The manager of a downtown Edmonton apartment building is insistent a $263 rent hike will not force tenants out of their homes.
Dave Martyshuk, of Martyshuk Housing said the hike is long overdue and money is badly needed to pay for repairs and security.
“This is the market rates, you’re not going to find a place any cheaper these days,” he said.
Martyshuk doesn’t own the 1913 MacDonald Lofts building at 10128 105 Avenue, but said the owners who are not in Edmonton don’t want to put anybody on the street.
A letter delivered to tenants on August 10 states; “No one will become homeless as a result of this rent increase.”
Pat Lloyd, who has lived in the building for 11 years isn’t convinced.
“When they increase the rent by $263 they’re taking any wiggle room away from me,” said Lloyd from his studio apartment.
Lloyd’s monthly rent will increase from $562 to $825 on November 1, 2016. He is worried for the other renters and thinks the nearly 32% increase is a way to force tenants out of a prime location.
“That’s totally what I think, there’s no doubt.”
“It’s got nothing to do with that,” said Martyshuk when asked about the new arena.
“This building has been operating at a loss since I took over five years ago.”
Martyshuk said the building was gang-ridden and a hotbed for crime and drugs when he took over. He told Global News a rent cap imposed by the Canada Mortgage Housing Company did not allow rent to be increased by more than two per cent each year, but in less than three months that cap will be lifted.
“That rental cap expires November 1, so the rent hasn’t increased in this building more than $100 in the last 15 years.”
Martyshuk Housing said many of the tenants are “hard-to-house,” and round-the-clock security is needed
“We have to monitor people,” he said, “we have a lot of drug dealers trying to come in.”
In the letter to tenants, Martyshuk Housing stated the current rental rate does not cover maintenance, house keeping, fumigation and supervision.
The company said it will work with tenants to find additional provincial funding.
“We didn’t increase the rents with the idea that these people can’t afford it, we increased the rents knowing we could facilitate some subsidies from them.”
Pat Lloyd, a senior on a pension isn’t sure if any extra income supports will be provided. He isn’t sure if he’ll stay, but is still worried for his neighbours.
“What’s going to happen to them? That’s more or less what bothers me the most.”