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Unsanitary conditions and processing times at the Régie du logement

Part of category Audience

Wednesday, 13 March, 2019

The Régie du logement wants to set the record straight with respect to the article published in the March 12, 2019 edition of La Presse.

In Katia Gagnon's report entitled Plaintes à la Régie pour des logements moisis : des années d'attente (Complaints with the Régie about mouldy dwellings – Years of waiting), a rigorous and critical checks of the data and cases studied would have made it possible to establish a more accurate picture of processing times in such cases.

The article states that tenants who take action against their landlord before the Régie must [TRANSLATION] “wait forever before work is carried out in their dwelling”, and mentions three cases as examples.

However, two of the cases mentioned in the article were applications for a reduction of rent or for damages, not for an order to have work carried out a result of unsanitary conditions in the dwellings. If such applications had been filed in those cases, they would have been processed urgently, as was the case with the third example reported by the journalist. In fact, only the O’Neill case was an application for such an order, and a first hearing was held six weeks after the application was filed.

Each application filed before the Tribunal is read and rigorously analyzed to determine its degree of urgency. The nature of the proceeding instituted has an impact on the processing priority it is given. Hence, it is important to pay special attention to the object sought in the application. In that regard, the Régie wishes to point out that it provides the public with an information service to inform them on their rights and obligations.

In the title of the article, the journalist indicates that “complaints” with the Régie du logement involving the presence of mould can require years before a decision is rendered by the Tribunal. However, in 2017-2018, the average time to obtain a first hearing in cases involving unsanitary conditions was 8.3 months. Furthermore, 47% of the cases were heard within an average of 2.6 months, as those applications were considered urgent, which is the case when the reasons given involve risks to the occupants’ health or safety.

The article mentions a median time of 1527 days between the time mould appears and a decision is rendered. It is important to point out that a number of factors may influence the total processing time of a case, such as applications for postponement filed by the parties, adjournments, or failures to notify the Tribunal of a change of address.

It should be mentioned that the study carried out by Martin Gallié, law professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), and Julie Verrette, student at the École du Barreau, deals with only 38 cases selected by the authors, whereas, in 2017-2018, the Régie du logement received 485 applications involving unsanitary conditions out of a total of 69 026 applications, that is, a proportion of 0.7%.

Table: Applications filed involving unsanitary conditions

Cases filed







Total cases

73 724

72 485

69 821

67 196

66 384

69 026

Unsanitary conditions







Proportion (unsanitary conditions)







In all cases, it is important to point out that, under the law, a tenant may abandon a dwelling that has become unfit for habitation. In such a case, the tenant must notify the landlord of the condition of the dwelling before abandoning it or within the following 10 days. Before leaving the dwelling, the tenant must be reasonably certain that the landlord will not resolve the problem quickly. A tenant may also refuse to take possession of a dwelling if he or she notes that it is unfit for habitation. The lease is then resiliated by operation of law. In such a case, the tenant can possibly take action for damages.

Under the Civil Code of Québec, the Régie du logement has jurisdiction to declare any dwelling unfit for habitation and to settle the disputes aimed at having landlords comply with their obligations to keep the dwellings in good maintenance and repair condition. Moreover, when the Régie du logement declares a dwelling to be unfit for habitation, this prevents the tenant from renting the dwelling in question again.

In 2017-2018, the average time to obtain a first hearing before the Régie du logement, for all types of cases, was 4.9 months, compared with 5.5 months for the preceding fiscal period.

The Régie du logement is the tribunal with exclusive jurisdiction over rental housing in Québec.