Tenants fighting eviction in CDN-NDG
Some tenants in Cote-des-Neiges say they're unfairly being forced out of their homes.
The building's owner has issued eviction notices, but the residents have taken their case to the rental board.
Mike Lafortune first moved into his apartment on Bouchette St. when he was 10 years old; his father signed the first lease in 1974.
"It's like my home. My sons were born there. My parents passed away there. My life is in that place," said Lafortune.
When his father died in 1999 at age 79, Lafortune expected to follow in his parents footsteps and spend the rest of his days in the apartment.
“My parents died here. Maybe I was going to die here too,” he said.
A few weeks ago, Lafortune received an eviction notice from the building's owner.
The company wants to enlarge his apartment and rent it to someone new.
Lafortune suspects it's because he's been here so long. His rent for the 4 ½ apartment is $635 per month – below market value.
“I've paid my rent on time, my bills, I've never had anyone run me down for a bill,” said Lafortune. "Now if I have to move I have to pay more rent."
Nine tenants from buildings along Bouchette St. received similar notices. Local housing group Oeil Cote-Des-Neiges believe it’s a first in the area.
“We've seen individual evictions, but the first time in the same building. It's the first time we've seen something like that,” said Annie Lapalme of Oeil Cote-Des-Neiges.
The head of the company that owns the building refutes the claim that tenants were selected because of their rent.
He wouldn't comment further because the case has yet to be heard by the rental board. He referred us to their lawyer, who has not yet returned CTV’s call.
Lapalme provided CTV with a letter received by a former resident in the same apartment block dated June 19. It states, ‘by enlarging the apartment, we can rent easier, obtain long-term good tenants and obtain market price rent.’
The tenants' rights' group RCLALQ doesn't necessarily believe that argument, saying it believes landlords are trying to take advantage of an improving economy.
The group said it's found that new owners are the most likely to attempt to evict tenants, which is the case for Lafortune: his building's owner purchased the structure in 2015.
RCLALQ is calling for changes to law such that landlords who evict long-term tenants have to pay them a sum equivalent to one year's average rent in the neighbourhood, plus moving costs
Lapalme said the evictions are an early sign of gentrification.
“In Cote-des-Neiges, we were outside this phenomenon until recently. If you look in the north of the borough, there are new condo towers,” she said.
Some neighbours said they are afraid they'll be next.
“Even though I haven't received a notice, I have been threatened with eviction because my rent is relatively low,” said tenant Paul Kaoler. “I was expecting that to happen sooner or later.”
The rental board declined CTV’s request for an interview, but a judge will soon decide if the evictions can proceed.
Lafortune said he will continue to fight, as he worries the place he's called home for 43 years will soon disappear.
“Everything's going to be gone, washed away like somebody threw it overboard,” he said.