Amid all the excitement of signing your lease at your new retirement home, don’t forget that a lease is a legal contract and you should know all the ins and outs of your rental agreement before proceeding. The Régie du logement (rental board) in Québec provides a form that must be filled out in any rental circumstance, including renting a room or renting an apartment. This document outlines the obligations that apply to both tenant and landlord. Similar to other contracts, once you sign it you are obligated to follow the agreements therein until the end date of the lease (unless there is consent from both parties).
Terms of your lease
Your lease is a document in which you and your landlord agree on the amount and terms of rent, the work to completed prior to or during the start of your lease (e.g. painting, small repairs) and other important information. If there are additional services that will be included with the accommodation, as is often the case with private retirement homes, they should be added to the appendix.
Basic services and extras
It’s important to verify that your lease agreement lists all basic services as being included in the rent (hydro, heat, maintenance, laundry, activities, etc.). For services that you can have on demand and for which you pay extra, you should list each of those services in the appendix with its price. If ever you want to cancel one of these additional services, it can then be deducted from your rent. Do not forget to indicate any special services, such as the diet your condition requires. Also, if you plan be away for an extended period of time (you spend the winter in Florida), make arrangements with the owner so you don’t pay for certain services (meals, laundry, etc.) during your absence, and make sure to include those details in the appendix. Always agree to the terms of your lease and have the details signed by both parties.
Granting access to your home
The rental board has laid out specific rules when it comes to the landlord having access to your home when you are renting a housing unit. The owner cannot enter your home at will, other than in the case of an emergency. However, if the landlord needs access to your dwelling, you cannot deny him access if work is required or if he needs to rent the unit following your notice of non-renewal of the lease. Here are some of the regulations as outlined by the rental board:
- If the owner must carry out minor work, he must give you 24 hours’ notice.
- If the owner has to carry out major work, he must give you 10 days’ notice.
- Work must be performed between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
- If you are required to leave the property temporarily for a period exceeding 7 days, he must give you at least three months’ notice.
Submitting a complaint to the rental board
If ever you consider the work proposed by the owner to be imposing or problematic, you can file a complaint with the rental board. If you are not receiving a service that was outlined in your lease, you can also let the rental board know. If an amicable agreement between renter and owner is not possible, you can send the owner a notice. If nothing changes, you can file a complaint with the rental board, which will issue a judgment after the hearing.
Terminating your lease
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot terminate a lease at any time or for any reason, simply by giving three months’ notice. According to the rental board, there are only three conditions that would allow you to terminate your lease without penalty:
- A resident is provided with low-rent housing (HLM)
- A resident can no longer occupy his dwelling due to a disability
- A resident is permanently admitted to a residential long-term care home or a retirement (or pre-retirement) home
If you wish to terminate your lease for one of the abovementioned reasons, you must notify your landlord with a letter. Ideally, you would send a registered letter that serves as proof, at least three months in advance to your landlord. If you prefer to hand-deliver the letter, be sure to write the date of receipt on your copy as proof and to have it signed by the landlord. The landlord will terminate your lease 3 months after having received your notice. It is possible to vacate your dwelling before the three-month period has elapsed, but you would then be responsible for rent payments during those three months. However, if during this time, the owner rents the apartment to another resident, you could be free of your obligations earlier, but this is at his discretion since the law does not mandate it.
In the case of death
If the person renting a room in a private residence passes away, their lease is not immediately terminated. In fact, if the deceased resident lived alone, the estate should terminate the lease by giving the landlord three months’ notice. If ever the owner rents the apartment within those three months, the lease is cancelled at that time.
If the deceased person lived in a retirement or pre-retirement residence, the estate may be responsible for paying for three months’ worth of meals, unless they come to an agreement with the owner (unless it was already listed in the appendix portion of the lease). If the estate and the owner cannot reach an agreement, the rental board will intervene.
If the resident did not live alone at the time of death, the spouse of the deceased can take over the lease in his or her name by sending a notice to the owner within two months following the death.
A Residences Advisor can help you sign a lease at a private Senior’s residence:
If you are looking for a private residence or you would like more information about signing a lease, a Residences Advisor in the West-Island of Montréal could be the perfect resource to help you. They are available to provide support to seniors and their families. Contact a Residences Advisor by calling (514) 996-2887.