Substandard housing: the number of applications explodes

News 7 February, 2018
  • Photo Chantal Poirier
    Abdul Waheed Ahmed, a student of pakistani origin, in his unsanitary housing sector Parc-Extension, Montreal.

    Nicolas Lachance

    Wednesday, 7 February, 2018 00:00

    Wednesday, 7 February, 2018 00:00

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    Bed bug Infestation, mould, water infiltration, rot, odors : bad housing are on the rise in Quebec, while the number of recourse before the Régie du logement has reached a new record in 2017.

    “There has been an upsurge in the number of records,” said Martin Messier, the president of the Grouping of owners of rental homes (RPHL).

    According to the data obtained via the Law on access to information, in 2016-2017, there were 512 originating applications filed with the Régie du logement and which were linked to the unsanitary conditions. And, in less than ten months, 434 records were recorded in 2017-2018. “The owners have to do the requests due to congestion of the premises and poor use of the dwellings by the tenants,” explains the president.

    However, many tenants are also victims of the laxity of owners who leave buildings in a state of disrepair.

    The increase in cases of insalubrity is especially felt in Montreal (310 cases), Longueuil (38 cases) and Quebec (31 cases). The problems associated with bed bugs, and mold are the most common.

    Several problems

    According to the RPHL, the majority of the problems are caused by tenants ‘ negligent or who have bad habits of life.

    “People do not use the ventilation systems properly to save energy costs. And, we are struggling with homes that have mold, ” says Martin Messier. He wants to see the court proceedings to speed up in order to solve these problems more easily.

    “The decontamination process are not simple and are expensive. The mould, this is what we see most frequently. It is cumbersome for the owner and extremely long to the housing authority. These are the files that will take a year, a year and a half. We need an expert and it is really expensive. It will take an engineer, sometimes a specialist for sampling “, he recounted. The owners must also fight in order to terminate a lease and carry out the work.

    Very expensive

    Finally, Mr. Messier indicated that the remedies are very expensive for the owners because of legal procedures which require comprehensive records detailed by specialists in unsanitary conditions. “It can easily, in terms of legal fees, exceed 5000 $. It takes a good evidence. It takes an expert who is well documented. It’s not easy to have gain of cause, ” he said.

    The costs related to treatment and the work can also accumulate.

    Remedies for substandard housing

    • 2012-2013 : 437
    • 2013-2014 : 463
    • 2014-2015 : 392
    • 2015-2016 : 505
    • 2016-2017 : 512
    • 2017-2018 : 434 for the first 10 months

    (A year is from 1 April to 31 march).

    He waits for a hearing at the régie for 16 months

    A tenant has been waiting for over 16 months to confront its owner to the housing authority, so that his apartment is infested with cockroaches.

    Abdul Waheed Ahmed lives in a flat sector Parc-Extension in Montreal. The places are invaded by the cockroaches, and he has even been obliged to pay the plumber for a breakage caused by the negligence of the owner. In addition, the windows are mouldy and are not isolated, so that the temperature did not rise above 14 degrees sometimes this winter.

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    • Photo Chantal Poirier

    “The stress due to the poor cooperation of the owner and the delay of justice to the Régie makes me feel helpless and affects my health “, he confided to the Journal.

    The neighbors of Mr. Waheed Ahmed live in similar conditions, but do not have a lot of ways, speaking neither French nor English. The owners take advantage of this situation and take advantage of the poor, is supporting Mr. Waheed Ahmed, a student of pakistani origin.

    In this sector, as well as in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges in Montreal, the name of owners with multiple doors comes up frequently in front of the Régie du Logement. The example of RAAMCO International Properties is often quoted in the media.


    Thus, the tenants are wary of the Régie du logement due to delays in the stressful and unfair treatment records, to support the organizations that come to the aid of tenants.

    “Tenants can turn to the Régie to open a folder. But, there is a big mistrust. The numbers show that it is more used by the owners as tenants, ” said Jonathan Carmichael, a community organizer for a LEASE, a resource of Quebec. The agencies encourage tenants to turn to the municipalities.

    Community agencies report that tenants also are subject to mold, vermin and bed bugs due to the negligence of owner. “The issues of quality of housing, including unsanitary conditions, this is approximately one-quarter of our requests, he mentioned. Problems such as mold are common, bed bugs and rats. “