MONTREAL -- The city of Montreal will help affordable apartment buildings in need of repair with their renovation costs.

To qualify, buildings need to have six or more units and have fewer than six floors. They must also be "affordable." What that means, according to the city's requirements, is that the building's rent price is 5 per cent lower than the median rent for similar buildings in a borough.

For those buildings that qualify, Montreal will pay between 30 and 40 per cent of renovation costs -- up to $14,000 per unit, $500,000 per building. The program comes into effect on April 1.

The funds will help modernize affordable housing by helping landlords replace oil heating systems with electric ones, decontaminate moldy fixtures and pay extermination costs, among other things.

Following the city's announcement, the Consolidation of housing committees and tenant associations in Quebec, a tenants-rights group, questioned why public money would go into landlords' pockets. The renovation funds won't do much to stop rent increases, the group added.

The city, though, said it would be able to inform a tenant of the amount of work done and what kind of subsidy the landlord received.

"There's going to be a follow-up with the landlord during three years to really check. He's going to have to give us information, the lease of the tenant and if he abuses or there's a situation that's not correct," Robert Beaudry, member of Montreal's executive committee, said.

Provincial political party Quebec Solidaire has asked for an emergency law banning renovictions when the vacancy rate is below 3 per cent. Renovictions happen when a landlord evicts tenants to renovate. In many cases, what follows is an increase in rent.