Here are some basic suggestions to follow to safely rent an apartment in the greater Montreal area. By following these basic suggestions, you can avoid some possible problems and inform you on your rights as a tenant :
- moreMontreal apartments is not responsible for the content of the ads and does not have additional information on the ads displayed on the site. We only manage a site where advertisers (landlords, roommates, sub-letters) place their ads. The contact information and the validity of the ads are not checked except for certain ads that could be problematic based on certain criteria. Please use your good judgement.
- In Quebec, landlords can ask for the first month's rent in advance, but they can't ask for a security deposit or any other amount (see article 1904 of the Quebec Civil Code). But always have the full contact information for the landlord and pay any amount with a check or any way that can be retraced or stop the payment in case of problems. So don't send money via Western Union or other ways that can't be retraced if you are asked to send money to "reserve" an apartment. P. S. Landlords usually prefer to meet in person future tenants when renting apartments with yearly leases.
- Always sign a lease before moving into an apartment or pay the first month, whatever the type of rental (yearly lease, lease assignment or sublet). The lease is the most important document that protects you and legally bind you to the apartment. Make sure that the lease is signed by the landlord except if it is a sublet (in that case, make sure the subletter has a lease and that the landlord is informed of the sublet).
- You will find on the CMHC's web site a a list of questions to ask to the landlord and list of questions a landlord can/cannot ask a prospective tenant (PDF). A web page intitled "The lease and protection of personal information" is also available on the Tribunal administratif du logement's web site.
- A sublet implies that the subletter (the current tenant who has the lease) will sublet for a certain period of time and will then take the apartment back at the end of the sublet. A lease assignment means that the lease is transferred to you at the same condition as the previous tenant, you will become the only one responsible for the lease, the previous tenant doesn't have any rights to the apartment anymore.
- It is recommended that you visit the apartment before signing the lease. If you come from abroad, it is strongly suggested that you come to Montreal 2 or 3 weeks before moving in and take an hotel room or a room in a bed and breakfast, this will give you the chance to visit apartments in person. You can also use a relocation agency, or check if there such a service in your company's human resources department (if you are transferred to Montreal) or if you are a student, you can use the university's apartment search service for foreign students (if you come to study in Montreal).
- Be careful if ads only contain hotmail or yahoo (or other free email services) but don't have a phone number to contact the person who placed the ad. A hotmail or yahoo address is usually not enough to make sure of the identity of the person who placed the ad. Always get the full contact information of the landlord or person renting the apartment when renting an apartment.
- Visit the Tribunal administratif du logement's web site, you will find all the information on tenants rights and obligations as well as landlords rights and obligations.
- The rent depends on the neighborhood where it is located, the number of rooms, the quality of the apartment, the services (pool, security, etc) and furniture that is included, etc. The basic rent on the island of Montreal is about $500 to $750 per room per month with a minimum of $700 to $950 for the smallest apartments as of 2023 (rents have increased a lot in the past few years and are continuing to increase for now). These are average prices with varies a lot depending on the criteria mentioned above. Certain neighborhoods are cheaper than others (inexpensive neighborhoods : Anjou, Saint-Michel, Saint-Leonard, the suburbs, etc. Expensive neighborhoods: Plateau Mont-Royal, Old Montreal, Westmount, etc).
- Here is a really brief description of Montreal's neighborhoods :
- Plateau Mont-Royal : the greater Plateau area is divided in sub-sections : the "real" Plateau is in the middle of the Greater Plateau. There also the Mile-End district in the north-west section (next to Outremont) which is more culturally diverse, the Carré St-Louis in the south-west section closer to many restaurants and clubs, etc. Whatever your definition of the Plateau is, rents are higher than other neighborhoods for equivalent apartments. You will find mostly duplexes and triplexes (buildings with two or three storeys, the front door of the apartment open up to the exterior directly, each apartments are usually independent for heating and hot water, etc). The main attraction of this neighborhood is the large choice of services (markets, drug stores, restaurants, etc) and it is well served by public transit. It is the neighborhood with the highest population density in Canada and it's where you'll find the most bicyclists. It is also well known for its reputation as a "bohemian" lifestyle but there is a great mix of people : artists and musicians, students, professionals, etc.
- Downtown : you will find mostly large apartment buildings in downtown Montreal. Rents can vary greatly depending on the services offered : some have security guards at the entrance, others have a pool or sports center. You can find affordable apartments but they usually don't offer any services. The neighborhood is very well served by public transit and some other services (supermarkets, etc). It is where McGill University (links: Off-Campus Housing and student dorms) and Concordia University (link: Housing section) are located.
- Old Montreal : an expensive neighborhood but with superb buildings with great architecture. Unfortunately, this neighborhood doesn't have many services (no supermarkets to speak of, etc) and there are only some metro stations (no buses).
- Hochelaga-Maisonneuve : had a reputation for being a "low income" neighborhood but rents are usually lower but not so much anymore.
- South west : there are many neighborhoods in the south-west part of Montreal. They are : St-Henri, Petite-Bourgogne, Pointe St-Charles, Lachine, LaSalle, etc. Some of these neighborhoods have (or had) a bad reputation, but is not deserved. Verdun for example is divided in two sections : east and west. In the east, you will find more stores (around the de l'église metro station on Wellington) but the buildings are mostly triplexes. In the west, there are less stores and the buildings are almost exclusively duplexes. That section is less "urban". Rents are still relatively inexpensive in the south-west.
- Villeray and Rosemont : the most interesting thing about these neighborhoods is the Jean-Talon market, an exterior market where farmers sell their fresh produce. There are also permanent stores (butchers, cheese shop, etc).
- Pointe-aux-Trembles and Rivière-des-Prairies : at the eastern extremity of the island of Montreal. There are many new buildings and the rents are affordable. But it's far from downtown.
- Côtes-des-Neiges : it is where the Université de Montréal (and its business school - HEC - and its engineering school - École Polytechnique) is located. There are many small apartment buildings near the university but they are relatively expensive (but they can be share with other students). The university's off campus housing service can provide some addresses (there are also student dorms).
- Quartier latin : it is where the UQAM university is located and its student dorms, most of the apartments near that university are located to the east in the south-central district. But since the main campus is directly connected to the Berri-UQAM metro station, any apartment near a metro station on the green or orange line is close enough.
- There are of course other neighborhoods : Outremont and Westmount (rich neighborhoods where the rent are usually expensive), Ahuntsic (in the north-central part of the island, there are small semi-detached houses and small apartment buildings), Rosemont (some great duplexes, there are many parks), West Island (more english speaking part of the island, the commuter trains going downtown have some stops there), Laval and North Shore and the South Shore (off island suburbs, less expensive but public transit is very limited).
- Apartments are advertised with their number of rooms, not by their square footage (except for lofts). A 1 1/2 is one main room with an open kitchen and a bathroom. A 2 1/2 usually means that there one closed bedroom and one main room and a bathroom, etc. By the way, the 1/2 represents an indoor bathroom (that is the main theory, no one knows the exact origin of the 1/2.
Other sites of interest :
- STM (Société de Transport de Montréal), maps and bus schedules, etc,
- Tribunal administratif du logement, rights and obligations of tenants and landlords, very important,
- Ville de Montréal, garbage pickup and recycling schedules, boroughs offices, libraries, etc,
- moreMontreal eguide, detailed information on all aspects of life in Montreal, description and maps of neighborhoods.
In conclusion, if an apartment sounds too good to be true because of its description and low rent, be even more careful. And as always, use your good judgement.
Thank you for your understanding