling. Urgent repairs are those which cannot wait for the intervention of the landlord in good time.

Allow access: The owner has the right to access the accommodation to do work or to show it when the tenant has expressed his intention to leave the accommodation at the end of the lease.

Conform with the destination: In terms of real estate rental, the “destination” refers to the use that is usually made of the apartment. For example, a building intended for residential use should not have dwellings used for commercial purposes.



Maintenance in the premises: When a tenant complies with all his obligations and the owner continues to rent the accommodation, he is entitled to maintain the premises, that is to say, to renew his lease at the same conditions (with the reasonable increase provided by law).

Safe and healthy environment: A tenant has the right to safe housing free of elements that could harm his health. The price of the rent has no impact on this right; it remains, whatever the type of dwelling.

Subletting: The holder of a rental lease is entitled to sublet his home to a third party. However, this process must be done with the approval of the owner of the building who, in turn, must have very good reasons to refuse the proposed candidate.

Peaceful enjoyment: This element of the rental consists in the fact that the lessor does not constantly intervene in the life of the tenant. Although he owns the building, a landlord is not expected to show up at his tenant’s apartment frequently and unexpectedly; his visiting rights are limited to the situations provided for by law

The rights and obligations of the owner

As the residential lease is a contract, it involves a personal legal relationship between two individuals. We have just seen the state of affairs on the tenant side, but the law being the voice of justice, it also contains provisions in favor of the landlord.

Both a landlord and tenant can hire a lawyer to help settle a dispute regarding a lease contract.


Maintenance of the premises: While a landlord must respect the privacy of the tenant, the latter is required to keep the apartment in good condition and to prevent any untimely deterioration.

Receipt of rent: A tenant must pay the rent on time. With each obligation is a duty as a corollary!


Delivery of housing: This term refers to the owner’s obligation to provide the agreed accommodation on the due date but also in a clean and sanitary condition. When this is not the case, the tenant will be entitled to terminate the lease.

Necessary (or agreed) work: When a dwelling is in poor condition before signing the lease, a landlord must undertake to carry out the work necessary for the integrity of the building as well as those agreed upon in the lease.

Respect the destination: Just as a tenant of a residential building could not manage a store in such a building, an owner could not set up a commercial operation that would disturb the peace of the inhabitants or even change the destination of the housing being rented.

What are the grounds for terminating a lease provided for by law?

Termination is the last resort to end a situation that can no longer continue like this. When the relationship between you and your landlord turns toxic, it’s time to end it. But is it still that simple? Far from there! You must meet the criteria provided by law to end a rental lease! Here are the criteria for the tenant and the owner!


  • A landlord disturbs the peaceful enjoyment of his tenants. (Ex: frequent and impromptu visits, abusive communication, unauthorized access, etc.)
  • The landlord failed in his obligation to carry out the work necessary or agreed between the parties to keep the premises safe. (Ex: owner refuses to repair leaking piping)
  • The landlord lets his building deteriorate and become unsanitary. (Ex: presence of mold in the walls.)
  • The landlord changes the destination of the accommodation (Ex: makes the accommodation a business).
  • Termination by the tenant (without recourse): The law provides that certain situations will justify the termination of the lease without needing recourse to the housing authority when:
    • The tenant becomes eligible for a low-rental apartment.
    • The tenant becomes unable to live in his apartment due to a disability.
    • The tenant moves to a long-term hospital care center.
    • The safety of a tenant or their child is threatened by a situation of domestic and / or sexual violence.
    • Death of the tenant.
  • Termination by the owner. The owner will also be entitled to request the termination of the lease from the housing authority when:
  • The tenant frequently pays their rent late
  • The tenant damages the accommodation
  • The tenant is more than 3 weeks late in paying the rent.
  • The tenant disturbs the right of the other tenants to the peaceful enjoyment of their apartment.

    Let Compare Lawyers find the lawyer for your recourse to the housing authority

    Find a lawyer to help you seek recourse with the housing authority.

    Whether you are a tenant or a landlord embroiled in a dispute filed with the Régie du logement, you have rights to assert and respect. As a lease is a two-way contract, it is quite normal to want to enforce the terms of the agreement. However, housing agency appeals being what they are, you should do business with a lawyer who is knowledgeable in this type of recourse.

    Compare Lawyers can help you find such an expert by connecting you with the best lawyers in the province for real estate and lease disputes.

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