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Housing crisis: at the crossroads of various jurisdictions and areas of legal practice

11 January 2024

In an update on Canada’s housing shortage released on September 13, 2023, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimated that by 2030, a total of 3.5 million housing units would need to be built to restore the balance between supply and demand, and thus regain an acceptable level of affordability. For Québec, these required housing starts amount to 860,000 for the same period (over 100,000 units annually), while only 35,000 new homes are planned for 2023.

In addition to these striking statistics, there’s the indisputable fact that housing is a shared jurisdiction between all three levels of government in Canada (federal, provincial and municipal), even though it is an exclusive provincial responsibility under the Canadian constitution. Consequently, the various players in the Québec housing sector (owners, investors, contractors, real estate developers, tenants, etc.) need to rely on sound legal advice to better target their interventions, all the more so in a context of housing shortages, high interest rates, constantly rising rents and limited public funding.

In addition to the respective jurisdictions of the three levels of government, the housing issue touches on several areas of practice, including real estate law, municipal law and construction law. The legal solutions proposed to advise the key players in this sector must necessarily take this multidisciplinary approach into account.

In addition, the rise in the Bank of Canada’s key interest rate over the course of 2023 has had a major impact on the ability of real estate promoters and developers to finance and thus start or even complete their projects.

This reality exacerbates the pressure on the various players in the construction industry to manage their cash flow, an issue that is already giving rise to numerous disputes.

As a result, real estate lawyers must regularly keep abreast of the policies, regulations and initiatives put in place by the three levels of government, which are aimed in particular at alleviating this crisis and better coordinating the respective efforts of public decision-makers.

These lawyers can also prove to be real strategic partners in the setting up, advancement and completion of these real estate projects.

If you have any questions about the housing crisis, you can contact one of Dunton Rainville’s real estate and municipal lawyers.