Approximately one hundred protestors took to the streets outside of the Union des municipalités du Québec at 680 Sherbrooke Tuesday morning to demand provincial housing reforms. The Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec (RCLALQ) organized the protest to garner support for establishing a province-wide housing code.
“We think it would be a demand that would be easy to achieve. What we need is the political will for a new housing code,” said one protester.
According to a RCLALQ press release, there are currently 1,100 municipalities in Quebec that lack any kind of legislation pertaining to the health and maintenance of rental properties for tenants. The group recognizes that there are a number of effective housing codes in Quebec municipalities but argues that the lack of province-wide rules puts some Quebeckers at risk.
France Edmond, a representative for the RCLALQ, expressed the limitations of the current system in a written statement.
“When people live in a municipality that is lacking health regulations, the tenants’ only recourse is the Régie du logement which is already grappling with a serious problem of delays,” said the statement in French. The Régie is a special tribunal that settles disputes between tenants and landlords.
Jean-Pierre Leblanc, the Montreal spokesperson for the Régie du logement de Québec, spoke on the Régie’s role in establishing province-wide housing legislation.
“Right now we work with the municipal regulations,” Leblanc explained in French, adding that he felt that the municipal legislation in Montreal is effective.
“Even though there is no [provincial housing code] there is still the Régie du logement that will help direct tenants to the appropriate recourse for their complaints,” he said.
McGill’s Off-Campus Housing office provides advising services for student tenants. Pamela, a representative from the office who asked that her last name not be given, listed “vermin, mould, and moisture” among a number of health-related housing problems that students encounter.
The office does not keep statistics on the number of students who report health and sanitation problems in their apartments.
“We do have students in the office with this problem. Is it a lot? I wouldn’t be able to say that because there are also many students who do not report it. Either they don’t know their rights, or it’s okay for them to live in this condition,” Pamela said.
There are a number of tenants’ rights organizations in Montreal, however these groups must still go through the Régie du Logement in order to file official complaints, which can be a lengthy process.
“To go to the Régie if your problem is not serious [will take] you easily 18 months,” explained Pamela.
Pamela believes a province-wide code would streamline the health-related housing complaints process.
“I think it will be beneficial for both the tenants and the government. For the government it will [mean] less tenants filing against landlords for health problems. And for students, they will have better living conditions.”