For the Right to Housing
The Coalition of Housing Committees and Tenants Associations of Quebec’s (RCLALQ) principal objective is to advocate for the right to housing, and to act as a political spokesperson for tenants, in particular low-income households. Furthermore, it mobilizes people to take action on housing rights related issues through popular education and public awareness campaigns. Finally, the coalition supports tenants’ rights through informing, training, and disseminating legal, political, and social content.
The bulk of the RCLALQ’s work is focused on five important files:
1. Rent Control
Contrary to popular belief, there is no rent control in Quebec. If tenants don’t object to an abusive rent increase, landlords can sleep in peace. The burden of opposing illegal rent increases rests on the shoulders of the tenants, meaning that landlords propose abusive hikes with little risk of any repercussions. It is up to tenants to refuse an increase so that the cost of rent is fixed by the Tribunal Administratif du Logement. Few tenants exercise this right, due to lack of familiarity with the system or to avoid tense relations with their landlord. This system has resulted in significant rent increases threatening access to healthy, sufficiently large and affordable housing for thousands of tenant households. Since its creation, the RCLALQ has campaigned for the introduction of mandatory and universal rent control to promote access to quality housing, free from the influence of excessive real estate speculation.
2. Access to Justice for Tenants
The Tribunal Administratif du Logement was originally given the mandate to re-establish a balance in relations between tenants and landlords. The Tribunal used a variety of means to attain this, such as undertaking studies on the rental market, and holding information kiosks in public spaces on the rights and obligations of lessors and lessees. Opening a file was free and the wait time never exceeded 3 months until the year 2000. Eventually it strayed drastically from its initial mandate by reducing the services offered to the population, by no longer offering assistance in opening files, and by prioritizing the processing of landlord files. The RCLALQ advocates for changes be made to the Tribunal so it will be just and accessible to all tenants.
3. The Fight Against Discrimination in Housing
There are numerous reasons people have been refused accommodation: being poor, coming from elsewhere, having different beliefs, having children, or being pregnant. Although discrimination is prohibited by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, this protection is insufficient in the face of the realities experienced by tenants when looking for housing. Housing discrimination must end. To do this, the RCLALQ is campaigning for the complaint processes to be simplified and for the penalties for offending owners to be more coercive.
4. The Fight Against Unhealthy Living Conditions
Mold, bedbugs, cockroaches, mice, rats, leaking water, necessary repairs … In addition to having serious impacts on the living conditions of tenants, insalubrious housing is characteristic of significant social inequalities. Often a lack of resources forces tenants to live in substandard housing. The RCLALQ is campaigning for the introduction of legislation on the sanitation of housing at the provincial level as well as for better enforcement of existing regulations in municipalities.
5. Protection of Tenants in the Current Rental Market
In Quebec, with a few exceptions, the law establishes that a tenant can stay in their dwelling as long as desired, provided they respect the terms of the lease. However, the right to property, recognized by the Civil Code of Quebec, very often threatens that of the right to remain in the premises. From evictions of tenants, to repossessions of housing, major renovations to increase the value of the unit and its resale as a condo, or housing withdrawn from the market to be rented at a high price on a short-term rental platform like Airbnb: the erosion of the rental housing market seriously impacts tenants.