Housing is a vital necessity. You need housing. Your children need housing. Access to suitable housing is recognized by the UN as a fundamental right. However, in our current economic system, your dwelling is nothing more than a market commodity, under an objective to maximize profit. Our deregulated rental market allows for real estate speculation, evictions, companies such as AirBnB, etc. Real estate profiteering has been increasing our rent and municipal taxes, and it has reduced the number of affordable housing units. Speculation also means trouble for small real estate owners, while banks and real estate agents extract more profits from it.
Bowing to real estate moguls? No one will deny that some landlords are indulgent, responsible, even generous. But what is the purpose of large-scale corporate landowners? How do they contribute to society? Because they own financial capital, they monopolize private properties with which – as the law allows – they wring out profits from working people.
Many will have us believe that large landowners are necessary for the management of housing units, but these administrative tasks are usually delegated to wage workers (custodians, plumbers, electricians, etc). They will have us believe they are the providers of our dwellings – these buildings made from the hands of the working class – when they only restrict our access to housing.
They will have us believe, finally, that these social relations with respect to housing are a natural part of our society, that these relations are human nature, when they are in fact specific to a very recent period of history.
Renters are forced to live in ever expensive, ever small, ever far lodgings, to avoid sleeping in the rain. What can we do to stop our neighborhoods from being overtaken by luxury condos? What can we do to avoid having to choose between paying for rent or paying for food?
The political elite that sits in Québec, Montréal or Verdun will always cower under the pressure of large-scale landowners and real estate developers. Only by organizing ourselves can we build a political force strong enough to push our own political program . Let us work together to establish neighborhoods that satisfy the needs of the people who live there.
Table of contents
- Resistance tactics against rent hikes
- Get involved
- Pamphlets to print and distribute
Resistance tactics against rent hikes
For many years now, rent has increased disproportionately compared to wages. The current health crisis has worsened this trend. By adopting certain tactics, you could not only save money, but participate in the collective effort to put a stop to the phenomenon of increasing rents. Do it for yourself. Do it for your community.
A) Your landlord wants to increase the rent?
You can challenge the rent hike. That’s your right.
Every year, the TAL (Tribunal administratif du logement, the administrative housing tribunal, formerly the Régie du logement) publishes recommendations for rent increases, based on a building’s revenues and costs. For 2021, the TAL recommends rent hike percentages that are exceptionally low: between -3.0% and 0.8% (estimated basic increase), before accounting for municipal tax increases, and major in-unit renovation work ($1,92 per $1000).
Here is the estimated average basic rent increase recommended by the TAL for each heating method :
- Non-heated unit: 0.8%
- Heated dwelling by electricity: 0.5%
- Heated dwelling by gas: -0.3%
- Heated dwelling by oil: -3.0%
Considering municipal taxes on the island of Montréal have remained stable this past year, and in some cases have dropped, it is possible your rent should decrease according to official recommendations.
Let us consider three examples. In each case, consider a non-heated unit at $1000/month. Depending on the variables, the landlord could ask for a rent increase of about:
|Current rent (non-heated)||Estimated average basic increase||Correction after municipal & school taxes variation||Investments in major renovation||Maximal recommended rent increase (estimated)|
|1000$/mo||+8$/mo (0.8%)||-5% variation = -8$/mo||0$ in major work = 0$/mo||0$/mo (0%)|
|1000$/mo||+8$/mo (0.8%)||0% variation = 0$/mo||500$ in major work = +0.96$/mo||+9$/mo (0.9%)|
|1000$/mo||+8$/mo (0.8%)||+5% variation = +8$/mo||2000$ in major work = +3.84$/mo||+20$/mo (2%)|
For a heated unit, this percentage would be lower, perhaps even negative (especially if heated by gas or oil). Of course, those numbers are only indicative : the calculation for the rent increase takes into account the entirety of the property’s expenses and income. The Coeur de l’île collective has developed a rent increase estimate calculator.
If you believe that the rent hike your landlord is asking for is higher than the TAL’s recommendations (your local housing committee can help you make that determination), decline it.
- To do this, send a written notice to your landlord, by registered mail, to announce that you want to renew the lease but that you decline the proposed rent increase.
- This notice must be sent within one month after you receive your rent increase notice.
- The landlord will have to reply within 30 days. If the landlord wants to negotiate, demand a written agreement. If not, the landlord will ask the TAL to determine the rent based on the official recommendations.
- If the lessor’s response does not reach you in the prescribed time limit, your lease is renewed in the same conditions as before.
WARNING. The law prohibits the landlord from evicting you if you refuse a rent hike. However, if the building was built in the last five years, the lessor can ask for the increase of their choice (article 1955 of the Civil Code). The lease must mention this restriction in Annex F, or else the lessor cannot invoke it against the tenant.
B) You are moving?
Unfortunately, the most abusive rent hikes usually happen with a change of tenants, landlords using the fact that there is no rent registry to discreetly impose increases sometimes 10 to 20 times higher than official recommendations. Indeed, renters, and more so real estate speculators, make use of different strategies (malicious evictions, fraudulent repossessions, major but non-essential work) to force out long-time tenants. An investigation by the Petite Patrie housing committee shows that, between 2015 and 2020, 85% of repossessions and evictions in that neighborhood were fraudulent.
There is a solution: cooperation amongst ourselves. To fight rent increases, we must show solidarity with the future tenants.
- Transfer your lease. Transferring your lease is not a sublet. You can transfer the rental conditions to the new renters, so that the landlord cannot game the system.
- Leave traces. “Forget” your lease in a drawer or drop it in the mailbox a week or two after you move out. By letting the next tenants know the rent you paid, they could ask the TAL to intervene and set the rent within the recommended limits (see the next section).
- You can also add your current rent on monloyer.quebec. However, this information cannot be used in court as legal proof for the next tenants.
C) You just moved, and discovered you were subjected to an abusive rent increase?
You may not be powerless. By article 1896 of the Québec Civil Code, the lessor is obligated to indicate the lowest rent paid in the last year in section G of the lease. If this section was omitted, or the rent amount indicated is wrong, the rent hike is considered fraudulent. In this situation, you may challenge the rent increase with the TAL, and they will set the increase depending on the building’s revenues and expenditures. From 2012 to 2020, rent hikes set by the TAL were on average 3.1%.
Steps to follow for challenging an abusive rent increase:
- Fill out the application to modify the lease and send it to the TAL within two months after the start of the lease. Unfortunately, this form requires you pay a fee of $79. Even though paying this fee should be worth it for you in the end, we need to recognize this as a dissuasive measure of the TAL, that favors landlords.
- Select “1950LF” as the “recourse code”.
- In the section “object of the application”, indicate the date of start of the leae and check the box for “based on the criteria for fixing the rent”.
- In the section “grounds for the application”, select “other” and describe your situation. You may mention article 1896 of the Civil Code so that your application is clear.
- Give notice to your landlord. The TAL will acknowledge receipt of your application and will give you a new copy of it. You will have to print it, have your landlord sign it, and send it back to the TAL within 45 days.
- The lessor will have to fill out the form for necessary information regarding the fixing of rent (form RN), containing all the expenditures and revenues associated with the building. The form, once filled out, will be sent to you as well.
- With this information, you will be able to use the TAL’s 2021 calculation tool for setting the rent increase. The calculated amount will be your new rent.
- After receiving form RN, the TAL will give you a hearing date with a judge. This seems intimidating, but the process is very simple. In reality, the judge will simply proceed with the same calculation you did using the provided tool, which renders the hearing almost useless. You could instead agree with your landlord on an amicable settlement to set the increase to the calculated amount. However, it could be advantageous to you to follow through with the hearing, since at the TAL, since the lessor is obligated to present their original expenditure receipts. Without this hearing, the lessor could mislead the tenant regarding their costs, in the hopes of defrauding them. If you do opt for an amicable settlement, make sure to have a written and signed agreement.
The market’s chokehold on our housing and our neighborhoods – encouraged by the political parties in power – must end.
Let’s be clear, individual actions can only slow down the rent increases. A radical change can only occur if we mobilize and organize as a political force. If you would like to fight against real estate speculators, large-scale corporate landowners and their politician friends, join Alternative Socialiste’s housing action committee in order to launch a renter’s movement!
Together, we fight for:
- An immediate rent and mortgage freeze
- A freeze on fees for essential services (electricity, internet, gas, etc.)
- A stop to evictions and renovictions
- Expropriating empty lots, abandoned buildings, and negligent landlords’s insalubrious apartments
- The renovation and construction of public, affordable housing, financed by taxing banks, web giants and large distribution companies
- Borough councillors who represent the interests of workers, not of rich people
Pamphlets to print and distribute
Black & white versions (to save ink):