Bill 31, which is to modify certain provisions of residential leases, has aroused much criticism. When we question stakeholders from groups with an interest in housing, however, the picture becomes more nuanced.
“In the solutions mentioned in the bill, there is good. There is bad. As for renovations, it’s very, very good,” agrees Patrick Préville, CEO of the Fédération de l’habitation coopération du Québec (FHCQ). He was present at an event Wednesday morning bringing together organizations that are asking the Quebec government to act to counter the housing crisis.
“There are adjustments that make sense,” says Adam Mongrain, housing director of the Vivre en Ville organization. He was present at the same event. [The reversal] of the burden of proof in terms of evictions was something that was due. It’s interesting that the person with the most to gain [the owner] has the burden of proof. »
The bill harmonizes the provisions governing the repossession of housing, to house the owner or his parents, for example; and the eviction of the tenant in order to carry out major work.
“The government wanted to put repossession and eviction under the same formula. A tenant who does not respond to a notice will no longer be presumed to have accepted it, “explains Marc-André Plante, Director, Public Affairs and Government Relations at the Corporation of Real Estate Owners of Quebec (CORPIQ).
The bill also specifies the compensation to be paid in the event of eviction. This will be one month’s rent per year of occupancy up to a maximum of 24 months, plus an amount to cover moving. Currently, the compensation provided is 3 months and reasonable moving expenses. The spokesperson for the owners does not take offense.
“Right now, you end up with stories like the Da Giovanni where the tenant asks for a penthouse and $50,000,” he cites as an example. He refers to the project for a 176-unit residential tower opposite Émilie-Gamelin Park, which is blocked by a tenant who refuses to leave the premises until she has been given what she demands.
The provision of the bill that has caused a lot of ink to flow is the possibility given to landlords to refuse the assignment of the lease. Currently, the only serious reason for refusing the assignment of the lease is the inability to pay of the assignee (the buyer of the lease chosen by the tenant).
“It creates a lot of pressure on the tenants, the non-assignment of the lease. I think the fall consultations [on the bill] will be very interesting,” says Claude Pinard, CEO of Centraide of Greater Montreal, which has the charity play an active role in the housing file.
“The power to choose your tenant in a situation where there are more tenants than available units is an invitation to discriminate, to select the person who offers the best price. It will become possible if the lease assignment is withdrawn, ”says Adam Mongrain, of Vivre en Ville.
Despite the proposed changes to the assignment of lease, the tenant continues to have two powers to resist rent increases: they can refuse any rent increase upon renewal of their lease. In addition, he can contest the rent for his new home before the TAL within ten days of signing the lease.
For owners, the proposed change is welcome. The current rules allow the tenant who benefits from a cheap rent to sell the lease to a third party and monopolize part of the future income of the housing in the place of the owner.
“In 2021, 10% of landlords were impacted by a lease assignment. Today we are at 33%. We see an upward trend,” says CORPIQ’s Mr. Plante.
The current regime that facilitates the transfer of a lease also constrains the management power of the owner-manager. “In a context where there is no housing available, a lease assignment becomes a lost opportunity to renovate the housing,” Mr. Plante says.
“As a non-profit manager with a social mission, we want to be able to select our tenants to favor those with greater needs, says Laurent Levesque, CEO and co-founder of the Work Unit for the Implementation of Student Housing (UTILE) . In Bill 31, it is proposed that the government set up a special regime for non-profit student housing [in particular to avoid the provisions on the transfer of leases and thus be able to select its tenants], specifies-t -he.
Dwellings less than five years old are not subject to the TAL’s authority to set rent. The bill maintains the grace period, but will require the landlord to communicate to the tenant the maximum expected increase during the period.
The purpose of clause F is to cover costs that the promoter did not know when he developed his project. Removing this flexibility could complicate the financing of the construction of new units.
“There is always a slight risk of load adjustments following new construction, agrees Laurent Levesque of UTILE. It’s not bad to leave some window [to adjustments]. There is a question of compromise. We were in favor of a reduction in the duration. We are also comfortable with the proposal that is on the table, ”he says.
“It’s more transparency. It is a better option to keep it at 5 years than to reduce the period to 3 years”, adds Mr. Plante of CORPIQ.