Hundreds of Cote-des-Neiges tenants said they were threatened with eviction; owners claim was misunderstanding
MONTREAL -- Dozens of families living in a Cote-des-Neiges apartment building, many of them immigrants, say they were told they could be facing eviction, but the building's management says it was all just a misunderstanding.
In January, Danessa Rullota received a letter from Cogir Real Estate, offering her $6,000 to move into a renovated apartment in the same building, where her rent would have doubled. Alternatively, she was told she could take $3,500 to terminate her lease and leave.
“It's very stressful,” she said.
The same letter was sent to more than 300 units in the building. Rullota declined both offers and said the management company then notified her they were taking her to court for unpaid rent. Rullota said she and her husband had no proof as they typically paid in cash.
“It's very scary for me and my husband, especially because we have a child.”
Cogir spokesperson Brigitte Pouliot said the notice was actually a mistake and should have included a third option where residents could stay in their current units and continue under their current lease.
“Option one was not written because there was no money involved,” she said. “It only listed option two and three.”
Many of the tenants, such as Rullota, come from the Philippines. City councillor Marvin Rotrand said community groups have stepped to work with them.
“We're working with lawyers, we're going to fight every single eviction,” he said.
Other tenants simply received eviction notices. Zaneida Alvarez said she received one after forgetting to include a $23 annual rent increase when she paid her rent.
Margaret Van Nooten of tenants rights advocacy group Project Genesis said such situations involve landlords looking for a reason to evict a tenant.
“Your name is blemished forever when it comes to showing up at the rental board,” she said. “You could have new problems when it comes to finding a new dwelling.”
Pouliot said the company had committed no wrong doing.
“When we bring someone to (the regie) it's only because they're not paying their rent as agreed. It's our responsibility as a real estate company. The tenant has agreed to pay their rent. That's the only reason to bring somebody there,” she said.