Rent price explosion continues to accelerate in Quebec, regions more affected

Rental prices continue to soar in Quebec, and regions outside of major urban centres appear to be more affected, according to data compiled by the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec (RCLALQ).

For a third consecutive year, RCLALQ analyzed tens of thousands of ads for rental units on the Kijiji website. According to the organization, in 2022, a rental unit is 49 per cent more expensive than the average rent established by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This rate was, on average, 31 per cent more expensive in 2020, and 41 per cent in 2021.

CMHC's Rental Market Report discloses the average rent for Canadian cities with populations of 10,000 or more each year. The methodology used consists of contacting landlords to obtain information on the units they own, including the rent price of all their units or whether they are occupied or not.

The RCLALQ believes that since the calculation includes the rents of tenants who have not moved in several years, it does not take into account the increase in rental prices for units that are available on the market. According to the organization, tenants in Quebec who have recently moved pay on average $427 more per month than tenants who have stayed in the same home for several years.

"What we want to show is that when a tenant finds himself in search of housing, it is not true that he will pay an average price as announced by the CMHC; he will have to pay more," said RCLAQ spokesperson Marjolaine Deneault.

According to the organization's data, the dwellings to be rented are on average 9 per cent more expensive in 2022 than in 2021, around 1,300$ on average. The highest increase affects the "studio" category, an increase of 19 per cent, which establishes the price of the rent at $951.

DEFICIENT REGULATION

Deneault said that public housing policies are biased since they are based on the data of the CMHC.

"There are a lot of rent increases that happen when tenants change. That's why for rent units are much more expensive than average rents," she says.

There are rules to follow to ensure some rent control. In particular, landlords must disclose the prices paid by former tenants.

"Really, the disclosed price is either not disclosed, or the price is wrong. And there are no tools for the tenant to check," said Denault

She said the onus is on the tenant in Quebec to refuse the increase. It is up to them to investigate whether the increase or the rent paid by the former person is reasonable.

There is rent control with the Tribunal Administratif du Logement (TAL). However, the TAL's rent setting mechanism is very underutilized, with 7,200 rent setting cases handled at the TAL in 2020-2021, of which only 275 were brought by tenants, the RCLAQ said.

Deneault points out that even landlords are not always aware of housing regulations.

"Especially with the pandemic, there have been many new landlords," she said. "There are people who have gone into the real estate business without necessarily knowing the full legislative framework surrounding housing. They see housing as a way to secure a retirement or get a little extra money, but there's a legal environment that you have to know about, and there's nothing that requires them to know those laws."

REGIONS MORE AFFECTED

Contrary to previous years, the province's major urban centres (Montreal and Quebec City) do not account for the most significant increases.

"More significant increases are notably observed in the suburbs of the great metropolitan area as well as in several cities of intermediate size," the RCLALQ said.

Rents on the North Shore of Montreal are on average 20 per cent more expensive this year than they were last year. The price of rents, all types combined, now stands at $1,400.

The city of Granby is the most affected, according to the data, where a 54.5 per cent increase was reported in the cost of rental units between 2021 and 2022 to reach an average of $1,213, all unit sizes combined.

The RCLAQ is asking the Quebec government to establish a rent registry and that it is the landlord who must demonstrate that the rent increase is justified.

The organization also hopes for better funding for housing committees so that they can better fulfill their mission of informing people about their housing rights.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 26, 2022. 

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