Landlords and tenants budgeting rent for the year should look to the Administrative Housing Tribunal's (TAL) latest index.
The Tribunal administratif du logement posted the adjustment rates on which Quebec landlords should base themselves to calculate rent increases Tuesday.
Although it's still too early to determine the average increase rate for the year, tenants in Quebec can expect their rents to go up.
In 2022, the TAL granted an average rent adjustment of 4 per cent in cases it heard, with capital expenditures taken into account.
The announced percentages are based on landlords' expenses for a particular dwelling. Landlords can use the rent increase calculation tool on the TAL's website before sending tenants an increase notice.
According to the tribunal, energy has been particularly pricey for homeowners in 2022, especially natural gas and heating oil.
The tribunal estimates that an oil-heated dwelling with a monthly rent of $1,000 could cost up to $80 more per month, taking into account increases in municipal taxes.
A $1,000-home heated with natural gas could cost $1,052 per month, while a dwelling heated with electricity at the same price could go up to $1,034 per month.
An unheated unit at $1,000 could cost $1,029 per month in 2023, according to the index.
Tenant's right of refusal
Though the TAL's indexes aren't an official cap on rent hikes, tenants can use the index to make sure the increase they accept is justified.
Those who believe their landlord is requesting more than is considered reasonable by the tribunal can refuse an increase.
"Renters have 30 days to respond to the notice," said Cédric Dussault, a spokesperson for the Coalition of Housing Committees and Tenants' Associations of Quebec (RCLALQ).
"If they refuse, it's up to the landlord to go to the TAL and open a case to set the rent."
The TAL says landlords and tenants "are free to agree on a rent increase that both consider acceptable."
"If the two parties cannot agree on the rent increase (or on any other modification to the lease), the lessor can file an application to modify the lease," it says.
However, for dwellings in buildings less than five years old, a tenant who refuses a rent increase will have to leave at the end of the lease if the box in Section F of the lease was checked.
Dussault says very few cases make it to the tribunal and encourages tenants to reach out to their local housing committee.
"Because it's up to tenants to calculate whether the rent hike is abusive and refuse it," said Dussault. "There are a lot of tenants who don't know they can refuse an increase and still stay in the dwelling."
'Too low' for landlords
The Corporation of Quebec Property Owners (CORPIQ) criticized the announced adjustment rates, saying they are "too low compared to inflation."
"Landlords will therefore, once again, have to absorb a significant share of inflation in a fragile context of property management," it said in a news release.
"Let's remember that the cost of rent is, according to the [Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation], 51 per cent higher in the rest of Canada than in Quebec."
The Landlord Association of Quebec (APQ) said that even though 2023's increase rates are higher than previous years, it is dissatisfied with the suggested rate hikes.
"Rents must go up because increases are needed to maintain safe housing and meet exponential costs and expenses," it said in a press release.
"If tenants can no longer pay their rent, it would be good to find ways to help them pay [...] like through subsidies."