More Calgarians call for cap on rent increases

Downtown Calgary apartments buildings are pictured on Sept. 15, 2022. Global News

A Calgary city councillor is raising the alarm on rapid increases in rents around the city.

Pointing to recent data from and showing a more than 25 per cent increase in rents for a two-bedroom rental year over year in March.

“That’s an astronomical figure,” Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said.

“We are getting emails from residents — their rent is going up anywhere from $300 to $600 a month. That is high and well above the cost of inflation, even with rising interest rates.”

According to the national rent rankings compiled by, one-bedroom rentals in Calgary also jumped, by 23.3 per cent compared to last March. Average rent for a one-bedroom unit is $1,560 and $1,920 for a two-bedroom unit.

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While the city on the Bow River doesn’t have the highest average rental prices for one- and two-bedroom units in the country — Vancouver and Toronto sit at the top of that list — the year-over-year jumps are among the highest nationwide.

Edmonton rents jumped by 5.5 per cent for one-bedrooms and 10.7 per cent for two-bedrooms, the national rent rankings show.

Penner said calls to the city’s affordable housing providers has jumped threefold, from an average of 200 per month to 600.

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The Ward 11 representative is calling for a cap on rent increases, something only the province can put in place.

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“What can the city do about it? Unfortunately, the short answer is nothing,” Penner said.

“Housing affordability needs to be tackled from many angles which includes policy, not just market drivers,” she posted on Twitter.

“I would actually encourage all Calgarians to think about this as an election issue.”

An Alberta government representative pointed to the structures within the Residential Tenancy Act.

“The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) strikes a balance between maintaining a stable rental market and ensuring Albertans can find housing to meet their needs and budgets,” Jared Gustafson, press secretary to Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction Dale Nally, said in a statement.

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge 1-bedroom apartment rent up 17.5% year-over-year: report'
Lethbridge 1-bedroom apartment rent up 17.5% year-over-year: report

“The RTA prohibits rent increases during a fixed-term lease, limiting rent increases during a periodic tenancy to once every 365 calendar days, and setting notice requirements for rent increases. This provides a period of stable rent for tenants.”

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But Alberta’s legislation does not cover maximum year-over-year increases, as other jurisdictions have done in the past.

The province pointed to other affordability measures recently put in place.

“Alberta’s government is delivering timely, effective cost-of-living supports and inflation relief to Albertans through a $2.8 billion Affordability Action Plan. We have expanded utility rebates, established electricity price protection over the winter, indexed personal income tax retroactive for the 2022 tax year, and suspended the provincial fuel tax. Additionally, we are delivering targeted relief payments to seniors, families, and vulnerable Albertans,” Gustafson added.

Critics have pointed out that childless Albertans aren’t eligible for the relief payments and not all apartment buildings are eligible for the utility rebates. Some rebates, like the natural gas rebate, haven’t even taken effect.

Service Alberta noted Albertans can apply for help with their rent through the Temporary Rent Assistance Benefit or Rent Supplement Program.

Tenant union calls for two per cent annual cap

A local tenant union is planning a protest at the office of the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) on Wednesday to push for rent control.

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ACORN Calgary called the double-digit rent increases “unacceptable.”

“The lack of protections for tenants is forcing more people than ever before to struggle to keep a roof over their heads,” Fable Dowling said in a statement.

“We are your neighbours, friends and family members. We are new families, single parents, students, and seniors. The province of Alberta must protect us by enacting rent control now.”

ACORN is calling for annual rent increases to be capped at two per cent. They also want a provincial rental registry to help the government get a better understanding of changes in rents with an eye to improve policies and regulations.

The tenant union also pointed to the attendance of RTDRS director Patricia Tolppanen as keynote speaker at a recent Calgary Residential Rental Association event shows “many tenants feel that the RTDRS does not have tenants’ best interest in mind.”


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