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Watch Your Rent Fool!

Posted by Michael / February 12, 2008

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Montreal is known for a couple of important things: French people, strip clubs and relatively cheap rent.

A lot of people are probably saying right now: cheap rent, what? Yeah, I know, not so cheap right? But I also know a guy in Vancouver who pays $900.00 for a brick-in-the-wall studio apartment. Right now, he’s probably out of milk, and needs some for his Kraft Dinner.

Anyways, enclosed in this blog are a couple of fun-facts about tenant rights, things that’ll make you go ‘hell yeah!’

Together, we can keep Montreal affordable.

First, you can always negotiate the rent increase. Just because the title is ‘landlord’ does not mean their word is sacred and you must abide. If you think your being ripped, then negotiate the numbers. Fight for your right to a fair price.

Last week, the Regie du Logement released its proposed guidelines for rent increases in 2008. The basic per month increase should be 0.7%. The amount then increases for heating costs, property tax and renovations.

Landlords feel the guidelines are unreasonable. Apparently, so do tenants. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Counsel, average rent increase in and around Montreal’s four Universities was 5.6% in 2007. On the plateau this average was 11.7%

On the Regie’s website there are forms available for your landlord that he or she can use to justify the rent increase. Make the landlord use it, and they’ll have to justify an increase amount higher then 0.7% this year. For example, if the heating is included and it’s electric, then the landlord can automatically raise monthly rent by 1.1% (or about 7 dollars for a heated $650 dwelling). If your bathroom was renovated, then yes, you will have to pay more for the shinier throne.

Despite all this, according to the CMHC, average rent on the Plateau went from $727 to $763 in 2007 – 11.7% increase. For an increase of this magnitude to be justified using the Regie’s guidelines, the landlord would have had to have done over $9,000 in renovations while experiencing a reasonable increase in property tax.

New Place? You can Sign the Lease, then Negotiate the Price

A myth about renting is: if you sign the lease, then the price stated is fixed. Most people will take a quoted price just because they really want the apartment. Good news is, you can have your poutine and eat it too. You can sign the lease - guaranteeing the apartment - and then check with the Regie to see if the price is fair. If it isn’t, then you have ten days to file a complaint.

In Calgary there's no ‘Regie'. Annual increases of fifty per cent have been reported. Landlords there argue that they’re making up lost revenue from before the boom, and that they’re just following the market, doing what any smart businessman would do.

But these businessmen are landlords, and who pays? Tenants. In Calgary, too large a part of average income goes towards rent. We hear mainly two things about people out west: they're making money, and they're not able to find affordable housing. Isn’t that just a bit of a paradox? Rich Alberta? Bet the guy living on the couch feels pretty rich right now.

In Montreal we are empowered, we live, eat, drink, be merry – all that. Maybe you don’t need much, but hey, you need a good place at a price that you can live by. The Regie is there for people like us.

So check in with the Regie, check your rent, check your grandmother’s rent and represent. All in favor of affordable accommodation, say I! Don’t be afraid to stick it to your landlord, and remember: it’s not personal, it’s just business.

Check Out the Regie du Logement and its guidelines at www.rdl.gouv.qc.ca.

Discussion

28 Comments

kam / February 12, 2008 at 04:38 pm
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I'm a landlord with several tenants with many of them "good". I strongly feel that the regie is unbalance, favoring tenants. I don't agree with high rent increases and believe in negotiations. What does the Regie do when ppl are repetitively late? tenants who get animals, when lease says otherwise? etc etc
Landlords run a business and not hostels...Leases should be respected on both ends. Tenants, young and old, should maintain their app. in good shape.
Michael / February 12, 2008 at 05:05 pm
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To kam,

Thanks for the comment. I agree that not all tenants are golden and I believe that most landlords are good people. I really like my landlord. I talk to my landlord. Communication is key, it keeps things healthy and both sides happy. You've hit on something more important then getting 'what the regie says is right': that a mutual respect - between tenant and landlord - for any apartment is needed.

Kudos
Gabby / February 12, 2008 at 07:38 pm
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Very nice article, Mike!

I agree with kam that the Regie is biased, but for tenants it's an excellent resource (so long as they don't abuse it).
tintamar / February 13, 2008 at 10:06 am
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Sweeping judgments on the Regie does not stick with reality.

You want to report an apartment with cockroaches, or excessive humidity, or major reparations that your landlord does not take care? It will take you 17 months on average to get your case to be heard.

I would say that on some counts, the Regie favors tenants, and on others, it favors landlords.

One thing is sure: without the advocacy groups that pressures the Regie, something similar to Calgary would be going on right now.

Nice article by the way! Popular education is the way to go.
Lisa / February 13, 2008 at 05:38 pm
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This is why we're leaving Calgary this summer & moving to Montreal. :)Rich Alberta is a lie. Quality of life here is lower than it's been in decades thanks to the boom.
Snowpea / February 13, 2008 at 11:41 pm
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(Pssst, interesting post, but it would be nice if you fixed those typos, notably the its/it's and their/they're kind, to make it more autoritative... just sayin', eh?)
Michael / February 14, 2008 at 11:09 am
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i'll be triple checkin' from now on
K / February 14, 2008 at 01:29 pm
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Thanks for this article. I felt like a total ass when I found out that the landlord on my old place in the Village had increased the rent for the new folks from (the already overpriced for how unbelievably cold it was ) $800 we paid to $1150. I didn't realize that once they had signed the lease they could still negotiate, or I would have walked right over and told them what we paid.

Also, I'm from Alberta, and could not believe when I moved here that there was actually *gasp!* an organization that dealt with this stuff. I left Alberta at the right time - a few years ago no one I knew paid more than $300 a month for their share of a house, and now it's unheard of for people to pay less than $700 for a one-bedroom apartment. And remember that in Alberta it's not like your high rent also gets you all the wonderful perks of being in a highly cultured, bustling city. They need a Regie real bad out there.
Peter / March 26, 2008 at 04:34 pm
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I typically leave a cope of my lease in a not-hidden-but-out-of-the-way place (top shelf of kitchen cupboards are out of plain sight and, I figure, unlikely to be, say, dusted by a landlord) in an apartment I'm leaving so the new tenants will find it and know whether they have been ripped off. I will point out that if the landlord lies in the little box where s/he indicates "lowest rent paid in past 12 months" you are not held to the 10 day limit to ask the regie for an adjustment.
claussberg / March 14, 2009 at 11:24 am
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claussberg / March 14, 2009 at 11:24 am
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Alam / February 3, 2015 at 11:30 pm
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Hi Judy, We have been renting from a mnnagemeat company privately owned town home. We have been here for 4 months. When we first moved in we put on our move in list that fireplace and dryer were not working. They sent someone out and then charged us to fix them $60 each. From the begining the refrigerator was having issues either freezing or was full of water, but now has stopped working all together. We have had lots of rain in the last 2 weeks and have a huge leak in the roof. We have sent emails and made phone calls and no answer from mnnagemeat company and it has been over 2 weeks now. What are our rights and what do we have to pay for and why. There is a clause that we have to pay for repairs. But we are confused how you can charge us for repairs of things that were broken when we moved in. Shouldn't everything be in working order? And are we going to have to pay for any of these other repairs? And how long do we have to wait for a refrigerator??? Any help would be great!Thank you
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