Québec solidaire wants to address ‘savage rent increases’


The party wants legislation for a section of Quebec leases that permits owners to raise prices as they desire for rentals leased for fewer than five years.

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Québec solidaire announced on Sunday plans to present a bill to counter “savage rent increases” for rentals that have been leased for fewer than five years.

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At the moment, section F on Quebec leases allows building owners to raise rents as they desire, and tenants have no ability to contest those increases before the province’s housing tribunal.

“There are incredibly high, abusive increases,” QS spokesperson for housing and habitation, Andrés Fontecilla, told La Presse Canadienne. “In the context of a housing shortage, in a context where tenants, in most regions of Quebec, cannot leave a dwelling because they will not be able to find another — well, this is the perfect opportunity for some to impose hikes.”

A report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released Friday indicates in several small Quebec municipalities, vacancy rates are near zero per cent.

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Fontecilla called on Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Andrée Laforest to legislate section F on leases.

“Does she defend the interests of families in Quebec, or the interests of large real estate owners?” Fontecilla said.

Laforest’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from La Presse Canadienne.

But according to the Association des propriétaires du Québec (APQ), clause F is necessary to encourage the building of new units, given the noticeable lack of housing in various Québec regions.

“The expenses of a new building are difficult to predict,” APQ president Martin Messier said. “With more flexible marketing… we can afford a certain margin of error.”

He gave the example of landlords forgetting to complete the section and then belatedly realizing rents are not sufficient to maintain the building, or that “there is no one left who wants to buy that building” for lack of profitability.

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According to Messier, without this provision, the owner will “rent at the most expensive price possible” for fear of losing money, or not invest at all in new projects.

Fontecilla agreed it’s something to consider in legislation, but argued “after a year it is reasonable to have a very fair idea of ​​what it will cost” without having to wait five years.

“We do not prohibit increases with a framework for clause F,” he said, adding above all, he wants the tenants in question to have the ability to defend themselves in front of Quebec’s housing tribunal.

This article was produced with the financial support of the Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowships.

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