Instead of waiting for the government, a nonprofit has created its own citizen rent registry.
If you've looked for an apartment in Montreal recently, you're probably all-too-familiar with rising rents, line-ups for apartment visits and the general feeling of helplessness that comes with living through a housing crisis.
But a Quebec nonprofit is trying to put the agency back into the hands of local renters. La Base, an organization that works to create, operate and support open data projects, has built a citizens' rent registry, providing the public with a place to review rent prices online before committing to a lease.
Tenants who are already locked into a lease can log their own rent on an interactive map in order to inform potential future tenants in the same unit, building or neighbourhood. You'll also find tenant rights Q&As built into the site.
How do I use the registry?
Anyone can go to the Registre Des Loyers website and anonymously add their lease information to the registry. This means your rent will become publicly available data that the public can see as they explore the interactive map.
Quebec law does not place a cap on how much landlords can increase rent between leases. However, the landlord is obligated to show tenants the lowest rent paid in the last 12 months before they sign the rental agreement.
If you don't agree with the price, you can bring your case to the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL) to fix the rent guided by a calculation based on previous rent prices. But, as the TAL explains on its calculation form, "the amounts provided by the landlord have not been verified by the Housing Authority and are the sole responsibility of the landlord."
"In Quebec, the lowest price paid for a unit is what legal increases [are based on], but the party that provides this information is also the party that would benefit from lying about this information," said Adam Mongrain, director of La Base.
"Someone knows exactly how to price it to get the maximum amount of money, and the other person does not have all the information to negotiate properly [...] So having this information in Quebec is especially useful."
The registry creates "transparency," Mongrain said.
Where did the idea for the registry come from?
Mongrain said the registry is not a new idea.
In June 2020, Québec solidaire MNA Andrés Fontecilla introduced a private member's bill asking the government to create a "Rent Register, which allows a lessee to know the rent paid in the last five years for a dwelling."
Just last month, the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec called on the TAL to create a public rent registry amid "skyrocketing rents."
"Tenant advocacy groups have been making the case for a rental registry for a very long time now," Mongrain said.
"What we decided to do with the Registre Des Loyers is just not wait for the government and do it ourselves."
What is the ultimate goal of the registry?
Since launching in June, Mongrain said the registry has gotten upwards of 5,000 new lease submissions. Combined with the 6,000 leases already added during the testing phase, that makes for 11,000 publicly accessible rent prices or data points on the map.
"It means that people see the value and want to do something about the housing crisis," Mongrain said.
With more participation in the registry comes more comments in the comments field.
Mongrain gave the example of a Montrealer who wrote that they'd gone to court twice to keep their landlord from raising the rent from $1,500 a month to $3,000 — a 100% increase.
"We are hoping to influence consumer behaviours to incentivize good acting by actors in the market," Mongrain said.
"As people provide more and more information, and as more and more people sign up for the rental registry, it becomes something to keep in mind if you are someone who rents out units because there's a fair chance that the people we are renting out to know their rights and have access to or will access the rental registry."
According to a new report by liv.rent.
While the city is still not close to having the most expensive average rent prices in Canada, the cost of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments in Montreal will definitely make you sweat.
Liv.rent looked at current average rents in nine Montreal neighbourhoods. Prices in the most and least expensive areas evaluated in the report, Downtown Montreal and Ahuntsic-Cartierville, respectively, are outlined below.
Most expensive: Downtown Montreal
The downtown had the most expensive average rent among all unfurnished apartment listing types included in the report.
Average rent for unfurnished one-bedroom: $1,450
Average rent for unfurnished two-bedroom: $2,077
Average rent for unfurnished three-bedroom: $2,509
It's no surprise that some of the most central Montreal neighbourhoods are also the most expensive. The Plateau had the second-highest average unfurnished one-bedroom apartment rent with a rate of $1,351 per month.
You're much better off getting an empty apartment downtown if your budget is tight. You'll pay nearly $250 more per month for a furnished one-bedroom apartment, according to liv.rent.
Least expensive: Ahuntsic-Cartierville
The borough along the Rivière des Prairies had the least expensive average rent among all unfurnished apartment categories.
Average rent for unfurnished one-bedroom: $942
Average rent for unfurnished two-bedroom: $1,454
Average rent for unfurnished three-bedroom: $1,720
Verdun had the second-lowest average rate, with rent at $1,079, $1,567 and $1,771 for unfurnished one, two and three-bedroom apartments, respectively.
Ahuntsic-Cartierville is everything Downtown Montreal isn't. It's quiet, suburban, and at the end of the orange line. But don't let that deter you from looking for an apartment there.
As one of the few neighbourhoods where you can still find a reasonable rental rate, Ahuntsic-Cartierville is certainly an up-and-comer.
As usual, unfurnished is the way to go if you're on a tight budget.
Meanwhile, some of us can't even RENT one property.
According to a survey by Royal LePage, some young Montreal homeowners own more than one property. In fact, 16% of homeowning poll respondents between the ages of 18 and 35 said this was the case.
Even though the rental market is stressed these days, a number of "secondary property owners" don't actually use their second property for rental income, Royal LePage reports.
The company theorized that this is due to the affordability of homes in Montreal compared to Toronto and Vancouver.
"In Montreal, although the real estate market has begun to catch up in recent years, prices remain considerably more affordable, so buyers can purchase without necessarily leveraging equity from a primary residence," real estate broker Roseline Guèvremont said in a press release.
Thirty-seven percent of secondary property owners in Montreal don't collect rental income while 25% said that they only use their second property to collect rental income.
"Among secondary property owners in Montreal, the majority are using the properties for leisure, like recreational purposes, rather than as an investment," Guèvremont said.
"Confidence in the Montreal real estate market has continued to rise in recent years, and many clients have expressed [...] their preference to invest in brick and mortar properties. For younger buyers, it's much more straightforward than investing in the stock market."
It looks like a postcard!
If you love the Gaspé Peninsula, you'll probably fall in love with this house for sale in the Quebec region, too. With the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence River passing directly through its backyard, this property makes you feel like you're on vacation all year round — and, at an asking price of $349,000, it's actually less expensive than a Montreal condo.
The charming one-and-a-half-storey home is located in the town of Cap d'Espoir on a lot of over 43,000 square feet.
On the main floor, there are two large living rooms as well as a kitchen and dining room that overlook the waterfront with their large windows. Upstairs, you'll find three bedrooms and a full bathroom. The house also has a powder room and wood stove.
Through the dining room, you can access the large deck and the above-ground pool in the backyard.
On the grounds, there's also a double garage, a wood chipping area, a fire pit and a large lawn.
In addition to all the details that make you want to leave the city, the next owners get modern finishes and breathtaking sunsets.
Seaside House For Sale In Gaspésie
Address: 1529, rte 132 O., Cap-d'Espoir, QC
Description: A charming yet modern house that has the sea running right through its backyard.
People living there won't spend more than 25% of their income on housing.
The $1.7 million in funding will go to the "construction of a second-stage house for the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal (NWSM)." These homes will be highly affordable and will provide the people living there with access to support and community services, as well as a social pediatrics clinic.
Today’s press conference was great! Kevin Deer held a tobacco ceremony, to bring good thoughts, energy and success… https://t.co/bB1jHF2lZE— Nakuset S (@Nakuset S)1626122440.0
"This initiative has been in the planning stages for over ten years," Nakuset, Director of the NWSM, said in a press release.
The homes will run for about "60.8% of the median rent for the area" and be universally accessible.
Affordability will be maintained for the next 35 years and subsidies will guarantee that residents won't spend more than 25% of their income on housing costs.
The homes "will provide a place where Indigenous women in difficulty and their children can begin to rebuild their lives, regain their independence, and feel supported and safe," Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, added.
Just a 1.5 hour drive from Montreal.
From swimming pools to shopping complexes to Airbnbs, people are finding new uses for shipping containers and it's not just because they look cute. They're durable, cost-effective and can be highly energy efficient. This $435,000 house for sale in the Laurentians — about an hour and a half from Montreal — is made from five steel shipping containers and it's no exception.
The listing describes this property as a "unique and modern house" with "unparalleled energy efficiency" and a "breathtaking panoramic view."
The one-and-a-half-storey home was built in 2016 and sits on a spacious 1.6-acre lot.
It has two bedrooms, one full bathroom, one powder room and a wood-burning stove.
The stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer are all included.
While the property is clearly beautiful in the summertime, there's no need to fear winter either, as the house is insulated with urethane and comes with a heated concrete floor. According to the listing, you can access alpine ski slopes in minutes, and the Viking Club's cross-country trails are just seconds away — so it's also a skier's paradise.