Lennoxville landlords say COVID-19 caused increase in subletting

By Reann Fournier, Special to The Record

The Lennoxville student village is usually an off-campus hub for Bishop’s students, where celebrating the weekend is a week-long event. With our current situation, however, the student village has been less vibrant this year with many students staying in their hometowns to attend classes virtually.
This means that landlords in the community have had to adapt. With attempts at breaking leases, empty units, and students keeping their apartments but not actually moving in, it has all been a learning process for local landlords.
Mathieu Chailler, the owner of 26 buildings in Lennoxville, said that while students may not be returning, Quebec law has been huge in protecting landlords. “Some students have tried to break leases but, in Quebec, you have to transfer, and they’re responsible for their unit until a sublet is found.”
The law states that the tenant who signed the lease is responsible for the term agreed upon with the landlord. There are only four exceptions to this law, and in many students’ cases, those exceptions don’t apply. Transferring their lease is then the only option for students unable to return to Lennoxville.
Linus Mulherin, a student renting in Lennoxville, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic is the reason he has not been able to return to his apartment. “If the pandemic hadn’t happened, I would be on campus this semester,” he said. “I haven’t found someone to sublet as of yet, and it’s not ideal. Since I’m staying home I’m saving money anyway, but it still stings a bit knowing I’m paying for an apartment I’m not even using.”
According to Chailler, people in the area are still looking to rent. “A lot of people are looking for single apartments, which has been difficult,” he said. “People don’t want to be living with others, but all I have left is bigger apartments with two to four people.”
Chailler said that, while living alone seems to be the overwhelming want from the community, there has been very little concern among his tenants when it comes to COVID-19 protocols. “There certainly are less people coming in and out,” said Chailler. “Students are home more often now that they’re not supposed to be more than ten gathered together.”
Chailler added that this may be the beginning of a larger issue between landlords and tenants. “So far, we’ve mostly been dealing with sublets, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens if stricter regulations come into play or if things shut down again,” he said.

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