Tenants' group calls for vigilance against rent hikes in Quebec in 2022

A group suggests that tenants carefully examine their notice of rent increase and refuse any increase deemed abusive, on Wednesday, shortly after Quebec's administrative housing tribunal unveiled its average increase estimate.

The Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec notes in a press release that the rates "are not respected by landlords from the outset" and reminds tenants that all uncontested rent increases are legal even if they are higher than the percentages indicated by the Tribunal administratif du logement.

The association is asking Quebec to "make the use of these rates mandatory" in order to curb rent increases in Quebec.

"Contrary to what the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government claims, there is no rent control in Quebec since the burden of calculating rent increases rests on the shoulders of tenants," the association adds.

According to the tribunal's calculations, the basic increase would be, for example, 1.28 per cent in 2022 for an unheated dwelling, to which could be added an amount for an increase in municipal taxes or for major work.

In an example provided by the tribunal, a rent set at $1,000 for an unheated unit with a 5 per cent increase in municipal taxes and no major renovations would increase to $1,020 in 2022.

For owner-occupied heated dwellings, the base increase rates are set at 1.34 per cent for those heated by electricity, 1.91 per cent when heated by gas and 3.73 per cent when heated by oil.

In a separate press release, the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) agrees with the group's proposals and stresses that "one can refuse a rent increase and remain in one's dwelling."

The organization believes that the pandemic and the "shortage of rental units," especially affordable ones, are likely to lead landlords to "take advantage of the situation" by asking for "abusive increases, expecting tenants to comply for fear of retaliation such as harassment or even eviction."

NOT HIGH ENOUGH, SAY LANDLORDS

For a group of landlords, the rent increases published on Wednesday by the tribunal are "not high enough when inflation has had such an impact on landlords over the past year."

The Corporation des propriétaires immobiliers du Québec (CORPIQ) believes that in the event of a dispute, a landlord could obtain a judgment allowing him or her to increase the rent by about 2 per cent, but that it could go up to 5 per cent if the increases in municipal taxes, insurance and energy costs are "more pronounced."

The association says that the base rent increase is "much lower than overall inflation," while inflation "has simply exploded."

"Materials and labour costs have caused maintenance and renovation expenses to jump by about 25 per cent this year, and that's after the first year of the pandemic that had already inflated construction costs," CORPIQ wrote. "Unfortunately, the calculation grid continues to penalize owners and discourage maintenance and renovation."

The Tribunal administratif du logement has an interactive form on its website to calculate a rent increase.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Jan. 19, 2022. 

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