Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: LaCité Apartments in Montreal

I'm at the end of a 14-month lease at LaCité Apartments in Montreal, and wanted to jot down some notes my on my experience here - hopefully this can help a random Googler decide if they want to sign a lease here. 

Here's my pros and cons, anonymous internet friends! 

Pros
  • Awesome location. Close to McGill and the downtown core. It's a 20 minute walk to the Centre Bell, 10 minutes to St Laurent Blvd, and 10 minutes to Place Des Arts Metro station. 
  • Clean, well-kept, high quality units. I posted some pictures of my apartment here and here. As tenants move, I think they're replacing old ugly carpets with faux-hardwood like my unit - looks better, in my opinion. 
  • Amazing in-building services. The four LaCite buildings share an underground shopping complex with a grocery store, pharmacy, post office, barber, bank, liquor store, gym, cinema, and restaurants. 
  • Concrete walls & floors ensure decent sound insulation. You can't hear voices or footsteps, but you can hear your neighbours if they're pounding their bass, or dropping bags of glass marbles on their tile floors. 
  • The process to sign a lease is pretty straightforward, and the woman who helped me was very nice. 
  • Overall the building's administration was really great and helpful. Because the LaCite complex is so big (1,200+ units) they have to play by the rules - they're less sketchy than some smaller landlords might be. 
  • Underground parking is available (but I don't have a car, so I can't vouch for if it's good or not). 
Cons
  • Rent is more expensive than other buildings in the area, but you're paying for the convenience of the location, the underground services and the administrative overhead. 
  • The building administration slips a "Happy Birthday" note into your door frame on your birthday. Presumably they have this information from copying some form of photo ID during the lease-signing process. While this is a well intentioned gesture, I found it creepy because I didn't authorize them to use my personal information in that way. 
  • LaCite staff tell you they will never enter your apartment without your explicit permission. This is not true. Due to the size of the complex, they equate "slipping a notice under your door" with "receiving your explicit permission". Yearly smoke detector inspection notices are slipped into door frames that say (paraphrased) "someone will enter your unit some time next week, just FYI". The most stunning to me was when a LaCite agent let an interested future renter into my apartment without my permission while I was in Saskatoon for Christmas. Their justification was the two notices that they slipped under my door.... while I was out of town, unable to read them. When they saw the unopened notices, they didn't phone me to get my permission to enter - they showed my apartment to the stranger anyway. This is unacceptable to me - I don't think anyone would be comfortable with the idea of a stranger checking out their home without their knowledge. 
Would I rent here again? Yes, overall it's been a wonderful place to live. But I would have a second lock installed on my door (an option available to tenants) and not provide the administration office with a copy of the key. I'd be happy to leave it unlocked for smoke detector inspections, but I would absolutely leave it locked during long absences.