The town of Hampstead has passed a draft amendment to a bylaw which they say will better protect tenants.
Before landlords can get a permit from the town to do work that would require tenants to move, the property owner must have the tenant’s agreement to move in writing.
According to Hampstead mayor Jeremy Levi, the impetus for the change came a week ago when a resident contacted the town for help.
“They basically said ‘my landlord is trying to kick me out and I’ve been living here 35 years, he claims there’s gonna be major renovations’,” Levi told Global News from his office.
Levi said when the town examined the permit application, the owner said the unit was empty and that work was to be done on a closet.
“So as soon as we found out, we cancelled the permit,” Levi said.
The mayor stressed that the draft is an amendment to an existing permits and certificates bylaw and not a new law.
He added that it enforces an existing provincial law, which states that a tenant must agree to leave the premises while work is being done.
He pointed out that if a tenant refuses and the landlord takes the case to the housing tribunal and wins, the town will abide by the ruling.
Real estate lawyer Christina Muccari agrees the new draft bylaw amendment adds an extra layer of protection for tenants.
“It makes sure, for example, that a tenant who did not consent to the work being carried out, would not be kicked out of their home because the landlord would have lied to the city in order to try to obtain a permit,” she explained.
The lawyer believes it can help stop a matter from going to a court system that’s already clogged.
“It forces the landlords and the tenants to address the issue before addressing the matter to the courts,” Muccari pointed out.
Tenants who voted against the demolition of apartment buildings on Côte-St-Luc Rd in 2019 believe the draft bylaw gives tenants hope and more control.
Some like Eland Hersh are relieved and hope the move will serve as an example to other municipalities.
“It provides a level of comfort and my hope is that it will take away some of the fear for a lot of people,” Hersh said.
Hampstead is hoping to have the amendment passed into law at the next council meeting, October 6th.