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MONTREAL -- The Régie du logement du Québec is simply "irresponsible" by maintaining eviction hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of tenants said Sunday.
This decision announced Saturday is "nonsense," according to the Regroupement des committees logement et associations de tenantes du Québec (RCLALQ).
The organization wonders in particular what will happen if tenants who are forced to go into quarantine find themselves without accommodation.
The group called on the Minister responsible for Housing Andrée Laforest to "take emergency measures" to suspend all eviction hearings at the Régie du logement. In addition, the group believes that recently pronounced judgments should not be enforced.
The minister must "send a clear message that people do not have to worry about paying the rent and that they can respect the quarantine measures requested by public security," said Marjolaine Deneault of the RCLALQ.
She recalled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Friday press conference where he said that "no one should have to worry about paying the rent" because of COVID-19.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Deneault acknowledged that the Régie du logement is an independent tribunal, but said that she considered that the "exceptional situation" requires that the minister "call the Régie du logement to order."
According to Deneault, the Régie's decision proves once again, and blatantly, the Régie du logement's "bias" towards landlords and owners.
Although they say they disagree with a moratorium on eviction hearings and the enforcement of judgments, property owners are proposing instead that the government set up a temporary compensation mechanism.
"It would make no sense for tenants to lose their homes for non-payment of rent due to job loss or lack of income due to a pandemic-related situation," said Hans Brouillette, a spokesperson for the Corporation of Quebec Real Estate Owners (CORPIQ).
As a result, "there absolutely must be help," he decided. And it must be government aid because "there is no reason why the owner should finance it."
Brouillette suggested that a mechanism be provided to trigger the transmission of information that the foreclosure is linked to financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus so that an assistance program is put in place allowing the tenant to assume the rents before his eviction.
The Régie du logement did not respond to our interview request at the time of publication, while the minister's office told The Canadian Press to refer to Premier François Legault at his daily press conference.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 15, 2020.