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Board recommends another rent increase

by Archives February 3, 2009

Rent prices in Quebec will be going up once more this year.
Based on the Régie du logement’s suggested figures, rent should increase by 0.6 per cent for apartments where heating is not included in the rent, 0.8 per cent for those who heat with electricity, 1.8 per cent for those who heat with gas, and 5.1 per cent for oil-heated dwellings. The percentages are also subject to increase if municipal and school taxes have gone up, or if the building is in need of renovations and repairs.
The rental board stresses the fact that the percentages are not set in stone, and that they are merely there to help facilitate discussion about rent prices between landlords and tenants.
While the thought of having their rent increased may send most students into a panic according to Jonathan Elston, the off campus job and housing co-ordinator at Concordia University, the key thing to do is to stay calm, and to know your legal rights as a tenant.
“Students need to know they have 30 days to formally refuse a rent increase,” said Elston. “We get a lot of landlords taking advantage of student tenants, and often students come to us too late and we can’t do anything. The deadline is very important.”
For Elston, the Régie’s guidelines are a useful tool for student tenants.
“Now that we have the guidelines, students can estimate how much their increase should be based on the recommendations. They should then use that as a guide after they’ve refused the increase officially,” said Elston.
Furthermore, Elston urges students to go see someone at HOJO, before signing a new lease, or responding to a landlord’s notice to modify their lease.
France Emond, spokesperson from the tenants rights group, Regroupement Des Comites Logement Et Associations De Locataires Du Quebec (RCLALQ), agrees with Elston that students should contact their local housing committee before making important decisions pertaining to their lease.
While Emond said his group doesn’t disagree with the rental boards’ 2009 recommended increases, there are certain changes he said the Régie should make.
“Oil increased by 5.1 per cent this year, but if oil isn’t as expensive next year, the tenant will still have to pay. If oil goes down, there should be a decrease in rent, but that won’t be the case,” said Emond.
The RCLALQ also finds it unfair that only landlords have the right to go to the Régie in the case of a dispute with a tenant.
“If you do repairs on your own apartment, and you think you should get a decrease in your rent, you can’t go to the rental board and ask them for one,” said Emond.
Meanwhile, Quebec’s largest landlords’ group, Corporation des propriétaires immobiliers du Québec (CORPIQ), said the province’s suggested figures are too low.
“The rent increases allowed by the Régie makes it impossible to maintain net incomes of apartments, because the general inflation rate is higher,” said Hans Brouillette, CORPIQ’s head of communications. “Rent increases should reflect the general inflation rate of 2.1 per cent,” he said.
According to Brouillette, 35 per cent of Quebec apartments need serious repairs, but if the price of rent doesn’t go up, the repairs won’t get done. At the moment the Régie allows landlords to ask $3.58 from their tenants for every $1,000 spent on repairs and renovations, a sum CORPIQ deems extremely insufficient.
“The problem isn’t just the Régie. It’s the government that has a policy of controlling rent in Quebec, so tenants pay less and so they don’t have to provide financial help to low income earners,” said Brouillette.
To see CORPIQ’s rent increase calculations go to www.corpiq.com.

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