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For posterity’s sake

by Archives March 25, 2008

By the end of March, some landlords will slip a little envelope under their tenants’ doors. In it will be that notice – a demand for an increase in their rent.
Each year, the Regie du Logement releases their rent adjustment limits; 2008’s increase is 0.7 per cent, or about $5 for a $725 rental.
Rent in Montreal has increased 20 per cent since 2000, despite the fact that, according to the Regie du lodgement regulations, it should have only been raised by 8.7 per cent. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Council found that rent in the Plateau increased by 11.7 per cent in 2007 alone.
Basically, tenants haven’t been exercising their rights against rent increases, or using the Regie’s regulations to their advantage. Perhaps it’s because they don’t know what their rights are.
Landlords have from Jan. 1 until March 31 to deliver the notice for increases. Of course, if delivered after then, you can slip that envelope right back out.
“Sometimes people are surprised that they have the right to maintain a previous lease amount and that the landlord cannot evict you for refusing [their] increase,” said Jonathan Elston, the Off-Campus Job and Housing Bank (HOJO) coordinator.
Elston hears all kinds of stories from tenants. “One student that came in, his landlord was trying to charge him 80 dollars too much,” said Elston. With a little help, the two were able to challenge the rent increase and win. But others are too late to do anything because they’ve missed the deadline.
There are certain stipulations regarding the time frame in which to register a complaint with the Regie. A general guideline is to do so promptly, within about 10 days of signing or renewing the lease.
Elston recommends you check your rent increase. If it’s an increase of over 0.7 per cent, than call or drop by HOJO to get help filing a complaint. The landlord will have to justify any increase that goes over the rent adjustment limit using formulas set by the Regie.
For example, if you don’t pay for the electric heating, then your increase can be 1.5 per cent right off the bat. If your landlord installed a Jacuzzi in your living room, then yes, you must have a pirate floatie fundraising party to help foot the tub’s bill: the renovations mean you will have to pay more. The rule of thumb is: a $3.58 monthly increase for every $1,000 in renovations.
New place? You can sign first, and then negotiate.
One persistent myth that highlights ignorance in rental matters is that of getting the previous tenant to ‘transfer’ their lease to you in order to get their rate. It’s not true – if you sign the lease you can then check with the previous tenant to see if all is well price-wise. Any increase in rent must follow the standard annual increases set, all going back to that 0.7 per cent.
Rent in Montreal should be accommodating. The Regie is around for posterity’s sake. But fair rent increases only part of the preservation of Montreal’s housing stock. Paying a fair price is one thing, but tenants must also respect their dwellings.
Landlords always have horror stories of general disregard and vandalism of their property by tenants. If we want fairness, then we should play fair.
“Tenants should negotiate with landlords first and foremost,” said Elston.
Communication and a positive relationship with your landlord should be strived for. Try to negotiate with your landlord first with your landlord before heading through all the painful paperwork of a complaint.
Who knows, maybe you and your landlord could actually end up friends? For additional information and help, go to room 260 in the Hall Building.

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