MONTREAL -- Tenants' rights advocates are calling on Quebec to put a cap on massive rent increases caused by the current Montreal residential housing crisis.

Members of the group RCLALQ marched to the Regie de Logement in Longueuil Tuesday to makes their demands clear to Housing Minister Andree Laforest.

RCLALQ says some landlords are jacking rent by up to six per cent, knowing that residential vacancy rates in some areas of Montreal are as low as 0.5 per cent. RCLALQ wants to see a maximum yearly rent increase, similar to what Ontario has.

"Landlords cannot increase more than 2 per cent for this year for example. If the landlord wants to increase more than that, they need to ask the tribunal, and they will fix the rent. In Quebec, it doesn't work like that; it's kind of a free for all," said RCLALQ spokesperson Maxime Roy-Allard. "Many tenants cannot absorb those rent increases; otherwise they have to cut into their basic needs."

The burden of contesting rent increases is on the shoulders of tenants here in Quebec, whereas in Ontario, it's up to landlords to justify the increases, said Roy-Allard.

Hans Brouillette, spokesperson for the Real Estate Owners Corporation of Quebec, said in a recent interview that rent increases are due to many factors including taxes increases, maintenance, renovations, insurance premiums and management. He added that the cost of becoming a landlord has also gone up with the recent boom in Montreal’s real estate market.