In rental housing law, as in other areas of law, good faith must govern the conduct of the parties from the beginning till the end of the obligation. For the owners of buildings we are talking about the period from the signing of the lease until the evacuation of the premises at the end of the lease.
The disclosure of a candidate's references is essential for the signing of the lease so that the landlord, following his investigation, can make an informed decision to accept or refuse to rent the dwelling. These references are at the basis of his decision. Their veracity and accuracy represent the good faith of the candidate.
The rules surrounding good faith enacted in the Civil Code of Québec require the candidate who wishes to rent to give accurate and honest references quickly and without pretence.
"6. Every person is bound to exercise his civil rights according to the requirements of good faith."
"7. No right may be exercised with the intent of injuring another or in an excessive and unreasonable manner, and therefore contrary to the requirements of good faith."
"1375. The parties shall conduct themselves in good faith, both at the time the obligation arises and at the time it is performed or extinguished."
To give false references results in vitiating the landlord's consent to rent the dwelling in that the latter makes a decision based on erroneous information following a fraudulent action of the candidate in order to deceive the landlord and that, otherwise, he would never have signed the lease with this person.
The consistent case law confirms that where a party violates standards of behaviour generally accepted in the community, the person is in bad faith and this behaviour can result in a contract signed under these conditions by the cancellation of the contract.
In a decision of the Régie du logement dealing with this subject, and in circumstances where the tenant voluntarily lied about his references in order to contract a lease under false information, the administrative judge cancelled the said lease.
Me Morin explains that:
"Without going into all the details of the testimonies, the tenants admitted at the hearing that they gave a false reference in order to obtain the lease of the rented accommodation, because the person who had then answered the telephone for the rental of another dwelling had given bad references concerning them."
"After analyzing the evidence, the court is of the opinion that it has been shown that the tenants gave a false reference that was decisive for the consent of the landlords for the rental of the dwelling.
The court cannot condone such conduct and therefore considers, in the light of the evidence, that the tenants have not shown good faith and that the error caused by this fraud cancels the lease concluded between the parties. Since the enjoyment of the premises cannot be accorded, the court cancels the lease as of August 1, 2013."
From there comes therefore the need to do a credit investigation and a behavioural survey prior to your decision in addition to the references of the previous owner. This is a critical and required investment in 2018, where fraud and identity theft are gaining momentum.
You should know that once the lease is signed, or the keys have been given to the candidate, it is too late to think about this. It is therefore important to do your complete investigation before signing the lease.
2013 QCRDL 24089