MONTREAL -- A community group in Montreal's Cote-des-Neiges borough says some landlords are trying to get tenants paying low rental rates to move into more expensive units. 

The warning comes following what Project Genesis describes as an unusual offer to tenants at two buildings on Bourret Ave. in Snowdon.

Tenants say they received a flyer offering two options: accept a payment of $3,500 and give up their lease, or $6,000, have their apartment renovated and sign a new lease at what -- in many cases -- amounts to almost twice their current rent.

“I have never seen a notice like this," said Margaret Van Nooten of Project Genesis. “I’ve seen many notices that I would say are outrageous, but I have never seen one like this.”

Elmer Manilla has been living in the building for the past 21, and paying less than $700 dollars a month in rent.

If he were to accept the deal, he would have to pay more than $500 extra per month. Manilla says that would make it hard for him to buy food and medicine.

“All of us here are a little bit nervous,” he said.

The company that manages the building is Cogir Real Estate. Reached by email, a spokesperson said there are in fact 3 options:

  • You stay in your current apartment.
  • You move to a renovated apartment with a promotion of $6,000 to cover the additional cost of the lease for the first year.
  • You decide to move out of the building and are given $3,500 to cover the cost of moving and other related costs.

“There was no obligation nor deadline or pressure to make a decision and all tenants were very happy to have these options offered to them,” wrote Cogir's communications director Brigitte Pouliot.

Project Genesis says that the flyer caused a lot of uneasiness among tenants.

"The tenants that have been contacting us didn’t realize they have that third option, and some of them were in a state of panic, they’ve been losing sleep,” said Van Nooten.

Project Genesis said this year more than ever, they've seen landlords trying all sorts of things to get rid of tenants paying low rents.

“We have one landlord who told tenants the building was now uninsured and that the tenants all have to leave because he couldn’t get insurance on the building anymore. When the tenants asked for proof, there wasn’t any," said Van Nooten.

She added that tenants often just leave because they don't know their rights and don't want to fight.

“I have been in touch with tenants who weren’t able to hold on, they really wanted to stay in their homes but they felt so overpowered,” she said. “It’s just a terrible thing I feel to see somebody clearly pushed out of their home."