Being a Lessee

Paying the rent

Paying the rent: a lessee's number one obligation

The lessee’s primary obligation is to pay their rent in full on the due date. This is a key point in the rental contract (the lease).

The lessee and the lessor may reach an agreement on various terms and conditions for paying the rent. Specifying these conditions in the lease is in the interest of both parties.

When and where should the rent be paid?

Under the law, if the parties do not make any particular arrangements, the lessor or the lessor’s mandatary is responsible for collecting the rent from the lessee’s home on the agreed date.

If the parties arrange to pay the rent at another location, the lessee is responsible for ensuring that the lessor receives the payment on the agreed date.

In any case, it is a good idea for all terms and conditions to be clearly established, especially the specific time of day at which payment is to be made, for example, between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on the first day of the month.

Both parties must act in good faith and refrain from abusing their rights.

Who should the rent be paid to?

It is important to ensure that payment is made to the right person (the lessor, their mandatary, the management company, etc.). Otherwise, you may end up paying your rent twice.

If a lessee is unsure who they owe the rent to (for example, if the building has been sold, the lessor has died or gone bankrupt, or the mortgagee has served a notice of withdrawal of authorization to collect rent), they may apply to the Tribunal administratif du logement for authorization to deposit their rent with them.

For more information, see the Deposit of rent section.

Payment methods

In what form should the rent be paid?

If the agreed rent is a sum of money, payment can be made in cash (Canadian funds) or by postal money order, certified cheque, bank money order or bank draft. Payment can also be made by credit card, through a transfer of funds or with online payment if the lessor is able to process payments made with these methods.

Can I pay with a regular cheque?

Regular cheques are generally accepted because they are a practical method of payment for everyone. However, lessors are not required to accept regular cheques unless they have agreed to do so, and the rent is technically only paid once the cheque is honoured by the financial institution.

What matters most is that the rent be paid in full. Lessors are not required to accept partial payments.

If the agreed rent is provided in a form other than money, such as the performance of certain kinds of work, said work must be performed as set out in the lease.

The lessor cannot:

  • Require the payment of more than one month’s rent.

  • Require the payment of rent in advance for more than the first payment period (maximum of one month). However, they can require the advance payment to be cashable immediately, even if the lease comes into effect at a later date. For example, if a lease is signed on April 15 but begins its term on July 1, the lessor is entitled to immediately require the lessee to pay rent for the first month only.

  • Charge additional amounts in the form of a security deposit or other charge, such as a key deposit.

  • Require postdated cheques.

Any clause in the lease that provides for such practices is invalid, and the lessee is not required to comply with it. The lessee may apply to the Tribunal to ensure their rights are respected.

Note that, although a lessor cannot require postdated cheques as a condition for signing the lease, the parties are permitted to mutually agree to this method of payment. If the parties to the lease have freely agreed to include such a clause in the lease, then they must comply with it.

The importance of proof of payment

The lessee has the right to require that they be given a receipt confirming that the rent has been paid. Rent receipts can be useful because, in the event of a dispute, the burden of proving that the rent was paid lies with the lessee – hence the importance of having proof in writing.

To be safe, keep proofs of rent payment for three years.

Non payment of the rent

  • Rent not paid

    A lessee who does not pay their rent in full on the agreed date is in default as of the next day. Once the lessee is in default, the lessor can file an application with the Tribunal administratif du logement to recover the rent owing, the interest and the costs related to the application.

  • Rent paid more than three weeks late

    If the lessee is over three weeks late in paying the rent, the consequences may be more serious. Not only can the lessor request the Tribunal to order the lessee to pay the rent, they can also request to have the lease terminated and evict the lessee and any other occupants.

    Termination of the lease can be avoided if the lessee, before a decision is made, pays the rent owing, as well as costs and interest at the rate provided for in section 28 of the Tax Administration Act, or at the rate agreed upon by the parties if it is lower.

  • Frequent late payments

    The lessor can also request that the lease be terminated if the lessee is frequently late in paying the rent. However, in addition to proving the late payments, the lessor must show that they have suffered serious harm as a result. For example, they could provide evidence that they have suffered a significant financial loss due to frequent late payments or one late payment in particular.

    If the rent is not paid, the Tribunal can terminate the lease and order the eviction of the occupants.

Execution of the Tribunal’s decision

Once the Tribunal’s decision has been rendered, the parties must abide by it. If they do not, the lessor must wait until the deadlines provided for have passed before having the decision executed.

However, if the decision terminates the lease due to non payment of rent and the lessee pays the rent owing, the costs and the interest before the decision is rendered, the plaintiff cannot initiate eviction proceedings.

If the plaintiff attempts to do so, the lessee can challenge the eviction in the Court of Québec.

Once their lease is terminated and they are evicted, the lessee (even though they no longer live in the dwelling) will be responsible for the lost rent and expenses incurred by the lessor (heating, power, newspaper ads) until the dwelling is leased again. The lessor must make an effort to minimize the harm to the lessee (for example, by promptly taking steps to find a new lessee).

For more information, see the section Executing a decision.