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Lease transfers are essential, say housing advocates ahead of Quebec's new bill

Groups representing tenants and low-income earners are once again calling on the minister responsible for housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, to continue to allow tenants to assign their leases as the study of the housing bill gets underway in Quebec.

The groups argue that lease assignment is one of the few measures left to tenants to keep rents affordable.

"If they lose this possibility, more people will be unable to find housing or to find affordable housing, and there will be more discrimination against certain categories of tenants," said Cédric Dussault, spokesperson for the Regroupement des comités logements et associations de locataires (RCLALQ), at a news conference in Montreal on Wednesday.

"Lease transfers are not an infringement of property rights since landlords do not have the right to discriminate or the right to circumvent the right to remain on the premises in order to evict tenants or impose abusive rent increases," said Dussault.

These groups say given current housing shortages, there's an imbalance that favours landlords. The minister must, therefore, support tenants by protecting them against eviction and excessive rent increases and by continuing to allow them to transfer their lease to another person.

"Quebec tenants are currently experiencing a very serious housing crisis. On September 1, to give an idea of the most dramatic consequences of this crisis, more than 350 tenant households were still without housing and were being assisted by a housing search service in Quebec", said FRAPRU (Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain) spokesperson Véronique Laflamme.

To help tenants, the groups are also calling for the introduction of a free, public rent register and a cap on annual rent increases based on indexes published by the Rental Administration Tribunal.

Demonstrations in support of the cause are planned for Saturday in Quebec City, Montreal, Rouyn-Noranda, Sherbrooke and Rimouski.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 13, 2023. 

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