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The Minister responsible for Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, expects that the adoption of her Bill 31 on housing will help both owners and tenants. But how, and when ? Le Devoir tried to answer it.

Adopted by a majority on Wednesday in the National Assembly, Bill 31 “modifying various legislative provisions relating to housing” came into force on Wednesday afternoon, after its assent by the lieutenant-governor. The legislative text contains a series of measures that will quickly change landlord-tenant relationships on a daily basis.

Restriction of transfer of lease

This is undoubtedly the most controversial section of the bill. As soon as it comes into force, it will allow an owner to refuse that a tenant transfers his lease to another. If he previously had to cite a “serious reason” to say no to a transfer, the landlord will no longer need to do so. In the event of refusal, the lease will be terminated at the scheduled time of transfer.

Subletting and the transfer of a rental contract “for profit” also become prohibited. Restrictions on the transfer of lease are applicable from the sanction of the law.

Clause “G” and clause “F”

With these articles, Minister Duranceau wants to offer more transparency to tenants. Little respected by landlords, clause G of the lease contains the lowest rent paid in the last 12 months. From now on, a landlord who “knowingly fails” to register it will be liable for punitive damages.

Once the bill comes into force, the registration of clause F will also become mandatory for buildings “newly built or which have been the subject of a recent change of use”. This indicates the maximum rent that a landlord intends to charge in the next five years.

Protection against evictions

If opposition groups keep telling her that this will not be enough, the Minister responsible for Housing believes that the measures she is putting in place to protect tenants from evictions will have their impact. fruits. After the refusal by the other parties represented in the National Assembly to quickly adopt the bill in December, she maintained that “each day that passes, these are evictions that could have been avoided.”< /p>

In practice, “Law 31” will offer tenants increased compensation. Currently, a person evicted from their home is entitled to the equivalent of three months' rent and reasonable moving expenses. With the adoption of the CAQ bill, the compensation must now represent a sum equal to “one month's rent for each year of rental”, but could at most be equivalent to “24 months' rent”. The three-month minimum remains in effect.

“Bill 31” also has the effect of “reversing the burden of proof” in matters of eviction, according to Ms. Duranceau. While the tenant previously had to contest his eviction, it is now the owner who will have to justify his decision to evict him before the Administrative Housing Tribunal.

Modifications to urban planning rules

These sections of the bill do not directly affect landlord-tenant relations, but rather the powers of cities in matters of housing. In order to accelerate the construction of rental housing, the bill will allow municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants and which have a vacancy rate of less than 3% according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to authorize projects of three or more housing units on their territory without taking into account their town planning regulations.

This proposal has raised fears of “favoritism” and “corruption,” according to experts, but Minister Duranceau maintains that all safeguards have been put in place. From the entry into force of the law, a city will be able to notify the ministry of its intention to use these new powers for a period of three years. Afterwards, this period may be extended for two years, at the discretion of the minister in place. Cities like Gatineau or Longueuil will, for example, be able to use these provisions of the law.

What the bill does not contain

In the eyes of opposition groups, Bill 31 is a “missed opportunity” to counter the housing crisis. This is because Minister Duranceau rejected several of their amendments in recent months to instead add provisions to the bill.

Among these, the establishment of a national rent register, which would have indicated the last rents paid for each rental lease, and the reversal of the provisions on the transfer of lease.< /p>

Despite the grievances of Québec solidaire, which was accompanied last week by a father who is preparing to lose his home, located in Shawinigan, due to a renovation, the minister also said no to the establishment a moratorium on renovictions. “There is no alternative. That’s the problem,” underlined Jonathan Simard, who was preparing to be evicted from the apartment where his four young boys live. “From the moment there is no alternative, it is as if we are, in a certain way, alienating the tenant from their right to housing. »

Despite proposals from the Parti Québécois and Québec solidaire, the “Françoise David law”, which protects vulnerable seniors against evictions, has not been extended to people aged 65 and over .

What they said

The government does not claim that this bill will solve the housing crisis. That would be completely unrealistic. That said, I think it includes extremely useful tools that will allow us to tackle two pressing issues: increasing the housing supply and restoring the balance between renters and owners.

— France-Élaine Duranceau, Minister responsible for Housing

Bill 31, not only is it a poorly put together bill, but it is a missed opportunity to act more profoundly on the housing crisis. […] We did not add any protection. On the contrary, with the change in relation to the transfer of lease, we have a bill which could even worsen the crisis.

— Virginie Dufour, housing spokesperson for the Liberal Party of Quebec

Unfortunately, despite promises that it was a bill that would resolve a large number of very problematic situations in the rental sector, PL31 will fuel the housing crisis. It will add fuel to the furnace of real estate speculation which is affecting the rental sector throughout Quebec, not just in large centers.

— Andrés Fontecilla, housing spokesperson for Québec solidaire

We will be told: “Well, we have to trust municipal officials.” Yes, we must trust all public administrations, but that is no reason why public administrations no longer have any rules of the game to follow. And that's essentially what we decided to do in this case.

— Joël Arseneau, housing spokesperson for the Parti Québécois

What this law lacks most is real protections against evictions which are increasing, including evictions of elderly tenants.

— Véronique Laflamme, spokesperson for the Popular Action Front for Urban Redevelopment (FRAPRU)

Aside from the provision which will allow a veto on lease transfers, this really makes our working environment more complex.

— Éric Sansoucy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Corporation of Real Estate Owners of Quebec (CORPIQ)

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116