The Gleaner
Opinions

Is your rent increase keeping you up at night?

The housing lease renewal period in Quebec is in full swing. In fact, most 12-month leases are renewable from July 1 to June 30 of the following year and the period allowed to modify the rent or other conditions falls between January 1 and March 31. All 12-month leases can only be modified between three and six months before the end of the lease regardless of their start or end date. This year the Administrative Housing Tribunal (AHT) estimates the average increase at four %.

In private seniors’ residences (RPA), renewals can occur throughout the year, although they frequently take place during this period. Residents often move to a senior’s residence following the sale of their property or when the state of their health requires it.

The renewal process is exactly the same for a senior’s residence as in ordinary housing: a resident who receives a notice of lease modification/notice of rent increase that they consider to be unfair has the right to refuse this modification. They must send a written notice to the owner/manager of the residence announcing this decision, retaining proof of receipt, and this, within the month following receipt of the notice of modification of the lease. (A form entitled, “Lessee’s response to a notice of rent increase and modification of another condition of the lease” that is designed to facilitate this process is available on the AHT website).

It is then the responsibility of the owner/manager of the residence to attempt to negotiate with the tenant or to contact the AHT to request fixing of the rent. This must take place within the month following receipt of the refusal. If negotiations should take place following the initial refusal, the resident still has no obligation to accept the owner’s proposal. He may choose to rely on the AHT to fix the rent. Unfortunately, new residences including those less than five years old are not subject to this rent fixing regulation by the AHT, so generally tenants must either accept the requested rent increases or move.

Increasingly common in RPAs, and occasionally in ordinary rentals, are increases with “rent discounts” or “bonuses” are popular. Be wary of this type of proposal because they are temporary, and their impact is often felt upon the subsequent renewal. This practice artificially inflates owners’ profits, which is good for resale, and will be applicable when the tenant leaves. This dwelling will be re-rented, based on the rent of the former tenant, but excluding the discount/bonus.

The RPA manager, just like any owner, cannot exert pressure on residents or threaten them with ending their lease if they refuse the proposal. Tenants have the right to refuse a rent increase while remaining in their dwelling if the refusal process and the deadline are respected. It is a regulated legal process that must be respected.

When undertaking this type of process, one should not neglect the importance of being accompanied by a trusted person, because these steps generate anxiety in individuals of all ages, but particularly in the elderly. A friend, family member or anyone you trust can be extremely helpful. For ordinary rentals, housing committees are the appropriate reference. The Center for Assistance and Support for Complaints (CAAP) is a community organization mandated to inform and assist seniors in private senior residences.

For more information, contact CAAP Monteregie at 1-800-263-0670 or 450-347-0670. We will be happy to assist you. Our services are free and confidential.
Guylaine Roy,
Consultant CAAP Monteregie

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