July 1, 2020
Updated July 2, 2020 at 0h22
The COVID-19 and the “rénovictions” increase and complicate the day of the move
The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — The traditional day of the move always took place in a certain chaos, while thousands of Quebecers bend simultaneously luggage and settle down in their new homes. But this year, the search for a new apartment is more difficult than ever, according to advocacy groups, tenants, because the COVID-19 exacerbates the housing crisis caused by low vacancy rates, rising rent prices and a wave of tenants ejected by owners willing to take over their housing and make a profit.
Some 1,200 households have turned to organizations across the province for help in their quest for a new place to live, which is two times more than last year, stresses Véronique Laflamme, spokesman for the FRAPRU, a group of defence of the right to housing.
Of this number, at least 322 households had not yet signed a new lease to the eve of the 1st of July.
In a telephone interview with The canadian Press, Véronique Laflamme explained that the pandemic has not only caused heavy losses of jobs, but it also led to a lot of difficulties for those who were struggling already to loop the end of the month, as the tenants who receive social assistance or who are low-income jobs.
The virus has also complicated the visits of apartments, particularly in Montréal, the region most severely affected by the virus, where the affordable apartments are scarce and where the vacancy rate stands now at 1.5 % — its lowest level in 15 years.
A recent survey by the Grouping of committees, housing and tenant associations in Quebec revealed that the prices displayed online for housing offered for rent averaged 1044 $ per month, or about 30 % more than what currently pay renters, according to figures from the canadian mortgage and housing corporation.
In Montreal, this figure was 43 % higher.
It is reluctantly that nearly half of the households called for help, were leaving their apartment, according to Véronique Laflamme, who is a growing number of people evicted for “rénovictions”. This practice consists of major renovations to then inflate the rents.
Robert Beaudry, councillor responsible for housing at the City of Montreal, explains that the metropolis is currently experiencing a housing crisis caused by a vacancy rate of less than 1 % in many neighborhoods.
The municipal authorities work together with local organizations to assist households who cannot find a new roof, in their hiring, in some cases, storage units and hotel rooms, he reports.
The City of Montreal also attacks the “rénovictions” in tightening the rules for those owners who wish to subdivide or enlarge their dwellings in central districts.
If the City does what is in its power, many responsibilities, including the construction of subsidized housing, however, points to the province, ” notes Robert Beaudry.
In response to the pandemic, the government of Quebec has stepped in with a supplement to the emergency rent for people at risk of ending up on the street, interest-free loans that can cover up to two month’s rent and a certain support to municipalities.
But the economic impact of the COVID-19 will be sustained, ” warns Veronique Laflamme, meaning that more tenants will find themselves in a difficult situation once the emergency government is exhausted, while the audiences of foreclosure will resume as early as next week to the housing authority.