Calgary’s rental market is a double-edged sword.
Calgary Buzz talked with Gerry Baxter, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association, to get the inside scoop on the current rental market.
Baxter says it’s a good market for tenants as there are high vacancy rates–much more so than in previous years–offering a better selection of properties to choose from. Conversely, it’s a difficult time to be a landlord, as there is now more competition compared to previous years.
RentFaster.ca reports that this time in 2015 there were over 4,800 listings on the site versus today, when there are 7,297 listings.
The reason we are seeing higher vacancy rates, and more difficult times for landlords, Baxter says, is due to a number of factors.
“One [reason], certainly, is the economy is having a very negative effect on many people who have lost their jobs. Many of those people who have lost their jobs were here from other provinces and many of them have actually returned home, where, perhaps, their prospects where brighter than they are here,” Baxter elaborates.
High vacancies could also be due to the development of new rental product, and there have been new condos Baxter explains. One third of condos in the city are rentals. So between the condos, the new “purpose built” apartment complexes, and the secondary market (i.e. secondary suites), competition is inevitable.
“We’ve actually got a lot of vacancies, so there is a lot of product and fewer people who are looking,” says Baxter. “That pretty much sums up the market.”
Many landlords, from small operations to larger ones, are struggling with the high vacancies. To compensate for this, Baxter says some of the bigger landlords are offering incentives such as utilities, trips, gift cards, flat screens, one month of free rent (with one-year lease), and some have even lowered their rent.
When asked about whether or not it’s appropriate for tenants to ask for lower prices or other perks, Baxter told us: “It really depends on everyone’s situation, if tenants are in a lease they are locked into that lease, but I always say it costs nothing to ask a question.”