MONTREAL – Quebec Solidaire (QS) wants to freeze rental costs for a full year, prohibiting landlords from asking for rent increases and canceling any increases scheduled to take effect next summer.

Bill 390, tabled by QS deputy for Laurier-Dorion Andres Fontecilla, is only one page long. If passed, landlords could not increase rents from June 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023.

“The purpose of this law is to ease the financial burden on tenants,” reads the first paragraph of the bill.

The bill was approved by the Regroupement des committees de logement et associations de tenantes du Québec (RCLALQ), a major tenants’ advocacy group, which called the proposed measures “necessary”.

In Quebec, landlords can ask their tenants for a rent increase when renewing the lease, provided that the increase is “fair and reasonable”.

While tenants are free to refuse the hike, RCLALQ says it’s not always that simple.

The group says evictions, which are allowed when the landlord wants to subdivide or expand the unit, among other things, “are often motivated by other purposes, including excessive and illegal rent increases.”

Meanwhile, rental costs have increased since last year, according to an RCLALQ study released in June that examined thousands of listings on Kijiji between January and May 2021.

The group found that the average monthly price of a 4 ½ in the Montreal metropolitan area was $ 1,349, 11% more than in 2020.

But costs haven’t just risen in Montreal – other markets have reported double-digit increases as well.

In Sherbrooke, the same unit cost $ 839. Although it is still cheaper than in Montreal, it is an increase of 16% compared to the previous year.

In Granby, a small town an hour east of Montreal, rent for a two-bedroom apartment rose 22 percent, according to the study.

Housing advocates say a rent freeze could help quell the flames of what they call “the worst housing crisis in the past 10 years (file photo)

“A RENT FREEZE WILL STOP BLEEDING”

For the moment, “nothing is being done to limit abusive and illegal rent increases,” said RCLALQ spokesperson Marjolaine Deneault in a statement, sounding the alarm on what the group calls “the worst housing crisis in the last 10 years ”.

“The crisis is linked to an explosion in costs,” she said. “The mechanisms in place to regulate rent increases are not working.”

Fontecilla, QS housing spokesperson, calls on the government to pass the bill before December 1. This is when requests for rent increases become more frequent, he says.

“The notices of rent increases will start to arrive within a few weeks, it is time to act and slow down the unreasonable explosion in house prices,” the minister said in a statement on Sunday.

“Every day, families contact my office because they have to move and cannot find housing that they can afford,” he continued.

Fontecilla says the bill, if passed, would give the government time to find new ways to slow the rise in rental prices in the province.

“A rent freeze will stop the bleeding in the short term, but the CAQ will have to go much further to turn the tide.

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