Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavik November 01, 2010 - 5:05 pm

Nunavik carries out its first deadbeat evictions

Five social tenants owing $10,000 or more in rent get booted out

JANE GEORGE
Social housing tenants in Nunavik now risk eviction if they don’t pay up their arrears. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Social housing tenants in Nunavik now risk eviction if they don’t pay up their arrears. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

KUUJJUAQ — If you don’t pay rent on your social housing unit in Nunavik, you may find yourself evicted, with all your belongings stacked by the side of the street in boxes and bags.

This summer five tenants, who each owed more than $10,000 — and refused to pay any of their arrears to the Kativik Municipal Housing, Bureau, were kicked out.

The KMHB’s board of directors had decided not to evict families or elders, but even so it wasn’t hard to find five delinquent social housing tenants, said KMHB manager Watson Fournier.

Others who owe thousands in unpaid rent shouldn’t feel secure, because the housing bureau’s board members plan to re-evaluate their criteria for evictions in 2011, Fournier said.

While 700 Nunavimmiut owe substantial amounts in arrears, Fournier said the KMHB can’t evict that many people because there would be nowhere for them to go.

But up to 40 habitual non-payers could be evicted next summer, Fournier said.

By Quebec law, tenants can’t be evicted during the winter.

But tenants of social housing who don’t pay their rent can be evicted during the warmer months, according to the individual judgments which the Quebec rental board hands down each year for tenants with sizeable arrears.

Until 2010, the KMHB hadn’t exercised its right to evict tenants.

For its first evictions, the KMHB gave tenants ample time to agree to pay at least part of their rent arrears, sending them “last chance” letters and then advising them before the arrival of a bailiff to serve the formal eviction papers.

To carry out the evictions, a bailiff had to present these papers in person at the residence at least three days before the eviction.

The eviction process required two trips for the bailiffs, who spent three days visiting the tenants, two in Kuujjuaraapik, two in Akulivik and one in Kuujjuaq, to hand them the initial papers and then another the following week to carry out the actual eviction.

During the eviction, movers took all the furniture out of the units.

Generally, movers put items in boxes and bags and leave them by the side of the road.

In the case of the five recent evictions, only one of the tenants had left anything in the unit and this was placed in a container.

Over the past 10 years, Nunavik has accumulated $11.7 million in unpaid rent, $1.4 million in 2009, according to information handed out earlier this year at a Kativik Regional Council meeting in Akulivik.

The communities owing the most rent include:

• Akulvik — $846,588;
• Inukjuak — $1.3 million;
• Kangiqsualujjuaq — $1.4 million;
• Kuujjuaq — $2.3 million;
• Kuujjuaraapik — $1.5 million; and
• Puvirnituq — $1.3 million.

More than one in three social housing tenants of Nunavik’s 2,300 social housing units didn’t pay their rent this year in Kuujjuaraapik, with nearly as high rates of arrears in Kangiqsualujjuaq and Umiujaq.

But they don’t have to face eviction if they make an effort to pay at least some of the back rent by an agreement with the KMHB.

“We have lots of people who will take the rest of their life to pay off their arrears,” Fournier said.

The KMHB is encouraging tenants to agree to have rent for their social housing unit deducted at source from their pay cheques.

By law, Nunavimmiut on social assistance must receive their entire monthly cheque with no deductions for rent made beforehand.

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