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Lease transfers: Minister Duranceau remains inflexible

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The Minister of Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, in a press scrum last October.< /p>The Canadian Press

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Despite the arguments of the opposition parties, the Minister of Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, remained inflexible on the question of lease transfers during the study of Bill 31 on housing , asserting that it is not a means of controlling rents.

The lease assignment has become a rent control tool, because the other tools that exist do not work, retorted solidarity deputy Andrés Fontecilla to this argument, adding that the minister is showing angelism in this matter.

Minister Duranceau notably affirmed that a duplex owner has the right to choose who will live above his head. It’s a scarecrow to make people believe that if there is no longer the transfer of lease, it becomes the Wild West, she said, recalling that other rules are in force.

I would like to know why we now see the transfer of leases as a major problem when we are in the middle of a housing crisis. […] I would like to know what the minister responds to those who say that this is the worst time to abolish the possibility of the transfer of leases, asked PQ MP Joël Arseneau.

France-Élaine Duranceau responded that other provisions in the bill would protect tenants, particularly with regard to evictions.

Liberal MP Elisabeth Prass criticized the minister for being only concerned about owners.

For you, this is not a tool, but clearly, for tenant advocacy groups, it is. I ask you to have a more open mind and take into consideration the reality of tenants and not just that of owners.

A quote from Elisabeth Prass, Liberal MP for D'Arcy-McGee

While admitting that she did not have data from her ministry on this subject, France-Élaine Duranceau assured that the transfer of leases is an increasingly important problem.

We rely on the different associations we have spoken to. Clearly, at the tenant level, there must be some [lease assignments]. If it causes such an outcry, it's because it's widely used.

A quote from France-Élaine Duranceau, Quebec Minister of Housing

Bill 31 has made a lot of waves since it was introduced last June. The minister immediately announced her desire to tackle lease transfers, which had raised the ire of tenant groups.

If this bill is adopted, an owner will be able to refuse an assignment of lease for reasons other than serious ones. The minister defended herself by arguing that if an owner refuses an assignment of lease, it will simply be terminated.

Last September, Prime Minister François Legault did not rule out the possibility that his government could back down on lease transfers when we learned that the number of homeless people had jumped 44% in Quebec compared to to 2018. A report from the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec indicated that the shortage of affordable housing was part of the causes of this increase.

On Wednesday, parliamentarians debated at length another controversial measure in Bill 31 which was finally adopted on Thursday. Article 37.2 will allow municipalities with at least 10,000 inhabitants and whose vacancy rate is less than 3% to ignore their own urban planning regulations for construction a minimum of three accommodations.

A municipality may also deviate from its rules if a construction project is mainly composed of social or affordable housing or housing for students. A municipality that wants to use this measure will only have to organize a public meeting. This exceptional regime will have a maximum duration of five years.

According to liberal MP Virginie Dufour, this modification completely changes the nature of the draft law.

Same story from PQ MP Joël Arseneau. The description of today's bill does not correspond at all to the one tabled in June. It is completely different, he argued.

The Association of Construction and Housing Professionals of Quebec (APCHQ) supported this amendment on Network We must act quickly, our communities are running out of steam, the organization wrote on Thursday.

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