Should Quebec allow landlords to demand a security deposit?

Property owners have for years been calling for the right to demand a security deposit in Quebec. The CAQ government says it's considering the idea.

Rental housing advocates argue a deposit would make it harder for low-income renters to find a home

The Quebec government is considering allowing landlords to ask potentially renters for a security deposit before signing a lease. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

The Coalition Avenir Québec government is considering allowing landlords to demand a security deposit from potential renters, doing away with a longstanding restriction in the province.

"This is an issue we are studying," said a spokesperson for Andrée Laforest, minister of municipal affairs and housing.

The ministry will be discussing the idea with landlord and tenant associations alike, the spokesperson said.

Laforest is facing pressure from Quebec's property owners' corporation (CORPIQ), which has for years been calling for the right to demand a month's rent as a desposit to cover any potential damages beyond normal wear and tear.

The organization launched a petition on the National Assembly's website last month, quickly garnering nearly 5,000 signatures.

Deposits are permitted nearly everywhere else in Canada, CORPIQ said in a statement ahead of July 1.

Ontario prohibits security deposits, but does allow landlords to require an advance of one month's rent before moving in.

In Quebec, it says, there is an estimated $150 million in annual damage to properties that exceeds normal wear and tear.

Housing advocates have argued a deposit would further limit the options of low-income earners looking for a place to live. 

But CORPIQ maintains it would have the opposite effect: by providing a deposit, tenants with a weaker financial record increase their chances of convincing an owner to rent to them. 

CORPIQ spokesperson Hans Brouillette said the province "is more than ready for a legislative change that would lead to greater accountability of tenants to each other and to the state of their housing."

Véronique Laflamme, a representative from the Montreal housing group FRAPRU, said tenants are "poorly protected" as it is and such a regulation would further impede access to housing at a time when a decent, affordable apartment is already hard to find.

The previous Liberal government also considered doing away with the prohibition of deposits, but never made a change.

At that time, the CAQ said it was in favour of CORPIQ's demands.