EDMONTON – Are you having trouble finding a place to rent in Edmonton? Well, it appears you’re not alone.
“It’s been so frustrating,” said Mike Enders, who moved back to Edmonton from Vancouver last December.
“Unfortunately, it’s been a year – 12 months – and apartments are really hard to come by. There’s wait lists on most of them,” he said adding, “rent can be challenging just because of the cost.”
Enders has been living with family for the past year while searching for a suitable place that’s also reasonably priced. But he says the search hasn’t been easy.
“I found one with bed bugs that had just been in the apartments and they were cleaning them out and, unfortunately, there were still some suites with bed bugs. And they still wanted, actually, $1,300 a month for a one-bedroom.”
Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Edmonton has increased 5.6 per cent since last October. The average rent now sits at $1,141 per month.
Having lived in Vancouver for the past 20 years, Enders says he’s used to paying a higher price for rent.
“But at the same time, for Edmonton, the costs are pretty high because they want to match the price, of say, a Vancouver apartment. And I don’t think that’s right.”
On the other end of the rental scale, you have property managers. Linda Raymond with Highstreet Ventures, a real estate development company focused on new rental apartments, says the company’s latest development will be opening up in northeast Edmonton in March.
“We have 160 units,” she said. “I expect to be completely overwhelmed. The rental market’s insane in Edmonton. It’s very, very tight.”
The latest statistics from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) shows the vacancy rate in Edmonton is sitting at 1.4 per cent, compared to 1.7 per cent in October, 2012.
When it comes to apartment vacancy rates in major cities across Canada, the only city with a lower vacancy rate than Edmonton is Calgary, which has a vacancy rate of one per cent. (See page two of the report posted below)
The CMHC says employment growth and elevated levels of migration have supported increased rental demand in 2013, contributing to the decline in vacancy.
And with the demand so high, when new buildings go up in this market, it isn’t cheap.
“When you build 160 units we have labour and building supplies and a fantastic construction company that works with us and so, you have to cover your costs,” Raymond said.
However, she says property managers also have to take their market into consideration, and it’s important “that you are not putting your product out of the reach of the people that you’re trying to build a community with.”
“I think that there are a lot of landlords that are gouging in this market. And I think there needs to be a fair market price. And people need to be able to have a home,” Raymond explained. “When you’re making $12 to $15 an hour, I can’t charge $2,000 for rent. It’s just not attainable.”
Highstreet Ventures’ building, located at 162 Avenue and 51 Street, will house mostly two-bedroom suites, at a price of $1,250 to $1,495 per month, depending on layout, size and location.
“There has to be some justification. We have a brand new building- I can stand behind my rent, I know what my tenants are getting. But when I hear the horror stories… it breaks my heart,” Raymond said. “People shouldn’t be living in substandard living conditions because a landlord wants a paycheque.”
Meanwhile, Enders says he’ll continue his search, in hopes of soon finding a place to live in the city.
“You’ve got the keep optimistic, you’ve got to keep positive and keep putting your name out there.”
Apartments with three or more bedrooms saw the largest jump in rent in the past year, up six per cent from last October.
The CMHC’s rental market report for Edmonton, released fall 2013, has been posted below:
With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.