December 15, 2013
Is rent control coming to Alberta? According to an editorial in the Whitecourt Star it should be.
Rent control is when the government caps the amount of rent a landlord can charge. The Star believes it’s the solution to the low vacancy rate in Alberta.
Low Vacancy Rate
The vacancy rate is, in fact, very low and tenants are scrambling to find rental apartments.
According to the Canada Housing and Mortage Corp. (CMHC) not only are vacancy rates in Alberta decline, rents are also rising.
The Whitecourt Star’s Argument for Rent Control in Alberta
The Star sent a reporter to look into the rental market in Whitecourt in 2012.
The reporter found there were a lot of tenants in the city looking for rental housing. The report stated there were not enough affordable rental units available and there was a long list of tenants waiting to find a place to rent “at any price.”
The Star editorial stated the Alberta economy was booming and more workers were coming to the province. Despite these jobs there are thousands of homeless living on the street because Calgary and Edmonton landlords won’t rent to them.
While investors and landlords have the right to profit from their rental businesses the Star argues people have the right to a place to live.
According to the Whitecourt Star ‘rent control’ is a way the government “can make this happen.
Rent Control Doesn’t Mean More Affordable Rental Units
The Whitecourt Star argument is wrong. Rent control doesn’t equal more affordable housing.
Other Canadian provinces have rent control
For example, British Columbia landlords can only increase the rent by 2.2% in 2014. Yet tenants there are still complaining rents are too high and something needs to be done.
And even better example is Ontario.
In 2014 Ontario Landlords can only raise the rent a measly 0.8% for their current tenants.
While the Ontario Rent Increase Guideline is tied to the CPI Index rent increases are ‘capped’ at a maximum of 2.5% no matter how high inflation gets.
With rent control and rent increases capped there should be a ton of rental available and rents should be low.
Except there isn’t.
With so much government control many investors simply avoid investing in residential rental property in Ontario.
The vacancy rates in Ontario are nearly as low as in Alberta.
Rent Control Is Not the Answer
Alberta landlords already know rent control is not the way forward for Alberta.
Anyone can see from what is happening in British Columbia and Ontario that rent control only hurts tenants.
We hope the Whitecourt Star editorial board thinks more carefully next time.