Plateau Mont Royal | House tenants fear renovations

Tenants of a room apartment in Plateau Mont-Royal fear being evicted by the new owners, who have already carried out work without a permit. The latter say they want to maintain the vocation of the building, despite messages to the tenants to the contrary.

Posted at 5:00 am

Frederik-Xavier Duhamel

Frederik-Xavier Duhamel
The press

« Des travaux majeurs seront effectués à cette adresse dans le but de lui redonner sa vocation d’origine, celle d’un seul appartement », peut-on lire dans un avis aux locataires du 4232, avenue Christophe-Colomb poster à la fin de last year.

4232 is the ground floor of a three-storey building that until recently had 21 rooms, or seven per floor.

“We offer interested parties the opportunity to take another living space in the property,” another opinion states. “If you do not choose to accept this offer, it is possible that in the coming weeks or months the structural work and/or change of use of the building will force us to ask you to leave. †

“I think she wants to kick us out and build a flat or something,” sighed Normand Léveillé, who has lived at 4232 for 11 years. He considered moving to the third, 4228, in a room that would have cost him $140 more a month, before changing his mind. Does he think he can stay? “I wonder. †


PHOTOGRAPH MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

Normand Léveillé has been renting a room in the building on rue Christophe-Colob, in Montreal for 11 years.

“She” is Ariane Cordeau, who bought the building last fall with her husband, Frédéric Allali. It was subsequently listed for a price of $1,975,000.

“What I understood was that the first floor was to become an apartment, the people who were there, they were moving,” said Alain Isabelle, a tenant on the second floor, 4230, who lived on the street before moving. † “We were told that if you are a smoker you would be kicked out, some were told to clean their house or else they would be kicked out. Let’s just say there was a bit of pressure. †

However, chamber houses are now protected on the Plateau, as in other parts of the city, where they are becoming increasingly rare.

“No renovations”

In response to the announcements, another longtime tenant of 4232, Wojtek Donimirski, consulted the Plateau Mont-Royal Housing Committee and circulated a petition in the neighborhood “against the transformation of the building”.

“It seems obvious to us that they bought this with no intention of keeping a room. It won’t be profitable enough for them,” said Vicky Langevin, community organizer at the Comité Logement du Plateau.

But the new owners now insist they don’t want to change the building’s vocation, despite the notices they’ve signed. “We don’t want to do resits. Renovating would mean we earn less, when we bought this because there are 20 homes,” assured Mr. Allali.

He and his wife admitted to having discussions with certain tenants about smoking and the hygiene of the property, about which other tenants would complain. They also said they had had issues with tenants who reportedly suffered from mental health issues.

As for the more expensive accommodation offered to Mr Léveillé, Mr Allali notes that he gets a discount on his current room because he was the caretaker of the building, a position he no longer holds.

Works for a too small room

The co-owner speaks of 20 apartments, and not 21, as two rooms of 4230 have been combined, one of which, according to him, is too small to rent. This work, which was carried out without a permit, led to an order to stop the work last March.

“We didn’t need a permit for this work, it was just an apartment renovation,” defended Mr. Allali, who is a lawyer. It was the need for structural works, which was discovered during these “renovations”, which, according to him, led to the intervention of the City and the invitation to the tenants of the ground floor to leave the property.

“A non-compliance report was made for performing unauthorized non-compliant work on 2and floor of the guest house. (They have converted two rooms to make it a home)”, Geneviève Allard, spokesperson for the municipality of Plateau-Mont-Royal, reported by email.

“The municipality sees no reason whatsoever that could justify the owner getting a waiver for his project,” she added after a meeting between the municipality and the owners on Tuesday.

The illegally furnished living quarters must be converted into a bedroom and no interior work may be carried out without first obtaining a permit.

Geneviève Allard, spokesperson for the municipality of Plateau-Mont-Royal

As for the structural work, there is currently a permit application “for work in the basement and on the ground floor under study”, according to the spokesperson.

mme Langevin remains skeptical. “It’s not impossible for a building to need work that sometimes involves temporary tenant moves,” she admitted. But “often it’s a slightly more subtle way to convince tenants that things are going to get complicated” […]that it would be better to terminate the lease”.

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