NDP Singing a Different Tune in Calgary

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Landlords across Alberta are sharing a collective sigh of relief after learning that the NDP government won’t introduce rent controls. Even in the face of average apartment rents in Calgary rising at nearly three times the rate of inflation, the new government will not limit how much Alberta landlords can raise their rents.

This announcement is in stark contrast to Premier Notley’s stance back in October of 2014 when she remarked that the government should implement a form of temporary rent control. 

In the words of Municipal Affairs Minister Deron Bilous: “I can tell you, quite frankly, that our government is not at this time looking to rent controls…I can tell you in the same breathe that we are focused on working with cities, with municipalities to ensure that we are building more affordable housing units [so that rent goes down].”

Moving forward landlords in the province will be able to raise rent as much as they want, provided that a) the tenant is given three months notice of the increase, and b) rent is only raised once within a 12 month period. 

In April 2015, rent for a two bedroom apartment in Calgary rose to $1,319 (up 5.9 percent from April 2014), making it the second highest average monthly rent in the country, after Vancouver. Core inflation was sitting at 2.15 percent and the vacancy rate grew to 3.2 percent (compared to 1.4 percent a year prior). 

This increase is in part due to the new housing units recently built in the city, according to Gerry Baxter, Executive Director at the Calgary Residential Rental Association. This makes today’s market “a much more favorable market for tenants to shop around in.” He suggested that the “economic slowdown means rents in certain jurisdictions won’t climb,” because the rent climate is so much different than it was just a year ago. 

This isn’t a sentiment shared by all renters however, especially those struggling to find safe and affordable rental accomodation. In a story shared in the Calgary Herald, tenant Amanda Gradippe commented that there needs to be a cap on rent “because at the end of the day there’s so many people struggling to afford rent and food.”. 

What are your thoughts about this latest development? Are you relieved?

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