'In Quebec, it's a free for all:' Montreal tenants' group calls for stronger rent controls

Affordable housing advocates say the province should do more to help its low-income renters.

Housing advocates note lack of affordable housing, increase in rent over last decade

A Montreal-based group is calling for more social housing and help for the city's low-income renters. (Radio-Canada)

A Montreal-based tenants' rights group is calling for tighter restrictions on how much landlords should be allowed to charge for rentals in the province.

Maxime Roy-Allard, of the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec, says rents have gone up over the last 10 years even though more places have become available.
Maxime Roy-Allard speaks for a Quebec tenant's rights association and says the government should take a stronger stance on rent controls. (CBC)

There are an estimated 500,000 rental apartments in Montreal with rent averages ranging a great deal based on location and occupancy.

"We know that all over the city there is a lack of affordable housing for families," said Roy-Allard.

He says the province should do more to help its low-income renters by moving towards Ontario's model and investing in social housing projects.

"We want the Quebec province to follow the Ontario example – as of now, every apartment in Ontario is under rent control," he said, explaining that landlords aren't allowed to increase rents by more than a certain percentage. 

In Quebec, the provincial housing board, the Régie du logement, issues annual percentages for calculating rent increases based on a number of factors.

These percentages, however, are not mandatory and landlords can choose to increase at higher rates depending on the case.

Roy-Allard told CBC that he often sees instances of low income families getting pushed out of their neighbourhoods or forced into places that are not in good condition because of high prices.

"In Quebec, it's a free for all. Landlords can ask whatever they want and tenants are in a position where they don't want to refuse the rent otherwise they risk being pushed out," he said. 

In January 2017, the provincial government pledged to invest a total of $407 million into social housing in Quebec over two years, with Ottawa contributing $286 million to the province's $121 million.

With files from Salim Valji