MONTREAL -- A bookstore owner says he’s on the verge of closing after 40 years in Montreal’s Mile End neighborhood.

Stephen Welch is the owner of SW Books. Like other retailers, he had to close up shop when the province entered lockdown. It was a challenging time, but he says the worst was yet to come.

According to Welch, when he reopened, his landlord hiked up his monthly rent 150 per cent.

It’s not the first time Shiller Lavy, the owner of the building, has hiked up costs, says Welch. Two years ago, the company push up his rent 70 per cent, he says.

“It would be very hard to make that rent to begin with,” Welch told CTV News. “And you know every penny would be going to the owner of the building which makes no sense whatsoever.”

Just down the street, a bakery went through the same ordeal, according to the owner, who says Shiller Lavy tripled his rent over three years. He says he had to close up shop and relocate to St. Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Shiller Levy did not respond to CTV News’s request for comment.

Borough Councillor Marie Plourde says the problem is there's no rent control for commercial spaces.

“There are so many stores that have disappeared this way,” she said.

She says the city is speaking to the province with hopes for the law to change.

She says she wants “to give some tools to the business owners to have some leverage with the owners."

“It can't be like the jungle and who's the strongest will survive, especially in … a pandemic.”