Renting in Montreal is more expensive than it’s been in the past few decades.
The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation is reporting that the average rent in the city has reached record levels
and housing advocates fear things might be getting worse.
Amina Saman recently had to move out of the apartment she was living in the borough of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension because it was mouldy. But it wasn’t easy to find something affordable.
“The houses are all mouldy, broken,” Saman said.
Luckily, she says she found a good place and a good landlord. But she had to take on a job at a CAPE Parc-Ex to afford her new rent. CAPE Parc-Ex helps renters in the area defend their rights. The organization says they’ve seen a significant increase in people needing help compared to last year due to rent hikes and renovictions.
That reality is in line with new numbers released by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in their annual rental market report. This year the report shows a record increase in rents in Montreal. The price for a two-bedroom apartment has gone up 7,9 per cent. It’s the largest increase in the last 30 years.
The vacancy rate also went down in 2023, sitting at 1,5 per cent compared to the previous year, which was 2 per cent. It’s something officials at the city of Montreal are worried about.
“That’s why at the city of Montreal we want to accelerate permits for construction,” said Benoit Dorais, Montreal Executive Committee’s vice-president.
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The Coalition of Housing Committees and Tenants Associations of Quebec (RCLAQ) says a low vacancy rate limits people’s options, often pushing them into situations where they become unable to afford rent.
“There is no sign that it will stop at some point,” said Cédric Dussault, a spokesperson for RCLAQ.
For years, they’ve asked the government for better measures such as rent control.
“That means, in part, a real rent registry throughout Quebec that will be mandatory,” said Dussault.
Quebec is set to pass its controversial Bill 31, but it doesn’t include a rent registry. The bill worries advocates like Dussault. “It probably will impact negatively the situation,” he said.
A spokesperson for Quebec’s housing ministry said the report outlines what they’ve already observed.
“A housing crisis that affects many Quebecers,” wrote Justine Vézina, a press attachée for Quebec’s housing minister France-Élaine Duranceau. “What’s worrisome in this report is to see the impact that the arrival of asylum seekers is putting in the demand for housing in Montreal. We’re working very hard to increase housing but the federal government must take on its share of responsibility when it comes to asylum seekers. They must stop the flow of migrants to Montreal and should better distribute them.”
Vézina says there’s concern over rent hikes but Bill 31 will include clauses that will make those rent increases more predictable as they continue to work on adding more housing in the province.