→ send an email to the housing minister
Bill 31 is still under study, either for the next couple weeks or months. But for the government to reverse course, we must express our disapproval of the legislation en masse.
Write to the housing minister urging revisions to Bill 31 to keep tenants’ right to a lease transfer.
Emails and letter template here.
WHAT ARE LEASE TRANSFERS?
Lease transfers are one of the last defenses against the displacement of queer, trans, immigrant, BIPOC, and working-class communities—the heart of our city and our nightlife.
When moving out, many Montreal residents will choose to transfer their lease—instead of declining to renew— to prevent their landlord from arbitrarily raising rent on the incoming tenant.
Lease transfers help keep housing costs reasonable for everyone—not just those who rent. They discourage speculation in real estate by making it harder for landlords and investors to rely on rent increases in their perpetual race for higher profits.
Informal lease transfer networks also provide an essential alternative for those facing housing discrimination from biased landlords.
Lease transfers are also a way for us to look out for each other—they have been essential in preventing displacement of queer, BIPOC, immigrant, and working-class communities.
Even the threat of a lease transfer can put renters in a better position to compel their landlords to meet lease obligations and make essential repairs. They are one of the few actions at our disposal before resorting to disconnected tribunals to defend against exploitation and neglect.
→ info on how to transfer your lease here
WHY DOES BILL 31 MATTER?
Underground art/ists depend on affordable rent. Bill 31, the CAQ’s bid to end lease transfers, is a direct attack on our art & communities.
If Bill 31 is adopted, it will officially give homeowners the right to refuse a lease transfer without bearing the onus of just cause. The proposed changes will enrich landlords, encourage evictions, and eliminate one of our last weapons in the fight against rampant gentrification & rent hikes across Montreal.
In addition to exacerbating homelessness and other forms of precarity, an end to lease transfers would spell the end of affordable housing in Montreal—ringing the death bell for some of Montreal’s most vibrant and innovative artistic communities.
Montreal is the only city in Canada with more renters than homeowners, and unsurprisingly, underground artists and other essential creative workers are among the most likely to find themselves renting.
Creative experimentation has been able to flourish in Montreal over the decades due in large part to the city’s relatively affordable rent.
Higher cost-of-living will directly undermine the freedom of independent creators and organizers to work outside of business-oriented frameworks.
When artists are forced to prioritize the bottom line because they cannot find affordable rent anywhere in the city, the connections between social movements and the arts are also undercut. This damages the accessibility of scenes, as well as possibilities for experimentation and diversity essential to an innovative nightlife scene.
Like so many cities at the mercy of unchecked speculation, Montreal risks becoming a lifeless cultural relic. Rising housing costs have been displacing artists, immigrants, and working-class communities for decades—but it’s not too late to stop the city from becoming another San Francisco.
CAQ’s rationale for Bill 31 centres on mom and pop landlords, but the proposed legislation will particularly enrich corporate landlords—who own dozens to thousands of units each.
The majority of Montreal’s rental housing is owned by commercial landlords—66% of the city’s rental housing is owned by landlords managing 5 or more units, and 54% of rentals in Montreal are managed by landlords with 10 or more units.*
31.7% of the city’s rental units are owned by just 0.46% of Montreal’s residential property owners. 179,606 homes in Montreal belong to just the 600 landlords, each with between 73 and 5,680 units in their portfolios—a group average of 300 units per landlord.
CAQ housing policies disproportionately benefit this small handful of commercial landlords—at the cost of our city’s culture, nightlife, and basic livability.
If the CAQ wanted to protect smaller landlords, they could have drafted the legislation providing tools specifically for landlords who live in the same duplex / triplex as their tenants.
The story of an artistic golden age never starts with a housing crisis, but it too often ends with one.
If you're an artist, an organizer, a student, a tenant, an immigrant—or simply enjoy underground & alternative nightlife—now is the time to show up.
→ send an email to the housing minister now
*Calculated by Cloe St-Hilaire using 2020 data from “High Rises or Housing Stress” (2023), Journal of the American Planning Association
WHY DOES QUEBEC NEED A RENT REGISTRY?
An official government rent registry would provide access to a unit’s rent history without having to appear before a housing tribunal.
While new tenants have the right to invoke section G of their lease—which compels landlords to disclose the lowest rent paid by the previous tenant in the year prior to the new lease—many are either unaware of their rights or may want to avoid jeopardizing their housing security.
Housing tribunal appearances are publicly logged, and future landlords may refuse to rent to you if they see you have invoked section G.
While landlords are not yet compelled to use it, there is a new non-governmental Rental Registry where tenants can enter their rent—an important act of solidarity with other tenants to help keep landlords in check and help preserve housing affordability across the city.
→ add your rent to the registry
→ learn more about your rights as a tenant
→ FURTHER READING
New Republic (2023). Want a Thriving Arts Scene? Build More Housing.
Mixmag (2023). How the cost of living crisis is impacting DJs and producers.
Cult MTL (2023). The CAQ is attacking artists by ending lease transfers, and artists need to step up.
The Star (2023). Loss of artist studio spaces for housing signals more than lack of affordability; it’s intentional displacement of people.