Public funds used to establish a form of rent registry

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Three boroughs of the city of Montreal have recently passed a resolution to grant subsidies to the founders of the website which collects data by address related to rent. No less than $13 000 were awarded to the project by the boroughs of the Plateau Mont-Royal, Rosemont Petite-Patrie and Southwest, all directed by mayors who are members of the opposition of Montreal’s city council.

To justify such expenditure of public funds, Rosemont responded by saying that this «will allow the democratization of housing data in the district »*. However, information on the average rent prices by borough is already available on the CMHC website. Furthermore, when a tenant chooses to live in an area, he can easily get an idea of the rent prices of the available apartments that interest him by simply consulting the classified ads.

What is the use of collecting data that already exists? For CORPIQ, the answer is clear: it is a form of rent registry. CORPIQ strongly condemns this initiative for two reasons.

First, rent prices by address are highly confidential data and should not be made public. In fact, it would be easy for anyone to cross reference information relating to rent with the property assessment roll in order to know the income of an owner.

Moreover, the fact of knowing the previous rent rate enables the new tenant to ask the Régie du Logement for a rent fixation even though the lease has just been signed. For example, an owner who has invested $15 000 on a dwelling and has increased the rent from $500 to $700 could risk a rent fixation of $531 by the court. It is worth mentioning that just because a rent increase exceeds the recommendations of the Régie du Logement, does not mean that it is abusive, contrary to what some activist groups would have us believe. A tenant, who signs a lease, does it voluntarily and should not be allowed to revoke his signature.

CORPIQ believes that a lease registry would further damage the real estate inventory and even cause a reduction in the number of dwellings available.

For their part, the boroughs of Verdun and Ahuntsic-Cartierville have opposed the project by stating that they «believe the lease management falls under the responsibilities of the Régie du Logement, in itself a public entity for which the borough must not substitute»*.

*Source : Journal Métro, Une application pour mieux choisir son logement?

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