(Montreal, January 17, 2023) At 1005 Rielle street, a 36 unit building in Verdun of mostly elderly tenants is being viciously renovicted. The Le Comité d’action des citoyennes et citoyens de Verdun (CACV) is aware of at least 11 of the remaining 20 tenants having received notices of eviction for substantial enlargement of their apartments. The building, which is currently up for sale, is being advertised as an “OPTIMIZATION AND RENOVATION PROJECT WITH LOTS OF POTENTIAL- Incredible optimization opportunity in the heart of Verdun- The building currently has 15 vacant apartments- The remaining rents are extremely low for the area- The current market rent values in Verdun more than justify the renovation investments“
“All that my landlords care about is money. All that they care about is profit. It’s disgusting that it is us, the tenants, who must fight to stay in our homes. Housing is a right. Where are we supposed to go and what happens to us if the government lets this happen?” says Roger Grenier, tenant who received an eviction notice on December 16th. His landlord, Randall Ettinger (president of 1005 Rielle Inc.) has been granted a municipal permit to do a “Reconfiguration intérieur“ of 32 of the building’s 36 units, and has sent eviction notices which claim that the planned work will result in a “substantial enlargement” of the apartments, despite the building presently being up for sale. The full contents of the permit have not yet been received by the CACV or tenants. “These permits should never have been issued. We are looking at a mass eviction of vulnerable people”, adds Lyn O’Donnell, community organizer at the CACV. “This same speculator mass evicted a building just down the street at 315 Rielle in 2018, full of families and elderly people. They are destroying lives and the government is doing absolutely nothing. We need an indefinite moratorium on evictions right now.” The CACV is an active member of the Regroupement des comités logement et des associations de locataires du Québec (RCLALQ) who have demanded that the province institute a moratorium on evictions and repossessions.
“This type of eviction is specifically problematic, as contrary to repossession notices, the tenant must be proactive in order to refuse the eviction, as they must open an opposition through the Tribunal Administratif du Logement (TAL) within 30 days of receiving the notice, otherwise the eviction is final” says Lyn O’Donnell “What adds to the problem is that it is increasingly hard for tenants to reach the TAL in order to exercise their right to refusal, and landlords are definitely taking advantage of this fact.”
The CACV has been receiving an overwhelming number of requests from tenants in the neighborhood reporting having received an avis d’éviction pour agrandissement substantiel and observes a common trend: tenants’ lack of access to the tribunal in their time of urgent need.
“Since December, we have received dozens of calls from panicked tenants who received this form of eviction notice who cannot make an appointment with a TAL agent by phone or through the online portal” says Michel, intervention worker at the CACV. “We try to help every tenant that we can to navigate the tribunal procedures, but with the extreme amounts of evictions happening in Verdun right now, people are falling through the cracks of the system at alarming rates’‘. If tenants are not able to exercise their rights given the strict time frame and the lack of service from the Tribunal itself, the CACV questions whether the Tribunal is fulfilling its mandate and whether such structural factors constitute a violation of tenants’ rights ?
Echoing the recent RCLALQ statement, workers of the CACV are firm in their stance. The CACV’s mandate includes providing information and popular education to empower tenants and working class people. The community sector is not a cheaper way to provide public services that are part of the TAL’s mandate. The tribunal must ensure that it fulfills its mandate to provide citizens with adequate information and efficient resources, notably within a reasonable delay.
We call all levels of government to act immediately. Beyond ensuring that the TAL fulfills its mandate, it is necessary to halt evictions, including by preventing landlords from using non-urgent renovations as a pretense to evict and profit during a crisis.