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Gatineau landlords want more power to evict deadbeat tenants

Landlords in Gatineau, Que., want more power to evict deadbeat tenants, saying the current system allows tenants to take advantage of loopholes to contest eviction orders and live rent-free.

Say Quebec's Régie du logement allows abuse of system

The Corporation propriétaires immobiliers du Québec (CORPIQ) says there were more than 2,200 requests to overturn decisions by the Régie du logement — Quebec's landlord-tenant tribunal — in 2018. (Radio-Canada)

Landlords in Gatineau, Que., are asking for more power to evict deadbeat tenants.

They say the Régie du logement — Quebec's tribunal for disputes between landlords and tenants — makes it too easy for tenants to withhold rent and take advantage of loopholes which delay judgments, use up court resources, and ultimately allow them to live rent-free.

Gatineau landlord Marie Claude Charron said one of her tenants has not paid rent since Dec. 1, 2018, so she applied to the tribunal to have the woman evicted.

The tenant didn't appear at the hearing and the judge ruled in Charron's favour.

But Charron said her tenant didn't open the door when the bailiff attempted to serve her eviction notice. The tenant contested the ruling on the basis she didn't receive notice to attend — which means a new court date, more correspondence, and in Charron's eyes, more delays. 

Landlords in Gatineau want changes to Quebec's Régie du logement rules, which allow tenants to request a 'retraction of judgement,' essentially asking for a 'do-over.' (Radio-Canada)

'I just want her gone'

Charron said that as of June 1 she'll be owed six months' rent, which is more than $5,000.

"I'm willing to give up on [collecting] the rent, I just want her gone so I can fix up the place and rent it again … to a good tenant," said Charron.

The Corporation propriétaires immobiliers du Québec (CORPIQ) said there were more than 2,200 requests to overturn Régie decisions in 2018, which it said points to abuse by tenants.

"One month of unpaid rent quickly transforms into four, or five or six months or more," said CORPIQ spokesperson Hans Brouillette, who added that the system is failing landlords, overloading courts and costing taxpayers money.

As for the renters who contest the tribunal's judgment?

"In the majority of cases, [they] have no reason not to pay rent, but only want to slow down the system to live rent free as long as possible," said Brouillette. 

CAQ promised reforms

CORPIQ wants the government to change the rules as it modernizes the province's landlord and tenant laws, with reforms the Coalition Avenir Québec promised during the provincial election in 2018.

Andrée Laforest, the province's Minister of Municpal Affairs and Housing, tabled Bill 16 earlier this month. It promises extra resources: $24 million over five years to hire 30 new employees, including nine more commissioners who rule on appeals. 

But CORPIQ said Bill 16 doesn't go far enough. It's proposing an amendment that Quebec landlords be allowed to demand first and last month's rent, like they do in other provinces.

If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, the landlord could use the banked money to meet the tenant's obligation.

Alternatively, CORPIQ would like the tribunal to collect rent from the tenant, as a neutral third party, when a judgment is contested.

That money would be either given to the landlord or returned to the tenant after a final decision comes down.

A group that looks out for the rights of Gatineau renters, Logemen' occupe, says the increase in appeals to the tribunal is due to the housing crisis, since tenants facing eviction have so few options. 

The group wants the Régie to consider mitigating factors when a landlord applies for an eviction order for non-payment — for example, if a tenant withholds rent because of mould.

It describes the current system as "all-or-nothing."

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