This article covers both those who have just recently arrived in Montreal from overseas and are searching for an apartment to rent during their stay in Quebec, as well as those who have always lived in Montreal and have moved several times all over the city. It aims to simplify and set the record straight on the issue of documentation and information which you provide when you are applying to rent a property. Once that rare pearl has been found, how do you actually know what documents you need to provide in order to have the best chances of your application being accepted by the landlord while also knowing what documents they should not have to ask you for? Specifically, noticing that a landlord illegally asks for a document should you make you more wary about the entire renting process.
Certain elements need to be remembered. Make a small list of them and stick them on your fridge:
- Your surname, first name, current address, date of birth: this is “common sense” but this basic information will enable the landlord to carry out a credit check, which is widely requested by most of them as a condition for accepting your application: records containing information on us exist, and this information makes it possible to carry out background checks on us, whether at a judicial level, the Régie du logement, or your Fido, Vidéotron and credit card accounts. In order to check if you tend to be behind your payments; you are ranked on a scale ranging from R1 (the highest rank) to R9 (the lowest rank) which will assist the landlord in making their decision.
- Social Insurance Number (SIN): it is optional, you cannot be obliged to provide it, even for a credit check. You can however provide it anyway if you want to “provide proof of your background”
- Photocopy of identification: these are compulsory documents; In fact, the landlord must be able to verify your identity at all times
- Certificate of employment and your employer’s name: the main and necessary document for the financial aspect of your application: it should be provided first and indicates the start date of your employment, the salary you receive and contact information for the relevant individual (the supervisor or the personnel manager in general). The landlord may also conduct their enquiry by directly contacting them to verify the information provided.
- Tax Forms: must be provided if, you are self-employed for example, and are therefore, unable to provide proof of employment. You can also supplement it with invoices from your clients in order to enhance your credibility, or even provide evidence of bank funds.
- Bank details: if the landlord/landlady intends to make a bank check, you would need to provide them, however this is not a prerequisite if you provide sufficient evidence showing that you will honor your commitments and pay your rent every month (e.g., proof of employment).
Please note: no one has the right to ask you to pay more than a month’s rent in advance (usually the first or last month)! If you unfortunately have no documentation of your ability to pay your rent, on your part, and your background does not provide sufficient proof for a thorough credit check, paying several months in advance might be an option, obviously if both parties agree to do so. Income high rise buildings often use this process (several months’ rent in advance), but it is one you should be cautious about. Just because it is managed by a large company does not make it legal. It also illegal for your landlord to ask you to pay a deposit for your keys.
- Your previous landlord’s contact details: this is a prerequisite! It allows your future landlord to check if your conduct has been exemplary in terms of rent payment and in general (noise, consideration of your neighbors, maintenance of the property, etc.). It goes without saying that its absence from your records will significantly affect the chances of your application being successful.
- Any other relevant reference: feel free to provide related documents if you really want the apartment and wish to demonstrate your interest to the landlord. Volunteer letters, family references, guarantor, etc. Some individuals may even write a brief application letter to demonstrate their enthusiasm, and believe me, it is always appreciated by a landlord who does not wish to rent their home to just anyone! Obviously, and on the other hand, no one has the right to oblige you to provide this document, it is completely optional.
Information which needs to be taken note of in general
In order for your application to have the best chance of being accepted, you will need to show the landlord that you are prepared to provide proof of your professional activities and good conduct, and that includes all the documents listed above. However, no landlord should oblige you to provide documents that are not necessary. At that point, you should be cautious: if you do your part, but your future landlord does not seem to want to do theirs, your landlord-tenant relationship is obviously not off to a good start. The reverse is also the case: you cannot expect a landlord to accept your application if you provide them with the “bare minimum”. They, on their part, need to be reassured about your background, your ability to pay the rent and maintain the most courteous and harmonious landlord-tenant relationship possible. So it is up to you to prove your good intentions.
If you have any additional or specific questions on a particular document, do not hesitate to contact me, I will be pleased to respond to you!
Hélène Chebroux is a residential real-estate agent and has been in the field for 8 years: now affiliated to Via Capitale du Mont-Royal, and proud owner of a Masters in Management from HEC Montréal, her professional activities revolve around her core values of sustainable development and eco-responsibility