Some Montreal tenants are being evicted so their apartments can be turned into tourist rentals. Turns out that's legal
Housing advocates call for stronger municipal, provincial laws to protect tenants
Jean-François Raymond was floored when he learned his landlords could legally convert his apartment into a short-term rental for tourists.
He received an eviction notice on Dec. 30, 2022, informing him that by July, he'd have to leave his Hochelaga-Maisonneuve home of 22 years.
"It was the place that I raised my kid. There are plenty of memories," Raymond said.
To his shock, his building on Ontario Street is in an area where rezoning residential units for short-term tourist rentals is allowed.
The Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough limited tourist accommodations in 2016 to some areas where there are businesses and buildings with three or more dwellings.
Raymond is challenging his eviction and seeking compensation with the province's housing tribunal, the Tribunal administratif du logement. He's alleging that his landlords don't have the permit required to rezone the building.
Danny Kang, a co-owner of the building, declined to comment. But the eviction notice shows he plans to convert the triplex into short-term tourist accommodations.
Within landlords' rights
Landlords in Quebec are entitled to repossess a home if they want to house their relatives, if they seek to expand their property or, as in this case, if they want to convert a residence for commercial purposes.
In 2001, when Raymond moved in, rent for the 6 ½ room apartment was $525 per month. Now, he may have to uproot his life, not only from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve but possibly from the city, to find housing he can afford.
"I am very angry because we're not leaving for his old mother or his child going to school. He's going to change us for a hotel, an Airbnb, for tourism," Raymond said. "In Montreal, it's very hard to find a place to rent."
In the two decades since he moved in, rent has almost doubled — up to $910 a month — but is still far below market value. At the current price, he would have stayed, even though the apartment could use some sprucing up.
Annie Lapalme is a local housing advocate who specializes in dealing with evictions for Entraide logement Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and Comité BAILS. She's been in talks with Raymond and the other triplex tenants since they received their eviction notice.
"We told them it would be very difficult to win the case," if the landlords can prove the project is serious, she said.
Lapalme spoke at a small rally held outside the building Tuesday morning to protest the housing crisis, which she says has seen more landlords evicting tenants to make a profit.
She says the provincial government lacks the political will to change the Quebec Civil Code to better protect tenants.
"The evictions are taking place in a context where it's totally invisible," Lapalme said. "People are leaving. Their life is ruined, but nobody knows it."
Philippe Couture, a spokesperson for Quebec's housing minister, called Raymond's eviction "very concerning."
"We understand that it's not easy for tenants who receive eviction or repossession notices while we are in the middle of a housing crisis, and we are aware that sometimes homeowners abuse their power to convert their building," Couture said.
He added that although municipal governments can't ban short-term rentals entirely, they are able to limit them in their jurisdiction.
With files from Rowan Kennedy and Jennifer Yoon
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