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Montreal vows to ramp up rental inspections under new 'Responsible Landlord' program

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The City of Montreal is promising to carry out more inspections of rental housing units to identify unsafe and unsanitary conditions in residential buildings under a new 'Responsible Landlord' program.

As affordable rental units become harder to find in Montreal, some tenants may find themselves stuck in unhealthy living conditions.

"Every time we hear a story about someone or a family being stuck in a non-sanitary apartment it breaks our heart. Like for us, it's terrible," Mayor Valerie Plante said Wednesday as she announced the new program.

The city says it hopes to change that. The new initiative targets building owners who aren't pulling their weight. Inspectors from the city's housing department and the boroughs are starting with buildings with more than 100 units.

Executive committee vice-chair Benoit Dorais says where there are clear problems inspectors will do a blitz inspection of the entire building.

"All together we will inspect 10,000 apartments in 2024," Dorais said.

Inspectors will outline problems that need to be fixed, from unsafe balconies to toxic mould and even pest infestations. Owners who don't comply can face hefty fines of between $500 and $10,000 dollars.

"We can give them fines and contact their financial institution if they don't follow up with the grid and the different things we said they should do," Plante added.

That means lenders and insurers may be alerted when buildings are in poor condition.

The city says it has added two more inspectors for a total of 18 but the opposition says that's not enough to meet the demand.

"When we take a look at the numbers with the inspectors that we have right now at the City of Montreal, it would take 60 years only to inspect the outside of the building of six units and more within the City of Montreal. So clearly there is a problem," said Julien Henault-Ratelle, the City Hall opposition housing critic.

The city says the program will also mean they'll have data on rental units in the city.

"And some of the landlords that we're keeping our eyes on," Plante said, though she adds the vast majority of building owners are doing a good job.

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