MONTREAL -- Evictions restarted in Montreal again today after a months-long ban, and the backlog seems to be sizeable.

The Régie du logement rental board has spread itself out across two buildings, both to accommodate social distancing and to hear as many cases as possible as quickly as possible.

“We're really worried about what's going to happen in the next few months,” says Margaret van Nooten of the nonprofit Project Genesis.

With the restart comes a renewed debate about what should be allowed in these unusual times, after countless people have lost jobs during the pandemic.

“I've spoken with many landlords who were on the verge of losing their building,” says Martin Messier, the head of the Quebec Landlords’ Association, saying it’s good news that evictions are back.

Housing advocate Amy Darwish disputes the idea that landlords are facing significant hardship. She says the bigger problem is landlords trying to evict tenants whenever possible in order to jack up the rent in a hot housing market.

“Landlords have been increasingly resorting to strategies such as repossession, evictions to change the size or use of the dwelling, harassment, and intimidation in order to force out long-term tenants and re-rent apartments at much higher rates,” said Darwish.

Rental vacancies are at a 15-year low.

Messier headed to the Régie himself on Tuesday to represent a property owner in an eviction case.

“It’s always sad to need to evict a tenant,” he said, but “in this case, it's really people that…are plain abusing the system.”

Watch Luca Caruso-Moro’s full report in the video above.