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Lease transfer website to keep rent prices
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 17 février 2011

The NDG Community Council is hoping its new project, the NDG Lease Transfer Network, will help keep landlords from dramatically hiking rents between tenants.

The website allows residents who are looking to transfer their leases to post ads.

“The idea is to have a really local strategy to keep rents low. We know that the biggest increases happen between tenants, because most tenants are fairly aware that they’re allowed to contest obvious increases,” said Leslie Bagg, a community organizer with the council.

Between tenants, many landlords will increase the rent by as much as a few hundred dollars, Bagg said. While, by law, tenants are supposed to be informed of what the rent was previously, landlords sometimes don’t tell tenants or even lie, explained Bagg. This means the new renters have to find out on their own, and contest the increase at the Régie du logement.

“Even if people do know their rights, it’s rare that a new tenant is going to want their first interaction with their new landlord to be taking them to the rental board,” Bagg noted.

The issue is especially salient at the moment, since the construction of the new MUHC hospital is likely to bring gentrification to lower NDG, she said. “That’s where rents are already low, as opposed to some other parts of NDG, and we really want to preserve that.”
The fact that only certain sections of NDG have cheap rents makes it that much more urgent to keep those prices from increasing, Bagg explained.

While the website alone won’t solve the larger problem, Bagg said one of its benefits is to help community members become aware of their rights and options.

“It seems to be getting some attention which is great, and we’re glad not only because of the visibility of the site but also because it gets people to think ‘oh, we do have a right to transfer our lease in Quebec,’” she explained.

While both people who need to leave their leases early and those looking for affordable apartments are likely to benefit from the site, “maybe some people might be interested in doing it as a political act,” she said. “If you do have a good lease that’s still relatively affordable then I hope some people would consider transferring that so it could be maintained for more people.”

Bagg added that a more comprehensive solution to the issue could be found in a province-wide registry of rent prices, which would be publicly accessible. The NDG Community Council has been participating in a campaign by the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec calling for the government to create such a registry, she noted.

“But because these things take a long time, we thought we could do our own little part in the neighbourhood,” she said.

The site can be found at Bagg said that the project is likely to do well in NDG because “it’s a place where people have community spirit, and they are interested in doing something that’s going to help the collective good.”

[ Anja Karadeglija ]

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