Montreal tenants protest Quebec housing bill in Parc-Ex

“It’s a devastating bill,” says an advocate at a Montreal protest against CAQ’s proposed Bill 31, upholding the ban on lease transfers in Quebec. Diona Macalinga reports.

By News Staff

Hundreds of Montrealers are taking part in a demonstration against Quebec’s Bill 31 and rent increases Saturday afternoon.

Bill 31 would allow landlords to block lease transfers. Tenants can use lease transfers to take over rental units and avoid large rent hikes.

“It’s going to change the city as we know it forever. It’s a devastating bill,” an NDG resident at the protest told CityNews.

“Our only tool against the housing crisis right now is lease transfers. It’s been around for 50 years. It’s absurd to think to take it away. It’s all we have.”

Bill 31 protest in Montreal’s Parc-Ex Dec. 2, 2023. (Alan Sukonnik, CityNews)

That specific article of the bill was passed this week and will be included in the final version of the proposed law. Still undergoing parliamentary study, Bill 31 will be presented at the National Assembly for adoption in the weeks ahead.

Housing advocates are saying that will have major consequences on the housing crisis.

“The struggle is really at a turning point this week,” sad Amy Darwish, a coordinator with Parc-Extension Action Committee. “We learned that the article around lease transfers was adopted by the parliamentary commission and that they are hoping to make it pass before the winter.”

Housing advocates at Montreal’s Bill 31 protest Dec. 2, 2023. (Diona Macalinga, CityNews)

Many tenant groups took part in Saturday’s protest in Parc-Extension, including the Coalition of Housing Committees and Tenants Associations of Quebec’s (RCLALQ) and Front de lutte pour un immobilier populaire (FLIP).

The groups are calling for mandatory rent control.

“The demonstration is happening here in Parc-Ex,” said Darwish. “That’s not a coincidence. It’s a neighbourhood that has seen a really staggering rise in evictions, in rent as well.”

Bill 31 protest in Montreal’s Parc-Ex Dec. 2, 2023. (Alan Sukonnik, CityNews)
Martin Blanchard, coordinator for RCLALQ, at Montreal’s Bill 31 protest Dec. 2, 2023. (Diona Macalinga, CityNews)

Parc-Extension resident Edward Fell recently received an eviction notice. Although his landlords haven’t followed through with the eviction yet, Fell says he doesn’t see a future in Montreal as he’s having to rely on his one pension cheque to pay rent.

“I know that I’m not going to be able to live in this city of Montreal anymore,” fell said. “I have to go elsewhere in the country and pay exorbitant rent. I might as well just take my cheque and throw it in the garbage.”

Parc-Ex resident Edward Fell received an eviction notice from his landlord. He doesn’t believe there’s a future for him in Montreal. (Diona Macalinga, CityNews)

The Quebec minister responsible for housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, is arguing that if an owner refuses to transfer the lease, the lease will simply be terminated and the tenant will be free to leave.

Advocates believe they can’t rely on Duranceau, who proposed the bill, to be handling the city’s housing affairs after news came out of her involvement in house flipping.

“The interest that she represents are not ours, are not that of the tenants,” said a protester.

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