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Housing crisis | QS wants to make Airbnb evictions illegal



As cases of tenants evicted by landlords who want to turn their homes into Airbnbs are increasing, Québec solidaire is asking the Legault government to prevent such practices, denouncing the eviction of 16 tenants from a building in Old Montreal intended to accommodate “hotel services”.

Sylvain Roy, 64, has lived in this building on rue Saint-Louis for more than 25 years. He received an eviction notice last December 30, three days after the purchase of the building by Iacobo Capital. Reason for eviction: change of assignment for commercial use “hotel services”, is it indicated on the notice.


Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire

A change of assignment is a reason for eviction accepted by Quebec law. “Put people out to turn this into a permanent Airbnb for tourists, it’s unfair and, in the midst of the housing crisis, it should be illegal”, denounced the parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Wednesday in conference release in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district.

Tourist accommodation must be removed as a reason for eviction provided for by law.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire

Mr. Roy and his 15 neighbors were “stunned” by the eviction notice, he said. However, some have already left the scene. “We are only three tenants to defend our rights with the Administrative Housing Tribunal. Me, I absolutely want to stay in my accommodation, ”he says, determined.

Airbnb banned

The building, which dates from 1886, has 12 doors that face the street. Its façade cannot be modified and it cannot be enlarged, due to its heritage status. Sylvain Roy is therefore surprised that the owner is thinking of setting up a hotel there, since it would be impossible to set up a reception there.

Will the accommodations be rented out on Airbnb on a short-term basis instead? However, the “tourist residence” use is not authorized at this location by the Ville-Marie borough.

The president of Iacobo Capital, Steven Iacobo, is also president of the numbered company which owns the Champ-de-Mars hotel, which adjoins the building on rue Saint-Louis where Sylvain Roy lives. The hotel no longer has a reception, but 19 of its rooms are rented out on Airbnb, between $38 and $104 per night, despite the fact that this use is not permitted by the borough’s urban planning regulations.

In Ville-Marie, “tourist residences” are only permitted on rue Sainte-Catherine, between rue Saint-Mathieu and rue Atateken. However, there are more than 1,000 apartments for rent in Old Montreal on the Airbnb site.

It was impossible to reach Steven Iacobo on Wednesday to find out his intentions, despite messages left with companies where he is a partner.

The municipal councilor for this sector, Robert Beaudry, said he is following this file closely. “The owner’s request is currently being analyzed by the planning, urban planning and mobility department,” he indicated, in a written response, adding that “the administration continues to deploy major efforts to protect tenants and the units used to house the population.

“Dazzling increase” in evictions

According to Annie Lapalme, community organizer at Entraide Logement and the Comité BAILS Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, there has been a “metarous increase” in evictions in Montreal in recent years. “With Airbnb, new owners can make the equivalent of a month’s rent in three or four days,” she observes. Evictions are often done in an aggressive and intimidating way, in complete violation of tenants’ rights. These evictions are incredibly violent. The government must stop protecting investors. »

In recent weeks, the case of Jean-François Raymond and his neighbor, tenants evicted from a newly sold building in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve which will be transformed into Airbnb, has raised indignation.1.

Mr. Raymond participated in the Quebec solidaire press conference on Wednesday to denounce the eviction of which he is the victim, after having lived 22 years in his accommodation, even if he has little chance of winning his case before the Administrative Housing Tribunal , he acknowledges.

It comes to destroy lives to get kicked out of a home, to be treated like trash. We live in frightening stressful situations. The government is letting shameless speculators do the math to see that they can make a money pass.

The tenant Jean-François Raymond

Québec solidaire argues that the province has lost 116,000 affordable housing units, including 90,000 in Montreal, over the past five years, according to a study by McMaster University published on February 22. Although these losses are not all attributable to the conversion into tourist accommodation, this is seriously aggravating the current housing crisis, points out Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

As a logical and inevitable consequence, the housing shortage means that tenants in more modest neighborhoods like Hochelaga-Maisonneuve are no longer able to relocate to comparable apartments without having to pay much more. However, many households are located in these neighborhoods precisely because of their limited means and occupy the same dwelling for years in order to protect themselves from disproportionate rent increases that are often imposed by landlords when there is a change of tenant.

With The Canadian Press

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