Lasalle—On Monday, November 28, one of the tenants in the low-income seniors building at 760 Gamelin came home to find an envelope attached the door handle with an elastic band. Inside was a one-page eviction notice in French requiring the apartment to be fully vacant by the end of today (Wednesday).
“I don’t believe it. It’s supposed to be six or seven days before the day of departure,” said Louise Hébert, the Communications Director for the Office municipal d’habitation de Montreal (OMHM). She then agreed to look into the details. Hébert also confirmed that this tenant was treated in the same way any tenant would be treated in similar circumstances. “We followed the same procedure that we always use. We cannot do whatever we want in these cases. We have to follow the official procedure.”
If this case is typical, the OMHM uses the Régie du logement du Quebec (the rental board) as a collection agency. Tenants are given little time to review documents or consult lawyers and can be convicted when absent. English-speaking tenants have no automatic right to be informed about the complicated process in their own language.
In this case, the OMHM took a unilingual English-speaking tenant to the rental board to collect a sum of $412, which included fees in arrears of $70 plus June’s rent for a total of $412. The OMHM representative also argued that the tenant had paid late four previous times and should be evicted. The tenant did not appear during the hearing, which took place on July 18. The rental board decision reflected the OMHM requests and was sent in French to both parties on July 25.
On August 15, the tenant submitted a claim to the rental board to argue that the July decision should be reversed. The tenant claimed to have received no notice about the hearing date due to being on holiday from July 8 to July 24. The tenant claim included receipts for money orders made out to the OMHM on time for May, June and July’s rent and documentation about a misunderstanding about a parking spot leading to a $5 rate plus a $66 late fee being incorrectly charged to the file.
On October 27, the appeal was heard. This time, both parties attended with lawyers. The decision, which was rendered on November 17, upholds the July decision. The administrative judge cited a belief in the OMHM testimony that that the tenant was informed by telephone on July 12 about the hearing date six days later. He also accepted the OMHM representative’s claim to have sent a written notice by post, and made it clear that such notices do not have to be registered, nor is a tenant signature required. He also questioned why the tenant waited more than fifteen days to submit a request to retract the judgement.
The tenant received the four page judgement in French from the Montreal Rental Board last Thursday.
Note: This article appeared in the city edition of the Suburban on November 30.