6 Dos and Don’ts of Renting an Apartment in Montreal — What Students Need to Know
Montreal’s housing market is notoriously difficult to navigate, even for people who have lived here their entire lives. For those outside of Montreal, especially international students, it’s okay to be unaware of your housing rights and the regulations that protect them. This can cause people to fall for scams and make avoidable mistakes that can make or break their time in the city.
Fortunately, organizations like Concordia University’s Housing and Job Resource Center (HOJO) are there to support students, who make up a significant percentage of Montreal‘s renters each year. MTL Blog asked the experts at HOJO about the problems that international student tenants often face and how to avoid getting into an awkward situation. These tips are good for everyone – we all deserve safe, affordable, scam-free housing!
Here are the do’s and don’ts of renting as an international student in Montreal.
DO sign an official Quebec lease.
It’s your right as a tenant to have an official lease, especially because they detail Quebec housing regulations on the document itself. Your landlord must provide you with one, and you can check the documents you receive against the templates available from the government.
DON’T send money to a landlord before signing your lease.
It is common for landlords to ask unwilling tenants for extra money, sometimes even before a formal agreement has been signed. This is not how renting works, and you should always wait for your lease to be signed before sending your rent – the only amount your landlord is allowed to charge you. HOJO explained that often, international students without a credit history or Canadian references may feel pressured to accept additional requests from landlords in their attempts to find housing. Even if you are a newcomer with no credit or connections, you still have the same housing rights, no matter how much your landlord insists.
DO retain unnecessary personal information.
“International students may feel like they have to give a potential landlord all the information they can ask for,” HOJO explained, “but that’s not the case.” Landlords can never ask you for your SIN, credit card number, driver’s license, passport number, student visa, health insurance number, or bank account number.
DON’T pay your lease with bitcoin, coupons or any other untraceable currency.
These payment methods, while crypto may be all the rage, make it dangerously easy for landlords to scam you out of your precious student income. It’s important to pay your rent by traceable methods, both for any future legal action and to make sure your landlord can’t claim you never paid.
DO your own background checks on any suspicious landlords or real estate agents.
“Suspect” here means any owner who claims to be out of the country. According to HOJO, this is a common tactic used in rental scams. “The scammers may even pretend to be an agent for a real estate company or a management company acting on behalf of a landlord who is out of the country,” they told MTL Blog. To check if your potential landlord is legitimate, try looking in the municipal directory of Montreal landowners. You can also do a simple Google search to verify that the management company is not six crooks in trench coats.
DON’T pay your landlord any down payment or fees in addition to the first month’s rent (or part of it).
Landlords in Quebec are not permitted to request a fee or deposit from a tenant or potential tenant. Common examples of illegal charges are application fees, security deposits, key deposits, or furniture deposits, according to HOJO. Your landlord can only ask you to pay part, or all, of the first month’s rent up front, nothing else.
There are many resources to help new tenants navigate the chaotic housing market. If you find yourself in a difficult situation with your landlord, particularly in the case of discrimination, HOJO recommends that you contact the Housing Committee, which is there to help you.
You can also consult this hub of housing resources, co-created by HOJO and the student housing association UTILE, or visit the website of the housing tribunal (the Tribunal administratif du logement, formerly called Régie du logement), which has tenancy jurisdiction – related disputes.