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Lease swaps becoming more common in Quebec as rents rise

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Adam Reider's apartment listing on Facebook Marketplace looks like any other, except for one important detail.

The description reads, "You MUST have an apartment to exchange leases."

Reider is not interested in giving up his "amazing" apartment, that costs $960 per month and includes 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, for anything but a lease transfer.

"Ideally, what would happen is we find someone that would transfer their lease to us, and we would transfer our lease to them," said Reider. "We could kind of leverage our cheap apartments with each other, and we'd both come out kind of happy in the end."

Reider's lived in the NDG apartment for 13 years.

While he is in no rush to leave, he is looking for a bigger place nearby, for under $2,000.

He says he gets dozens of messages every day, including offers to buy his lease, but Reider won't compromise his family's main needs.

"If lease transfers weren't a thing, I don't think we'd be able to really afford to move right now," he told CTV News.

RENTS RISING

According to Rentals.ca, Quebec rents continue to go up.

The average price for a 3-bedroom apartment is $2,406.

The housing advocacy group FRAPRU's community organizer Catherine Lussier says lease transfers are not a new phenomenon. It's one of the last ways to avoid a rent increase.

"It's being used because of the lack of regulation to reduce the rent increase from apartments," she said. "At the moment you pass your obligation, it's also the price of the rent you're passing."

Landlords can only refuse the lease transfer if there is "a serious reason."

The province wants to change that.

Under the proposed Bill 31, landlords would be able to stop tenants. Quebec's Landlord Association president Martin Messier said the group is in favour of the government's proposal.

"We think that now the landlord should have the right to tell the tenant, 'if you want to get out of the lease, it's fine, so well terminate the lease, but I will take care of renting the unit,'" said Messier.

However, tenants and housing advocates say this is not a proper solution. Given that lease transfers protect tenants during a housing crisis, many who would not be able to afford a rent increase.

Bill 31 consultations are expected to take place in the coming weeks. 

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