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No rent cap in the near future for Albertans: Nixon

Click to play video: 'Alberta renters call for rent control amid spiking prices'
Alberta renters call for rent control amid spiking prices
WATCH: The Alberta government is being called on to implement a cap on rent increases as rental prices across the province jump up to 25 per cent. But as Tomasia DaSilva reports, opponents say a cap will just make things worse. – Mar 22, 2023

The Alberta government is not considering a rent cap for the province, citing affordability concerns.

In an affordable housing newser on Wednesday, Community and Social Services Minister Jeremy Nixon said rent control is not on the government’s radar at all and the province is focused on affordable, low-income housing.

“We’re focused on increasing the supply of affordable housing, to make sure that we have options for Albertans to address the increasing rent prices,” Nixon told reporters.

“I agree that rent is something that should be affordable, but what we’ve seen with rent caps in other jurisdictions is it can have an immediate impact long term and creates long-term challenges.”

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Nixon’s comment comes after Calgary city councillor Kourtney Penner raised the alarm on Tuesday about the rapid increases in rents around the city.

Recent data from Rentals.ca and Rentfaster.ca showed a more than 25 per cent increase in rents for a two-bedroom rental year-over-year in March in Calgary.

One-bedroom units in Calgary also jumped by 23.3 per cent compared to last March. The average rent for a one-bedroom unit is $1,560, while a the average rent for a two-bedroom unit is $1,920.

“That’s an astronomical figure,” Penner told reporters Tuesday.

“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.”

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Calgary renter Vanessa Badger, who has been renting since she was 15, is facing a $200 rent increase after living in her unit for seven years.

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Badger only gets $1500 a month from Alberta Works and will only have $300 left to feed herself and her child after the rent increase.

She told Global News she may find a roommate to split the rental costs.

Click to play video: 'Increasing rental pressure in Alberta’s two largest cities means higher prices and lower vacancy'
Increasing rental pressure in Alberta’s two largest cities means higher prices and lower vacancy

“Two hundred dollars is too much. That’s like a money grab,” she said.

“I understand that everything needs to go up, but I think the landlord should send out something stating their costs, at least.

“When I heard about the increase, I immediately thought of my son’s lunches, my bills and my pets. What am I going to do about that?”

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Maggy Wlodarczyk, a member of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), is calling on the province to implement a two per cent annual rent cap to stop “predatory” landlords from increasing rent.

Alberta is one of a few provinces that doesn’t have any form of rent control. Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Quebec all have some form of rent control for tenants.

“Rent prices have been increasing for the past few years now. People are having a really hard time even staying in the apartments they’ve been living in for years, especially with the rise of other cost-of-living expenses,” Wlodarczyk told Global News.

Click to play video: 'University of Calgary dealing with student housing shortage'
University of Calgary dealing with student housing shortage

Wlodarczyk hopes that rent control will be an important issue in the upcoming provincial election, which is scheduled to happen in May. ACORN will continue to bring rental issues to election platforms, she said.

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“We’re not saying that they can’t increase rent at all. We’re asking for a two per cent cap on the rental increase,” Wlodarczyk added.

But Gerry Baxter, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association, said while he understands that people aren’t happy about rent increases, rent control may have “unintended consequences” for renters.

Baxter alleges the supply of affordable housing will be negatively affected because it will stop construction.

Many people will also be squeezed out of affordable units because renters will not want to move from their apartments or houses, he said.

“People stay put more often in rent-controlled environments… If you’ve got people who are looking for (affordable housing), they can’t get in and they end up having to go somewhere where they’re going to pay higher rents,” Baxter told Global News.

“Now we’ve got less supply and vacancies have decreased even more.

“The best alternative to helping people who have affordability issues is to provide them with rent subsidies or portable housing allowances.”

Click to play video: 'Could ‘vacancy control’ help solve B.C.’s housing crisis?'
Could ‘vacancy control’ help solve B.C.’s housing crisis?

Baxter also said rent control negatively affect small landlords because of the rising mortgage and maintenance costs. A lot of small landlords are not making a profit out of the rent they charge, he said.

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“I can tell you small landlords have been suffering since the recession started in 2015. We have been suffering and we suffered through the recession,” Baxter said.

“Landlords want to see people thrive, and if you’re looking to create affordable, strong and inclusive communities, we need to ensure that all Canadians have a broad range of housing options.”

–With files from Adam Toy, Global News

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