Tips for reducing gentrification

Excerpted from QPIRG Concordia’s 2012 publication “Gentrify This! A Student’s Guide to Understanding and Resisting Gentrification” 

Whether we like it or not, students are part and parcel of the process of gentrification. As a generally low-income population, we tend to migrate towards the affordable rents of working class neighbourhoods. But we seldom stay in an apartment for long and usually don’t know our rights as tenants, allowing landlords to continue profiting from crumbling apartment buildings and then to increase the rent indiscriminately upon our departure. Similarly, our arrival in a neighbourhood foreshadows the arrival of new bars, cafes, and stores, often to the detriment of other local businesses, social organizations, and ways of life.

The main fault in this whole process, of course, lies squarely with the big developers, who promote lifestyles foreign to and impossible for the socio-economically marginalized to obtain, with the direct intention of creating profit through the establishment of pleasant environments for the wealthy. As the Prével-developed Imperial Loft website brags, ‘There will be a terrace on the roof, a terrace with a swimming pool and an urban chalet with barbecue, kitchen, lounge, fireplace and billiard table to allow residents to take full advantage of their urban environment.’ In the gentrified landscape, the urban environment is not about building neighbourhood connections so much as it is a muted backdrop upon which to paint images of bourgeois socio-cultural perfection.

Know Your Rights 


You have the right to refuse a rent increase.

If you have signed a twelve-month lease, as most tenants have, your lease likely renews automatically every July 1st. If the landlord wishes to increase the rent, they must inform you, in writing, at least three months in advance of this date. You have a month in which to respond. Your landlord may very well try to negotiate in person, but never sign anything on the spot! Further, ‘Section G’ of your lease should indicate the rent of the previous tenant. If your rent is higher than the amount indicated, you have 10 days after signing the lease to apply to the Régie du logement for a ‘rent fixation’ hearing. If your landlord has not filled out section G, or you discover the previous tenants’ rent was actually lower than indicated, you have two months to apply for the same hearing. It’s important to make sure you leave a copy of your old lease for the new tenant, because landlords will often try to take advantage of this situation to greatly increase the rent.


If you decide to move, transfer your lease directly to the new tenant. 

Transferring your lease instead of terminating it means that the new tenant assumes the rights and responsibilities for the apartment in question and the terms of the lease –including the RENT – remain the same (subject to the minor increases permitted by law for tax increases, repairs, etc.). This is one of the most effective tools for keeping the rent down.


Keep up the pressure to get repairs done to maintain dignified living conditions for economically marginal populations. If you do them yourself, charge the landlord!

The landlord is legally responsible for all repairs to your apartment, be it urgent repairs (such as frozen pipes or mold problems) or major renovations. Let your landlord know of needed repairs as soon as possible, either by registered mail or by telephone with a witness present. In the case of urgent repairs, give the landlord 48 hours to do the repairs. If they don’t respond in this time, you can do them yourself and deduct the amount from your monthly rent (keep your receipts to prove your expenses!).


Be careful here, though: what you consider urgent and what the law considers urgent might be different things. If you haven’t paid your full rent and the Régie du logement rules against you, you could be evicted. If there’s any doubt, contact your local housing committee before proceeding.


Get to know your neighbourhood 

Become a rooted member in your community: Be friendly! Learn the names of your neighbours! Leave the library and walk a dog, or do some babysitting! Get involved in ongoing collective struggles in your neighbourhood through your local housing committee, tenants’ association, or autonomous neighbourhood assemblies.