The woman behind a Facebook group for Montrealers looking to assign their lease says she never expected it to be so popular.

Created in 2009, “J’te cede mon bail” (I assign you my lease) now has close to 8,000 members, most of them students and young professionals.

“Basically, what we want to avoid are landlords who take advantage of a tenant’s departure to implement appallingly high rent increases of $100, $150, $200,” the group’s administrator, Lili Émond, told Radio-Canada.

Émond said the group’s popularity testifies to the need for affordable housing in Montreal.

Assigning a lease is legal and involves a lease-holder transferring their lease to a new tenant.

The incoming tenant takes over the lease on the same terms to which the outgoing tenant had agreed.

Most significantly, the cost of rent remains what the previous tenant was paying.

If the outgoing tenant was a long-term leaseholder, that can mean bargain lodgings.

Apartments listed on the Facebook page have to meet specific criteria and fall within a certain price range.

Above all, those looking to transfer a lease need a good record with Quebec’s housing board, the Régie du Logement. The same goes for the candidate who will be assigned the lease.

Those assigning their leases also aren’t allowed to take any money from incoming tenants as part of the deal.

Émond said the screening process makes life easier for landlords, who get a reliable replacement tenant.

But not all landlords like the service provided by J’te cede mon bail.

Hans Brouillette, spokesman for Quebec’s largest landlords' association, called lease assignments “nothing less than rent control.”

Emond, however, said her group's intention is not to hold property owners hostage but rather to start a dialogue with them about keeping housing affordable.

Émond said the group will move to an open website that is currently under construction.

For the moment, the Facebook group's private status means you can only join it if an existing member invites you.