Mayor Naheed Nenshi is a great mayor. The majority of Calgarians think so. He’s a responsive and witty guy, and clearly he’s doing something right. I’m personally quite fond of him too – especially with some of these gems on Twitter.
Last week, he propped himself up on the soapbox to talk about Calgary’s landlords (“too many landlords” to be specific), and how they’re screwing tenants and gouging them on rent. There are some alarming rent increases going on in the city. To put this into perspective, one needs to consider a few things.
In July of this year, the CMHC indicated that Calgary has one of the lowest vacancy rates of any major city in the country. That rate is 1.4 percent. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is just over $1,130 per month. An average two-bedroom apartment goes for just under $1,300 per month. Alberta’s provincial residential tenancies act doesn’t limit how much landlords can raise rents, but they have to give three months’ notice for monthly renters and they can only do it once per year. If you’re a tenant on a year long lease, you wouldn’t see a rent increase inside of the year of your lease. Here’s a few other facts about Calgary as well…
25,000 people a year are moving to Calgary. You heard that right. The city’s population is surging. Property taxes and utilities have also increased in the city, not to mention other municipal and residential costs for residents – both landlords and tenants.
On Friday, Mayor Nenshi clarified that his statement on rent gouging was largely based anecdotal evidence and not, in fact, a systemic problem.
“What I’m calling for is ethical business more than anything else. If you’re a landlord and your costs have gone up … then of course you pass that on to your tenant. That’s part of your business. But every day I get calls in my office from people who have been given no notice, a month’s notice, of 30, 40 per cent increases in their rent,” Nenshi added. “And nobody’s costs have gone up that much.”
Nenshi’s comments drew the ire of Gerry Baxter, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association, who considered the comment an inaccurate characterization of the majority of Calgary’s landlords.
What do you think? Do you live in Calgary? Are you a tenant or landlord? Do you think it’s the city’s responsibility to provide more affordable housing? Do you think that Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act should change to cap increases that landlords can impose? Share your thoughts with us!