Solutions and legal proceedings if you are a tenant

It is important to remember that the first recommended step before initiating any legal proceedings is always to consult a lawyer. A lawyer will be able to guide you through your options of legal recourses and help you navigate through the tribunal’s numerous procedures. In addition, a lawyer can help you draft a letter of demand, which is a prerequisite to the institution of any legal proceedings at the Rental Board. In fact, the letter of demand constitutes an element of the tenant’s obligation to mitigate and minimize damages.

It must also be noted that the relationship between landlords and tenants is one of reciprocity. In other words, your rights as a tenant will correspond to the obligations of a landlord and vice-versa. Therefore, it is recommended to visit both of our webpages regarding the rights and obligations of a landlord and tenants to appreciate the nature and extent of the landlord-tenant relationship.

Click here to read the article Investing in the Landlord-Tenant relationship

A lawyer will also be able to help you exercise your rights in obtaining certain remedies such as, but not limited to:

  1. Forcing the specific performance of an obligation;
  2. Reduction of rent;
  3. Resiliation of a lease;
  4. Moral, material, and punitive damages;
  5. Authorization of the Rental Board to initiate the repairs; and
  6. Abandonment of the leased property


  1. Force the specific performance of an obligation (execution in nature)

The Rental Board may order a landlord to fulfill his obligations instead of ordering the resiliation of the lease or a reduction of rent. Such an order is binding, and the landlord must respect it. Failing which, a reduction in rent or resiliation may be granted by the tribunal in addition to compensation for any damages incurred.

  1. Reduction of rent

The Rental Board may order a landlord to reduce the price of rent if the tenant has been deprived of his peaceable enjoyment of the leased premises. A reduction of peaceable enjoyment can take the form of infestations, harassment, poor maintenance, absence of heating, foul odors, loss or absence of amenities, services, space, etc.

A reduction of rent will only be granted if the tenant can prove a real and significant reduction of the leasing value of the dwelling which stems from the degradation of the dwelling and/or a breach of the landlord’s obligation.

A simple inconvenience will not warrant a reduction in rent. There needs to be an important and objective nuisance which needs to be compensated.

  1. Resiliation of the lease

Tenants cannot unilaterally decide to resiliate a lease. They are party to a binding agreement which ends on the specified term found within the lease. If there is no lease, a 1-month notice must be given to resiliate the lease.

However, a tenant may file an application at the Rental Board and seek to have the lease resiliated if the landlord does not abide by their obligations, and such failure causes the tenant a serious prejudice, such as the loss of the peaceable enjoyment of one’s dwelling.

Such a remedy is at the discretion of the Rental Board, to which they may decide to order the specific performance of the landlord’s obligation instead of granting the resiliation of the lease pursuant to Article 1973 of the Civil code of Quebec.

  1. Moral, material and punitive damages

A tenant may ask the Rental Board to order the landlord to pay damages for a prejudice suffered, be it moral or material in nature. In order to do so, the tenant must establish a breach of the landlord’s obligation, a prejudice suffered and a causal link. The prejudice suffered must therefore be the direct and immediate consequence of the landlord’s wrongdoing.

Punitive damages may be awarded if the tenant can prove the intentional nature behind the landlord’s breach of his obligations. The focus is not on the gravity of the breach, but on the intentional character of the fault. The tribunal must be certain of the intentional character of the fault, the knowledge of the consequences and the rules being breached by the landlord. Mere negligence is insufficient to warrant punitive damages, but wanton disregard as to a tenant’s rights may attract punitive damages.

Punitive damages are most often seen in cases of harassment by the landlord to incite a tenant to abandon the leased premises.

  1. Authorization from the Rental Board to undertake the necessary repairs

It is also possible to demand permission from the Rental Board to initiate the necessary repairs to the leased premises if the inactions of the landlord continue to aggravate the situation.

  1. Abandonment of the leased premise

A tenant may abandon his dwelling if it becomes unfit for habitation upon informing the landlord of the condition of the dwelling, before abandoning it, or within the following 10 days. Upon abandonment and sufficient notice, a tenant will be exempt from paying rent for the period during which the dwelling is unfit for habitation, unless the inhabitable condition of the dwelling is the result of his/her own fault.

If you are looking for a law firm with reasonable rates, quick and efficient turnaround time for your files and who provides personalized and effective follow-ups, call Schneider Attorneys at (514) 439-1322 ext. 112 or email us at

The above noted text should not be construed as providing legal advice or a statement of your claim. The process highlighted above are merely parameters and barometers and do not constitute any warranties and guaranties with regards to your file at hand. We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice with a licensed attorney from the Barreau du Quebec or a notary at the Chambre des Notaires. Each case must be seen and analysed on its merits as the legal process may be complex and cumbersome.

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