With tax increases looming, housing advocates want better protections for renters

News source from CTV News

Quebec Solidaire is calling on the provincial government to enact more laws to protect tenants but a group of landlords is objecting, saying they face too much red tape already.

The party is pushing for stronger rent controls to prevent “renovictions” – evictions initiated by landlords looking to upgrade their buildings and therefore charge higher rents or list the units on sites like Airbnb.

“The speculators buy buildings and they don’t really care about the people there,” said Westmount Legal Clinic’s Ted Wright. “They throw them out or terrorize them in some way so that they leave on their own accord.”

Housing advocates said that many renovictions happen in summer and fall and while Quebec has rent control laws landlords are permitted to raise rent after renovations as long as those improvements take place outside the term of a lease.

Martin Messier of the Quebec Landlords Association said improvements to properties are a vital business practice.

“It’s not to evict people but to better address the market,” he said.

Quebec Solidaire has said they believe new rules are needed as taxes are set to increase in Montreal’s municipal budget, a reality that Messier acknowledged.

Wright said the situation calls for a rent moratorium that’s implemented carefully.

“A temporary moratorium is good, however you’ve got two things to look at,” he said. “Will it harm landlords that are being good? What will it do to the overall number of dwellings available?”

Wright pointed out that while renovictions are often illegal, many tenants have rights they either don’t exercise or aren’t aware of.

“Under the law the landlord can’t do it but landlords do it because there’s no penalty,” he said.   

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