Rental Reservations

With literally hundreds of rental units taken off the market in the wake of the recent flooding, Calgary renters could find themselves facing serious issues.

Following a pre-flood report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) showing the city’s vacancy rate fell to just 1.2 per cent in April, many prospective renters are facing a virtually nonexistent market.

“After the flood, I can’t imagine competing for an even smaller pool of properties with a much larger group of people,” said Katie Turner, who along with her boyfriend James Paton had been renting an apartment in the community of Mission.

Home to a large number of Calgary renters, many in Mission have since been displaced in the community, as many apartment buildings suffered damage when floodwaters inundated lower levels.

Turner’s building, a 12-unit complex on Second St. S.W. suffered damage to the boiler and electrical system. Following the flooding, Turner and Paton, along with the rest of the building’s inhabitants, were told to find alternate accommodations, and according to Turner, not much else.

“We’ve been told very little,” she said. “It feels like we’ve been kept in the dark, literally, for the past two weeks. What we know is the boiler is gone as is the electrical system in the building and it’s going to take months to repair.”

For now, the couple is planning on staying with family for the next three months before leaving on a preplanned trip.

“I’m so glad we don’t have to look for another place. It was difficult enough finding a place we loved in our price range when we moved in two years ago,” said Turner.

According to CMHC, the average rent for the average two-bedroom apartment in Calgary was $1,202 per month in April, an increase of 7.2 per cent over the same month in 2012.

While rents in the city are on the rise, the number of available units has been on the decline, even before taking into account those units lost to flood damage. Despite the city’s increase in population, which rose by nearly 30,000 residents between April 2011 and April 2012, the total number of rental units in the city has dropped from 34,814 in 2011 to 34,212 in 2012.

As for the impact of the city’s tightening rental market on the housing market as a whole, CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie said the crunch may have many repercussions.

“The rental market is already tight so there are several potential impacts, people who were renting and were thinking about purchasing may make this move sooner than expected driving up demand for the already tight resale market,” she said. “Those who were considering selling may choose to rent instead. There is likely to be a rise in secondary suite rentals.”

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