Housing advocates in the Plateau and members of Quebec Solidaire are calling on the provincial government to put an end to a practice they say landlords use to take advantage of tenants.

“Renovictions,” or evictions initiated by landlords in order to renovate and then rent out their units at a higher rate. With rental vacancy rates at record lows in Montreal, QS MNA Ruba Ghazal said the practice has become increasingly common.

“They use these pretexts to put out the tenants and to double and triple their rate,” she said. “We call it renoviction because their goal is not to renovate, their goal is to make more and more and more money to put those tenants out of their apartments.”

Eric Beaulieu said he and his partner’s landlord was eager to renovate the building they were living in on Drolet. After months of construction, the couple said they took a settlement rather than fight to stay.

“We were 14 people in our building and we were only two apartments left,” he said. “A lot of people were leaving because they just didn’t know what to do with the situation.”

Ghazal said urgent action is needed lest Montreal’s rental market start to resemble that of Toronto or Vancouver. Quebec Solidaire has called on the Coalition Avenir Quebec government to put a moratorium on evictions that are due to expansion, subdivision or change of ownership in neighbourhoods with vacancy rates of three per cent or less.

The party has also called for an emergency committee to help people find housing and change the civil code to make the law regarding eviction more friendly to tenants.

“What we want is to have communities, we want social mixing, we want real life in our communities,” said Ghazal. “We don’t want only Airbnbs.”