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Montreal, September 1st, 2010---CRARR has joined the Concordia Student Union (CSU) this morning in calling on the civil rights and housing authorities in Quebec to take decisive action against abusive apartment rental practices by Montreal landlords directed at international students.

According to CSU spokespersons responsible for student housing, advocacy and legal information, international students at Concordia University are regularly and increasingly exposed to what both groups call “predatory apartment rental practices” (PARP) by unscrupulous landlords who exploit these students’ lack of knowledge about Quebec housing laws, and their social vulnerability. This is believed to be the first time in Canada that the issue has been brought to the general public’s attention.

Some of these PARP include requiring students to make a deposit equivalent to 2 to 6 months rent; illegal and non-refundable application fees; large fees for sublet and lease transfers; collection of private information including passport, visa and health insurance numbers; and refusal to do repairs and provide basic services normally available to Canadian tenants.

As part of its new Student Civil Rights Information Project, CRARR has teamed up with different CSU student groups to protect international students’ housing rights. Both groups consider PARP to be a violation of international students’ civil rights, including the right to equality without discrimination (as guaranteed by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms) and the right to fair housing and other tenant protections as guaranteed by Quebec’s housing laws. Accordingly, CRARR will:

1. Work closely with CSU housing and the legal information clinic (LIC) to help international students, who are victims of PARP, file complaints with the Quebec Human Rights Commission and the Quebec Rental Board;

2. In conjunction with CSU, ask the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to launch a systemic inquiry into PARP, as stipulated under s. 71.1 of the Quebec Charter. To this effect, a formal written request is being submitted to the Commission;

3. Encourage the Rental Board to address PARP cases from a Charter anti-discrimination perspective and pay special attention to cases involving international students;

4. Urge all educational institutions and immigration authorities to better inform and assist international students on their right to fair housing, and to ban all relations with landlords committing PARP;

5. Pressure city housing inspectors to more stringently enforce housing standards in the Ville-Marie borough, and pay special attention to the needs of international students and other newcomers.

According to Andrea Clegg, a McGill social work intern at CRARR, “The right to fair, suitable and affordable housing is an internationally and domestically recognized right, and the right to live in Montreal without experiencing discrimination based on race, ethnic or national origin and social condition is also a guaranteed civil right for all.”

“It is a matter of fairness, and in the interest of Montreal’s international reputation, that we ensure that the more than 20,000 international students do not fall prey to apartment rental practices that openly transgress our housing, civil rights and privacy laws,” she said.

“Protecting these students from PARP should be an integral part of any plan to provide them with full and equal opportunities for successful education, integration and professional achievement”, Clegg added.

Recent data show that the number of international students at the four main local universities make Montreal one of Canada’s top choice for these students, who come from more than 70 countries. Concordia University has approximately 4,400 international students; McGill, 6,000; Université de Montréal, 5,800 and UQAM, 2,500. Most tend to live near their universities.

“We tend to think of international students as being wealthy and needing no protection from discrimination and exploitation. The reality is drastically different, especially for female students. We must apply the ”One Roof, One Right” principle for all”, added CRARR’s Executive Director Fo Niemi.

International students who experienced these practices can take legal action against their landlords, by taking their cases to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, the Quebec Rental Board and other authorities. To file a complaint with the human rights commission, one does not have to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident; the practice must have occurred within the last two years. To obtain CRARR's assistance, please write to

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