Everyone is tired here, sighs Youssef, resident of 90, rue Crépeau, in the borough of Saint-Laurent. Since the building was bought on March 31 by Investissements Crepeau Deguire SEC, a company owned by Mr. Zavriyev, Youssef says he is under pressure to leave his home. The story is similar to 95 rue Deguire, a building acquired at the same time.

And the pressures are not new, according to several tenants. In the days following the sale, two representatives of Investissements Crepeau Deguire SEC, David Mimoun and Avi Elkeslassy, ​​began to meet the hundred tenants of these two towers of 77 apartments to offer them to leave before September 2022, due to the major work that the company plans to do there.

Two options are submitted to the tenants, the latter report to us. Option 1 consists of finding temporary accommodation during the works and then returning to renovated accommodation, but at an increased rent based on the cost of the works and inflation. Option 2, which the managers would favor, say the tenants: leave your accommodation with the equivalent, in your pocket, of several months’ rent as compensation.

Youssef, in the parking lot at 90, rue Crépeau.

Youssef, in the parking lot at 90, rue Crépeau

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Options that not everyone likes. “They offered me $8,000 cash to leave, but I refused,” explains Youssef, who has lived at 90 Crépeau for more than 25 years. His rent is currently $710 for a 3 ½.

Like Youssef, Ismahan, Marin and Fouad, tenants we spoke to, have also refused an offer from the landlord and have no intention of leaving at the moment.

Housing renovated into apartments top of the line

Real estate entrepreneur Henry Zavriyev is not his first feat in the field. He recently made headlines for similar reasons regarding the Mont-Carmel and Château Beaurivage seniors’ residences, acquired by his companies. The buildings on Deguire and Crépeau were not the only ones he bought in the Saint-Laurent sector either.

The building next door, 70 rue Crépeau, has also belonged to Henry Zavriyev since April. This building had been renovated by the former owner, Topo Immobilier, who had also put pressure on the tenants to leave their homes because of work.

Some apartments at 70 Crépeau are currently for rent by the new company Investissements Crépeau Deguire SEC $1650/month for 12 months instead of $1950! Upscale condo-style 2-bedroom apartmentcan we read on a recent online announcement of a 5 ½ for rent in the building.

Impressive amounts that make the tenants of 90 Crépeau and 95 Deguire fear the worst, once the renovations are complete.

People are not able to pay $1,200, $1,400 in rent, exclaims Youssef. They want tenants to leave to raise rents. In the meantime, he argues, they are not making any repairs.

An empty apartment.

An empty apartment at 95 boulevard Deguire

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Maria Vasquez, general manager of the Saint-Laurent housing committee, who had been able to see the pressure exerted at the time by Topo immobilier, is now trying to accompany the tenants of these two towers to explain their rights and possible remedies. at the Administrative Housing Tribunal.

When there is a problem of major work and disguised eviction, we try to give the clearest possible information to the tenant. But some accept the agreement, without thinking of the long term. »

A quote from Maria Vasquez, Executive Director of the Saint-Laurent Housing Committee

Degradation of services

90 Crépeau and 95 Deguire, until recently owned by Topo Immobilier, have not been maintained for years, according to residents. During our visit, we saw dilapidated staircases, broken windows, cracks on the columns of the garage, one of the two elevators of the condemned 95 Deguire. Empty apartments in a state of insalubrity are abandoned.

But the situation has worsened since the arrival of new owners, according to tenants.

I feel humiliated, stressed, we are under great pressureexclaims Safia, one of the tenants of 95 Deguire. Since the arrival of the new owner, nothing works in this building, she says. The water often cuts, the electricity too, they removed the carpets, the sewers run in the garage. Before, it was not like that, there were problems, but now it is deteriorating rapidly.

Portrait of Safia, in her home.

Safia, resident of 95, boulevard Deguire

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

According to her, this is pressure to encourage residents to leave their apartments as quickly as possible.

In April, the elevator in the 4-storey, 77-unit building was out of order for two weeks. My elderly neighbor had to climb the stairs on all fourssays Safia.

According to Geneviève Bouchard, a spokeswoman for the borough, eight complaints have been filed about the elevator, the first was received on April 21. It wasn’t until May 4 that services were restored, after a call and two visits from city inspectors.

Nazir, aged 90, receives us in his apartment. He has resided for 10 years at 95 Deguire. He told me he wants to stayexplains Hussein, another resident present during the meeting. He is not able to move, it is impossible. It is a great sadness for him to see everyone leave. He adds : He hasn’t been able to take a real shower for more than a year because the repairs haven’t been done.

Nazir is sitting in an armchair in his apartment.

Nazir, resident of 95, boulevard Deguire

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Lawyer Antoine Morneau-Sénéchal, author of the book Residential rentalsees in this way of doing a kind of psychological warfare. We try to discourage tenants from staying. They are told: “If you stay, it’s going to be hell”. The more people leave, the more it gives the owners a balance of power.

If a person leaves temporarily for work, on his return, it is not true that the owner can put the rents at a staggering amount, he wishes to point out. Yes, there will be a rent increase, but it will be governed by the regulations and the tenant will be able to contest.

No pressure exerted, according to a building manager

We contacted Henry Zavriyev for an interview. He referred us to David Mimoun, project manager for his company. And Mr. Mimoun is categorical: work was needed in both buildings.

When we acquired the buildings, we received the City’s offense book which was more than 50 pages, he explains. They weren’t maintained at all.

About $20 million is budgeted for the works, according to Mimoun, and their duration is estimated at 10 months. We’re going to start doing the small jobs that don’t require a permit.he adds to explain the fact that the carpets have been removed on all floors.

Regarding the elevator blocked for two weeks at 95 Deguire, Mr. Mimoun explains that the drains of the building were completely blocked and that the water was rising in the elevator shaft. So the plumbing problem had to be repaired beforehand, which took time.

Otherwise, he refutes any pressure exerted on the tenants. The world feels that way, and that’s normal. But we have specifications for the repairs to be made with deadlines to be met. We are in a rather delicate situation.

He says very clearly give the two options to the tenants: Is [on leur donne] the notice of major renovation, either we offer them a transaction, an amicable termination of the lease, and then it’s their choice, their decision.

If the tenant chooses to stay, he explains to him that he will be able to return to their accommodation and will pay the same price as they are paying today. However, everything can change when the lease is renewed.

We will send the renewal notice followed by the rent increase, explains David Mimoun. Afterwards, the tenant accepts or refuses, it is his decision. And we, on our side, will have all the necessary supporting documents to justify this increase, and in the end it will be the Administrative Housing Tribunal that will have the last word.

Asked about the ambitions to convert the two buildings into high-end, condo-style apartments, as announced for 70 Crépeau, he replied: Even if it means being in the works, we are going to do great work, heavy work.

A broken window in the garage at 90, rue Crépeau.

A broken window in the garage at 90, rue Crépeau

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

A repeating owner strategy

Henry Zavriyev is well known to housing committees in Montreal.

It rages everywhere in Montreal, on the Plateau, in Pointe-Saint-Charles, in Ville-Marie, in Saint-Laurent… supports Gaétan Roberge, from the Ville-Marie Housing Committee. He buys buildings of a certain age, with a certain potential, and whose rents are relatively low.

Gaétan Roberge accompanied the seniors of the RPA du Mont-Carmel. These are bullying practices. Ushers showed up at the gates of the elderly at 7 a.m.

He also remembers what happened at 2421-2439 De Maisonneuve, buildings purchased by Henry Zavriyev in 2019. It’s always the same strategy. He acquires the building, they go to people one by one, and tell them: “I’m going to have to renovate, you’re going to have to leave”. He begins to offer amounts of money. In the long run, when half has given way, we start the work, it makes noise, it’s uproar.

I recently had to accompany tenants on boulevard Pie IX and on rue Bélanger whose block had been bought in March 2022 by Gestion Roxbury, a company attached to Henry Zavriyevsays Céline Camus, project manager at the Office Info Logement in Saint-Michel.

The practices are questionable to say the least, she argues. The landlord’s negotiator, David Mimoun, presents himself to the tenants almost the day after the purchase to have the most vulnerable tenants sign agreements so that they leave, with insistence and false information, such as major work.

These two cases have been the subject of articles in the media.

With the collaboration of Daniel Boily


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