Landlords use "malicious schemes" to evict long-term, low-income residents, says an advocacy group.
Despite a housing crisis, a wage crisis and a pandemic, attempted renovictions of long-term, low-income renters across Quebec went up significantly for the second year in a row, data from a provincial coalition of housing organizations shows.
The Coalition of Housing Committees and Tenants Associations of Quebec (RCLALQ) evaluated 874 cases and found that 53% of attempts to evict or repossess people's homes came from landlords who had owned the building for less than one year.
"For a second consecutive year, the RCLALQ notes a significant increase in the number of tenants who visit a housing committee because their landlord is trying to evict them," the advocacy group wrote in a release.
In a statement sent to MTL Blog, RCLALQ spokesperson Maxime Roy-Allard called the increase in eviction attempts in 2021 "historic," estimating it was the highest number in the last two decades.
Roy-Allard has also noted that many of these landlords repossess these apartments to "optimize their investment by evicting tenants and then abusively increasing rents."
Even worse, the group said, the longer a tenant's been living in an apartment, the more likely it is they'll fall victim to a renoviction.
According to Roy-Allard, of the tenants targeted by renovictions this year, "50% had been occupying their home for at least 10 years and more than a third for 15 years. These tenant households paid an average of $767 per month in rent, which is much lower than the average rent of $844 in Quebec."
This worrying trend is no longer exclusive to Montreal. Some landlords in Quebec City, perhaps having taken notes from Montreal's predatory landlords, are following suit, attempting to renovict long-term and low-income tenants from their homes.
"In the Quebec City area, 90 tenants have called on the information services of the Bureau d'animation et information logement (BAIL) regarding a repossession of housing, an eviction or a renovation, which is five times more than two years ago," the RCLALQ noted.
BAIL community organizer Jonathan Carmichael said, "We are seeing more and more building owners, particularly in the working-class neighbourhoods of Quebec City, using malicious schemes to obtain the permanent departure of tenants who have often been in place for many years."
Solutions for preventing renovictions do exist, says the RCLALQ, but it's up to the government to put them into action. The group has called on the minister of housing to make changes to Quebec's Civil Code to prohibit repossessions "in all sectors where the vacancy rate is less than 3%."
The group also demands that "the compensation paid to tenants in the event of repossession should be considerably increased" to the equivalent of 12 months' rent in all cases.
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