Targeting tenants

Challenges continue for Calgary’s rental market

“Very cautious optimism” is how Gerry Baxter, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association, describes the industry’s view of Calgary’s current rental landscape.

While Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) pegged Calgary’s rental vacancy rate at seven per cent last fall – the highest it’s been in more than 25 years – Baxter says he thinks residential vacancies in the city are actually closer to the eight-to-10-per-cent range.

“There’s been some slight improvement in the rental market over the last few weeks, but it’s still a challenge to rent,” said Baxter, attributing the slack rental market to the economic downturn that started in late 2014 and early 2015.

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A cut above

In Calgary’s competitive rental market, homeowners looking to make a few extra bucks must set themselves apart

Short-term home renting has been going on for decades, but has now become an entrenched part of the economy, and a popular way to generate a bit of extra income, thanks to rental services and facilitators, such as Airbnb, VRBO, Kijiji and property management companies.

When Angela Casale lost a long-term tenant in the Ramsay property where she runs a wellness clinic on the lower floor and has a rental unit upstairs, it meant adjusting to Calgary’s competitive rental market.

“There are no renters to be had. Apartment buildings are giving people three free months and TVs and all kinds of things,” said Casale.

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Rinse and repeat

Housing experts predict Calgary’s rental market to see another year of high vacancies, low rents

Calgary’s rental housing market this year will not change much from 2016 as historically high vacancy rates will continue to usher in incentives and lower rents, say experts.

“We expect the vacancy rate to remain close to 2016 levels” said Richard Cho, Calgary-based principal market analyst for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

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Renters’ market

Economic conditions create ideal situation for renters, challenges for landlords

In the most volatile economy in the country, it is no big surprise Calgary landlords endured 2016 with the highest rental housing vacancy rate in a quarter of a century.

“It is a free market economy, with all the ups and downs, and in the middle of (this downturn), you just hope many will survive it,” said Gerry Baxter, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association (CRRA) of Calgary’s current seven per cent vacancy rate.

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Renters’ paradise

Over-supply, fewer newcomers behind increasing vacancy rates

Vacancy rates in Calgary have spiked so far this year and are expected to rise for the foreseeable future, say industry insiders.

And with few signs of significant changes in the economy on the horizon, renters will enjoy plenty of choice and price flexibility, while landlords will need to get aggressive.

“Vacancy started rising pretty rapidly after the spring of last year and it’s still been rising,” said Gerry Baxter, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association, which has about 850 members, representing between 65,000 and 70,000 rental units. There are more than 700 landlords in the association.

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