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Apartment hunters face higher rent and older buildings

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MONTREAL — Apparently, it’s easier now than ever before for Montreal residents to find an apartment.

But the city’s rising rent and ageing buildings has made it much harder to find an apartment that’s affordable and still in good condition.

François Saillant, coordinator of the anti-poverty and social housing advocacy group Front d’Action Populaire en Réaménagement Urbain (FRAPRU) says the biggest problem with renting an apartment in Montreal is the price, especially for low income families.

“As we know, there are six families who could not find homes by July 1,” he said “It’s difficult to find big apartments. It’s especially difficult to find big apartments that are affordable for low income families.”

Saillant says FRAPRU has also been getting many complaints about the condition of the buildings from tenants who have been forced to move into these older buildings.

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He says there are two main reasons for why tenants are still being forced to live there.

Firstly, the pool of existing rentals has been hit as property owners refuse to renew their tenants’ leases, preferring instead take back their apartments.

As well as this, the construction of condos over the last few years has added dozens of new buildings to the rental market.

But condos are more expensive and don’t offer tenants the same protection from price hikes for the first five years.

Nevertheless, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp said earlier this month that the vacancy rate in Greater Montreal grew to three per cent this year, up from 2.2 per cent in 2012.

Saillant considers this to be much better than a few years ago when hundreds of families were left homeless.