Home CommentaryStudent Life Everything you’d need to know about renting a place

Everything you’d need to know about renting a place

by Archives February 5, 2008

When asked what the one thing he thinks would most help students avoid problems with their living accommodation, Jonathan Elston of the HoJo answered, “come into our office before renting an apartment, or if you’re having a problem with your landlord, just come and see us immediately.”
The Off-Campus Housing and Job Bank (HoJo) offers tips on resolving roommate conflicts, explains the recent approval of rent increases by the Régis du Logement and provides important information on housing that could save time and hassle for students.
Hojo had planned a workshop dealing with roommate conflict, but it was cancelled due to low turnout. Elston said that the information is now available online at HoJo’s website.
“[The workshop] was meant to show students where they are protected under the housing law of Quebec, and where they’re not protected,” said Elston. “In addition, we’ve had students come in who have had conflict with roommates, and we wanted to give them the tools and the resources to better communicate with future roommates.”
Inspiration for the workshops came from students coming into HoJo who were living in a boarder situation, meaning they were renting rooms from families. A boarder-type living situation is not protected by the Régie du Logement, so a student can be evicted with no notice, and the police are forced to uphold these evictions. Elston wants to make sure that students understand the different types of living situations before they enter into agreements.
Problems arise because sometimes “roommates didn’t know all of their rights and obligations once they signed an agreement or moved into a certain situation,” asserted Elston. “That’s why we really need to do a lot of education, because a lot of problems can be prevented.”
The workshops are part of HoJo’s commitment to improving living situations for students, but extend beyond just roommate conflicts. HoJo is currently launching a “Refuse Your Rent Increase Campaign.” Landlords are legally allowed to increase rent once per year, but should increase rents based on Régie du Logement averages, which are released in January. Unfortunately, many landlords try to increase rent exponentially. The campaign is designed to make students aware that they have the right to refuse this kind of increase, and the landlord doesn’t have the right to evict them. It’s important that students are aware of their rights in advance, because they only have 30 days to reply to a landlord.
Another emerging problem that Hojo plans to raise awareness for is the increased incidence of bed bugs in the Montreal area. According to Elston, the number of students who come in complaining of bed bugs has been increasing rapidly every year. The process to deal with bed bugs is detailed, so Elston recommends coming into the office as soon as possible to start the paperwork.
A common mistake students make when trying to resolve problems with their lodging, such as infestations or repairs, is telling their landlord of a problem verbally and then waiting for a resolution. “In Quebec, you need to have proof that the landlord has received notification of the problem.” Without proof that a tenant asked for something to be fixed, that tenant has no basis to file a complaint, said Elston.
For more information, visit hojo.csu.qc.ca and register for the HoJo newsletter.

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