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Calgary rental housing market rebounds from recession’s lows

The rental housing market in the Calgary census metropolitan area (CMA) looked very different in October 2018 than it did in October 2017, showing a year-over-year decline in overall vacancy rates in the primary rental market from 6.3 percent to 3.9 percent, according to the annual Rental Market Report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

The decline comes despite an increase in the rental supply and can be attributed for the most part to new arrivals to the CMA.

“A resurgence of migration, particularly from interprovincial sources, has increased the demand for rental units, resulting in significantly lower vacancy rates and rising rents in Calgary,” says James Cuddy, senior analyst, economics at CMHC. “This is the second consecutive year of declining vacancy rates, representing a significant tightening of the rental market. Supply in the primary rental market continued to post strong gains in 2018, growing by 3.7 percent.”

In the report, Cuddy says the purpose-built rental apartment universe increased by 1,407 units from 38,160 in October 2017 to 39,567 in October 2018, however, “demand outpaced supply whereby 2,268 additional units were occupied in October 2018 compared to last year.”

From January to October, 8,200 jobs were added to the Calgary CMA, an increase of one percent from the same period in 2017, says Cuddy.

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Continued sluggishness in economy benefiting Calgary’s rental market, study suggests

Renters beware. Finding a new rental in the city is becoming more challenging, and that’s largely due to the ongoing struggles of the provincial economy.

A recent quarterly report by Urban Analytics that tracks the new multi-family market in the city for both rentals and condominiums points to tightening rental conditions in Calgary.

“Right now we’re seeing 95 per cent occupancy in Calgary’s new, purpose-built rental market,” says Kimberly Poffenroth, business development manager with Urban Analytics.

From the renter’s perspective that’s a five per cent vacancy rate among purpose-built, multi-family rentals constructed in the past six years.

The vacancy rate, however, is flat from the second quarter that ended in June 30, but it’s higher than the first quarter of 2018 and the last quarter of 2017. Despite the tightening conditions, rental rates — what tenants pay — fell by 2.1 per cent in the third quarter (July 1 to Sept. 30) from the previous quarter. In dollar terms, the average square foot rent fell from $1.96 in the second quarter to $1.92 in Q3. By contrast, the average price in the last quarter of 2017 was $1.82 per square foot. Rates remained highest in the city centre where supply is short while on the edges of the city, renters have more choice, especially when it comes to wood-frame rentals and townhomes. Consequently rents in these areas tend to be lower.

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Rent expected to go up by 4% in Calgary this year: report

Despite being in an economic downturn, renters in Calgary can expect to be handing more money over to their landlords this year.

According to a new report from, the average rent in Calgary is set to increase by four per cent in 2019.

“You’d think there’d be a correlation — if home prices are declining, that we’d see maybe the decline in rent rates as well,” the site’s CEO Matt Danison said.

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Calgary’s rental market stages a comeback

Calgary’s rental market appears to be experiencing a comeback after a years-long slump, with new data showing the vacancy rate has fallen for a second straight year, while average rents have risen for the first time since the recession.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported 1,400 new rentals were built in Calgary over the past year, bringing the total stock to almost 40,000 units.

But a surge in demand for apartments was far stronger than the growth in supply. The CMHC said Calgary’s vacancy rate dropped to 3.9 per cent in October, down from 6.3 per cent a year earlier.

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What Calgary renters need to know when pot is legal

‘Just because it is legal doesn’t dictate where you can use it,’ landlord association warns

When cannabis becomes legal on Oct. 17, many people who rent their homes will not be allowed to smoke or grow it there. A huge property management group, Boardwalk, sent a notice to tenants recently saying it was banned in their units.

The Calgary Residential Rental Association represents about 70 per cent of the city’s rental properties. Its executive director Gerry Baxter spoke to The Homestretch on this hot topic this week.

This interview has been edited and paraphrased for clarity and length. You can listen to the complete interview right here.

Q: How significant is this news for renters?

A: The feedback I have from landlords is that the majority of tenants are supportive of their actions.

Many of them right now have no-smoking policies in the building so they will just add cannabis to that. There will be no smoking. There will still be some buildings that allow smoking.

It will be up to those landlords to determine if they make any changes relative to adding cannabis.

Q: What percentage of your members allow tobacco smoking in their buildings right now?

A: We haven’t gauged that. My guess would be at least half.

Q: Do you have to change tenant agreements for when the law changes?

A: We did, in consultation with our members. Our members are really fearful about this new legislation, because right now, many of them don’t allow smoking on the property, or if they do, some tenants will smoke marijuana.

In other cases, we know over the years people have smoked marijuana, illegally, but they’ve smoked it.

It’s a source of complaint that landlords received from other tenants. While it’s OK for somebody to smoke who enjoys it, quite often they are interfering with the rights of other tenants, to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes as well.

Q: What about medicinal cannabis, how are those users affected by these changes?

A: We haven’t spoken specifically in our lease amendments to medicinal cannabis, so there is nothing to prevent people from smoking it or growing it, but if the landlord has a prohibition against that, those tenants may have to find someplace else to grow or to smoke it.

That certificate entitles you to smoke it or grow it, but it doesn’t say where.

Q: You held a seminar on cannabis questions last December and more than 200 members came. What were some of their concerns?

A: The big concern is, “Will this lead to an increase in what is already happening illegally now.” That’s a huge concern.

One landlord said to me the other day, “I have a designated smoking area on my property, but some people smoke marijuana there and that smell drifts into open doors and windows of other units and then I get complaints from those tenants.”

So the biggest concern is that landlords might field more complaints if tenants are allowed to smoke it once it’s legal in their units.

Then there’s the growing. The legislation permits people to grow four plants.

The concern is, will four be enough for some people or does it turn into a small grow-op?

You also need more powerful lighting systems that the building’s electrical system may not be equipped to handle and you have the danger of potential fire.

The humidity tends to create mould. Then there are the insurance issues.

Are there going to be insurance companies that will cover the damage caused by the growing of marijuana? I understand the insurance industry is looking at it. That may not satisfy landlords.

Q: Has it been specifically written into the revised tenant agreements that you cannot grow marijuana?

A: Yes. There is no producing of cannabis or any of its products or derivatives.

Q: How would they be different than houseplants, as far as agreements go?

A: To grow marijuana you need a lighting system with powerful bulbs generating high heat and a good watering system.

Q: Are you concerned about potential legal action from people who want to smoke it?

A: Just because it is legal, doesn’t dictate where you can use it.

Calgary has banned it in public places. There is no difference. This is not the tenant’s property, they don’t own the building.

Q: What if someone smokes it in their unit, what can the landlord do?

A: It will be a contractual issue based on what is in the tenancy agreement. Landlords could take steps to terminate that tenancy.