A Drummondville real estate investor who had evicted about forty tenants under the guise of wanting to build condos finally decided to sublet the houses by significantly increasing the rent.
“We were told we were evicted because they wanted to do condos, and actually today there are no condos, but they have doubled the rental rates,” laments Thérèse Raymond, who lived in his 6 1/2 building for 26 years Rue Fugère in Drummondville, in the Center-du-Québec region.
On April 25, 2022, the tenant, who was 81 at the time of the events, received a letter after an operation in which Jean-François Houle announced the purchase of her house.
“The condominiums are sold individually, you can move in at any time as we are doing major renovations. (Deadline July 31),” the letter said.
For Ms Raymond, who left in July 2022, there was no doubt the new landlord wanted to sack her in order to increase her rent, which totaled $610 a month.
“I went back and I know he didn’t do a condo like he said. In addition, we see ads for apartments advertised for $ 1,210, ”denounces the octogenarian.
Isabelle Brochu lived at her side in the rue Villemure. After struggling with bugs and flooding in her accommodation for several months without being fixed by her landlord, she decided to leave.
“I was paying $750 a month, and a few weeks after I left, I saw that he had increased the price by $400 without even making any repairs,” explains someone who knows several people who also left after buying it by Mr. Houle.
Le Journal was able to see on social media that some of the apartments were for rent for around $1,200 or even $1,500.
Not wanting to experience too much stress to be able to stay in her home, Mrs Raymond, like many of her neighbors, accepted a small sum of money as compensation for leaving.
“He gave me a month’s rent and $700 to move,” she explains.
Another tenant received an offer of $1,000 to vacate her home, says Action Location Drummond, an organization that defends the rights of renters in the community, which the resident contacted. No other tenant has joined the housing committee in this case.
“Often people don’t know their rights or know anything about the organization, so they get tricked by their landlord and accept money to leave when they have the right to stay in their accommodation,” says Mélanie Gamelin, who works for works site of action Drummond.
dozens of properties
Jean-François Houle appears to have gotten his hands on dozens of properties over the past two years, mostly in Drummondville. He would still own at least ten residential properties between 2021 and 2022 and sell at least sixteen more.
For a former employee of Mr Houle, it comes as no surprise that the owner has not converted the units into condominiums as he had announced to residents.
“I didn’t like the way he worked, it wasn’t fair. He gave my name, he used me as a shield not to manage the tenants’ complaints that he published and I had to manage everything,” regrets the one who asked to reveal his identity for fear of reprisals hide.
Contacted by Le Journal, Jean-François Houle neither answered nor answered our numerous calls.
– With Nicolas Brasseur, agency QMI
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