Québec Solidaire suggest new tax aimed at speculative home buyers
MNA for Laurier-Dorion Andrés Fontecilla announced last Friday that he and his party Québec Solidaire would be tabling a motion to address the rising prices of rent in Montreal and across the province.
The law would impose a tax on so-called flippers, people who buy a property to renovate it and resell it at a profit, pushing up the price of property across the city.
The QS plan aims to address speculative buying with a new tax. “What we would like to propose today, very concretely, is a tax on real estate speculation,” said Fontecilla at a press conference in Québec City last Friday.
“It is a capital gains tax that would apply to residential property resold less than five years after the initial purchase,” he added.
Fontecilla, responsible for housing issues within Québec Solidaire, stated the measure would help calm an overheated housing market that has resulted in skyrocketing rent prices and a growing number of tenants evicted.
“I’ve been alerting the government to the housing crisis for months and by all possible means,” stated Fontecilla, adding that he had also invited the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Andrée Laforest to “visit households that are threatened with eviction in neighbourhoods like Parc-Extension.”
“The proof of this crisis is the scarcity of rental units and the excessively low vacancy rates, said Fontecilla, adding that “the proof is the huge increase in the selling price of properties.”
Although the MNA for Laurier-Dorion was happy about the advancements moving forward, Fontecilla nonetheless hurried the government to work quickly on the matter and not wait until next year to address the crisis.
“There are renovictions right now, people and households who will lose their homes and will find themselves on the street on July 1,” said Fontecilla.
Critical stance to the premier
Fontecilla was nonetheless very critical toward the CAQ government’s alleged lack of initiative in addressing the issue. “The Prime Minister himself is completely out of touch and shows a staggering lack of interest for the situation of tenants in Quebec,” he added.
“The premier of Quebec thinks $500 housing still exists in Montreal; I wonder if there is $500 housing elsewhere,” stated Fontecilla.
These remarks come after François Legault said at the National Assembly last Wednesday that the starting rent for an apartment in Montreal was between $500 and $600 after being asked the question by Québec Solidaire co-leader Manon Massé. “Good luck finding that,” was Massé’s response.
Legault later clarified that he was speaking of the price students paid when they share an apartment.
Many dilapidated properties
For Parc-Extension city councillor Mary Deros, she feels the problem must be analyzed thoroughly before any type of legislation is brought forward. “I would like to see stats,” she said.
“How many homes have been flipped in Parc-Ex over the last year?” she asked, adding that “if that’s what stops bringing up the prices of rental properties, so be it.”
Deros nonetheless said that it was important to look at the other side of the issue and consider the reason behind the growth in the renovation of properties.
“Right now the problem is homeowners have gotten old,” said Deros of owners who are not necessarily able to take care of their properties, adding that many have “stopped investing in their homes, the apartments are in bad shape.”
Deros would like to see more statistics with regards to the number of homes that have been flipped to determine whether this proposal will actually have a positive effect on the housing crisis. “Why do I need to make a regulation and make it more complex within the city,” if the proposed solution does not solve the problem she asked.
She nonetheless commended the work of local housing organizations and initiatives such as the Comité d’Action de Parc-Extension, which provide aid and counselling on housing rights to local tenants.
Criticism by CORPIQ
The announcement by Fontecilla came the same day after the Quebec Landlords Corporation (CORPIQ), an organization representing the interests of residential rental property owners, published a statement on the matter.
In the letter, Director of Public Affairs Hans Brouillette stated that political actors like Québec Solidaire, housing organizations and the mayor of Montreal Valérie Plante, were exaggerating the crisis for political reasons.
Titled Inventing a housing crisis to get re-elected, Brouillette stated that rent in Montreal remained affordable and that supply was still acceptable. “Activists and elected officials on the left want to control prices but are not interested in costs,” stated Brouillette.
Need to act now
Fontecilla responded to these allegations stating that it was not “the wicked forces on the left that created the housing crisis, but rather the speculators.”
“We no longer have time to procrastinate, we no longer have time to fool around, it’s time to act,” said Fontecilla, concluding by saying that “a tax on speculative real estate transactions, would give results very, very quickly.”