The Dwelling

Heating Problems

Dwellings heated by the lessor

You are a lessee in a dwelling where the heating is controlled by the lessor and the habitual temperature is causing you serious discomfort.

You are a lessor and you are wondering on what date you have to begin heating and what temperature you must maintain to meet your responsibilities.

On what date should heating begin?

No specific date on which heating must begin is laid down in the law governing rental housing, nor under most municipal by-laws. An arbitrary choice of date would not reflect the reality of the Québec climate where it can freeze in May and be hot in March.

However, the lessor is legally required to ensure that his lessee enjoys an adequate ambient temperature, whatever the time of year.

This responsibility comes from the lessor’s obligation to maintain the dwelling in good condition enabling it to serve the purposes for which it is rented and to maintain the dwelling in good habitable condition.

Therefore, a clause in the lease specifying a date on which the lessor will turn on the heat may be without effect because whether or not the dwelling requires heating depends on the temperature indoors.

At what level should the temperature be kept?

Though neither the law nor most municipal by-law are specific in this area, it is generally accepted that, under normal conditions, interior apartment temperatures should run around 21° C (70° F).

For his part, the lessee will be careful not to overheat the dwelling or action may be taken against him at the Régie du logement.

How to talk it over with the lessor?

If the lessee has a heating problem, he should make sure he has enough solid evidence, supported by witnesses, if possible, to show the lessor that steps to correct the situation must be taken immediately. For example, the lessee can record indoor and outdoor temperature readings at predetermined times over a period of days.

The temperature indoors should be recorded in the centre of each room, one meter from the floor.

Temperature
Date Time Outdoor Indoor
Y/M/D 5 p.m. 7° C 14° C

Heating breakdown

Should the heating system break down, the lessor must respect his obligations under the law by taking immediate corrective steps so that the lessee does not suffer any prejudice and that the building is not damaged.

If the lessor is unable to restore heating rapidly, he should supply emergency services (e.g. electric heaters). Where heating problems are concerned, even a 24-hour delay can be unacceptable and temporary rehousing of occupants may in fact be required.

If a heating breakdown occurs during winter, the lessee must inform this lessor. If the lessor doesn’t take action or cannot be reached, the lessee may, whichever the case may be, repair the heating system or fill the fuel reservoir because this is an urgent situation and the repair or expense is necessary in order to ensure the preservation or enjoyment of the dwelling.

Of course, the lessor can always step in to finish the job. And the lessee is entitled to be reimbursed for the reasonable expenses incurred. If need be, he can retain this amount from his rent.

Recourse

You have informed the lessor of your heating problem but he still hasn’t done anything to correct the situation which is not urgent but that you consider unacceptable.

Ask the Régie about what type of recourse you might have. If you are a sublessee, you must inform the lessee of the apartment of your problem and, if he doesn’t act, you can exercise, in his place, the rights and recourses he could enforce against the lessor so that the lessor may perform his obligations.