Laval gives $180,000 to consumer group dealing with Bel-Habitat fallout

House builder’s insolvency left many home buyers penniless and without a roof

The City of Laval says it has come to an agreement with a provincial consumer rights group to provide financial assistance to house buyers from Laval who were victimized by the bankruptcy of the Bel-Habitat homes company last summer.

Help coming

The agreement with the Association des consommateurs pour la qualité dans la construction (ACQC) will allow for the implementation of a program by the ACQC to assist the home buyers who were cast adrift, so that hopefully they will finally be able to complete the purchase of their homes.

According to a statement from the city, Laval will be giving an amount up to $180,000 to the ACQC, based on terms in the agreement.

“The City of Laval is continuing to take all the measures necessary within our municipal abilities by deploying resources to come to the assistance to the citizens impacted so that they can turn the page on this unfortunate situation,” said Mayor Marc Demers.

‘An ordeal,’ says Demers

“We know the extent to which these families are preoccupied with this and we hope to offer them the maximum assistance in order to support them during this ordeal,” he added.

Some of the houses in Laval left partly completed following the bankruptcy of Bel-Habitat. (Photo: Courtesy of TVA)

“Since the bankruptcy of Bel-Habitat, the ACQC has received a number of calls from concerned consumers,” said Marc-André Harnois, the ACQC’s executive-director. “The information that we were prepared to give was, nonetheless, limited taking into accounts the needs.

“With the financial assistance from the City of Laval, we will soon be able to offer an assistance that is much more comprehensive to consumers who wish to pursue their housing project in spite of the somewhat significant sums they risk not being able to recuperate.

Surviving the crisis

“This is useful help which, I have no doubt, will lighten the burden for those who are struggling so that their project can survive this bankruptcy,” said Harnois.

The city says the assistance program to Bel-Habitat victims will take place in two stages. The first will provide orientation to Bel-Habitat clients in order to determine if they are admissible to the program.

A second stage will provide them with help to make requests from the City of Laval and to understand the replies and how they should respond to the city or to other professional authorities who will also be involved in the processes.

Actions taken by Laval

Since the beginning of the Bel-Habitat bankruptcy crisis last June, the city has provided some assistance to the victims. This includes:

  • The creation of a single service point to accompany the victims in their requests for permits and authorizations;
  • An agreement for financial aid with Juripop, an organization that offers consultations with lawyers towards finding legal solutions;
  • A tripartite agreement aimed at paying sums due to a sub-contractor and bringing to completion the house building projects started by the buyers of lots on des Abeilles St., while allowing the affected families to acquire the lots on which they made deposits for the construction of their homes.

Some additional facts

  • Persons eligible for the program are those who gave money to Bel-Habitat or Bel-Habitat 2 in conjunction with a property on the territory of the City of Laval and as part of a residential project that was not completed.
  • The subsidy provided by the city must be mostly used by the ACQC towards the implementation of the assistance program, and cannot be used to defray the costs of professional fees and honorariums of eligible program participants.

Bel-Habitat declared bankruptcy last June, disrupting the lives of hundreds of families in Laval who had handed over large sums of money to the company for homes which were supposed to be built.