Alberta Tenants Demand Rent Control

by Chris on June 18, 2018

A grassroots tenant advocacy group based in Calgary is demanding rent control measures in Alberta.

The group has initiated a petition drive which so far has netted around 2,000 signatures, according to its website.

Currently, Alberta landlords are free to raise rent once a year so long as tenants receive adequate notice. However, the rental market in Calgary has been sluggish lately, with landlords holding off on rent increases and some offering incentives.

Still, tenant advocates argue that landlords are free to raise rent to whatever figure they choose and warn that tenants could see a 200% annual increase in rent. The petition initiative goes on to cite 2007 rent increase numbers — when Calgary was experiencing an unprecedented housing boom.

Affordable housing is a pervasive problem in most major urban markets. It is understandable that tenants are concerned, especially those in vulnerable populations or on fixed incomes. But with an influx of new applicants keeping demand for rental homes high, some long-term tenants inevitably will be squeezed out of prime neighbourhoods. It’s not fair.

Placing the burden of reducing housing costs solely on landlords also is unfair. Tenants may spend 40% or more of their income on rent. Yet there is no push to cap cost increases on items that take up the other 60% — like cell phones and groceries. Governments that enact rent control typically fail to include corresponding provisions that place limits on landlord costs, like repairs, taxes, utilities, unplanned vacancies and property damage due to bad tenants, or costs associated with eviction delays.

The cruel irony is that rent control measures actually may exacerbate the problem. A new study of San Francisco’s rent control measures conducted by Stanford University found that to be the case. In that city, housing supply dropped by 15%, and that resulted in a corresponding city-wide rent increase of 5.1%. Researchers concluded that regulating private landlords was an ineffective way to increase affordable housing options.

In a similar survey commissioned by the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario, research showed as many as 20,000 planned apartment units may be pulled from consideration after lawmakers expanded the province’s strict rent control measures to include new buildings.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew June 20, 2018 at 2:54 am

Ontario has had rent controls for many years. It has decimated the availablity of affordable rental housing here. Virtually no private affordable rental housing has been built in Toronto for many decades.

Yet ontario tenant advocates continue to demand further rent controls, including preventing the rent of a rent controled unit to be brought to market value even when it has been vacated. They demand the rent of that unit must remain far below current market rents and then lament the fact that no private affordable rentals are being built.

Recently rent controls were extened to all private rentals built after 1991. The immediate effect was that tousands of private rentals that were to be built were immediately cancelled. Also, rents on vacant units skyrocketed, as landlords, who once sought long term tenants, now had to charge an initial premium on turnover as the incommming tenants were now far less likely to move, giving no chance to bring rents back to market value. Further to this, small landlords such as myself, now began to give rent increases to existing tenants. Because I know few of my tenants will vacate due to rent controls and I have no opportunity to bring rents back to market and must take even the paltry annual increases the govt allows.

I do not expect alberta tenant advocates will care or heed the resultant rental shortage of rent controls and unfair landlord treatment in ontario. Instead they will demand rent controls and reduced landlord rights. Weak, short sighted, misguided politicians seeking relection will eventually implement controls and erode landlord rights Then both parties will complain about the rental housing shortage.

Andrew June 20, 2018 at 3:05 am

Ontario has had rent controls for many years. Combined with an abundance of landlord hostile regulations and a biased social justice housing tribunal, it has decimated the affordable rental housing market here.

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