The Office municipal d’habitation de Montréal (the “OMHM”) asked the Ombudsman de Montréal what general direction seemed appropriate to her, in certain specific cases, namely:

  • When an OMHM tenant is hospitalized; and
  • The health institution then informs the OMHM that this tenant will not gain back the level of autonomy needed to return to his/her dwelling; and that
  • In light of this notice and with the consent of the tenant (or a third party, if the tenant is unable to consent), the OMHM rescinds this person’s lease because he/she no longer meets the autonomy requirements to keep such dwelling; and that
  • Surprisingly, this person later regains a sufficient level of autonomy and asks that his/her former dwelling, or an equivalent one, be attributed to him/her, in priority.

After due consideration, the Ombudsman de Montréal informed the OMHM that, in her opinion and subject to the special circumstances of each case, the OMHM should give priority to this person and offer him/her the first available dwelling that meets his/her needs. The Ombudsman de Montréal is, however, of the opinion that this person cannot demand to obtain his/her former dwelling if it is already occupied by someone else.

The reasoning upholding this position is as follows:

  • Given the great amount of people on the HLM waiting lists, the chances of this former tenant to obtain a new HLM, in short or long term, is very low if he/she is not given priority;
  • This person had already undergone the whole waiting process and completed all the required steps to obtain the HLM dwelling he/she no longer has, because of the erroneous prognosis;
  • The OMHM should take into account the fact that the lease of this tenant was rescinded for reasons completely out of his/her control namely, the erroneous prognosis made by medical experts. Indeed, it is only due to the said prognosis that this person lost his/her HLM dwelling;
  • Finally, granting a dwelling in priority, in such circumstances, would not really cause prejudice to the other people on the waiting list. Had it not been for the erroneous prognosis, this person’s dwelling would not have been freed and the other persons on the waiting list would not have progressed by one level: if priority is given to this former tenant, the people on the waiting list will simply take back the rank they would have had, if the medical error had not occured.

The OMHM has welcomed the comments from the Ombudsman de Montréal.

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