Mayor Must Find Solution to Vacancy Rate

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RentClick.ca urges City of Calgary and Mayor Naheed Nenshi to allow more secondary suites to alleviate pressure on Calgary rentals market.

We need to be able to move to a world where these suites are safe and regulated and an important part of the housing solution.

The City of Calgary must move forward with its plan to legalize secondary suites, if only to lessen pressure on the market for Calgary apartments for rent.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi appeared on CTV recently in a year-end interview, saying he keeps a ‘tenable resolution’ to the secondary suites issue as an important goal.

“It’s a moral and ethical issue. We are allowing some 30,000 to 50,000 to 60,000 — no one knows the real number — of our neighbours to live outside the protection of the law,” Nenshi said. “So if your landlord is abusing you, if there’s no heat, if there’s mould, if the smoke detectors don’t work, if there are mice, you have nothing and no one can help you. And to me that’s untenable.

“We need to be able to move to a world where these suites are safe and regulated and an important part of the housing solution.”

Rent Click's spokesman David Trinh agrees, but asserts the pressure recent vacancy rates have put on the market for Calgary homes for rent means city council must move swiftly, not just appropriately.

“We know two very important things: that people are still moving to Calgary in great numbers because of the better-than-average job market and that the federal government is making it more difficult to get a mortgage,” Trinh said.

“But these people need access to adequate — and affordable — housing. They want to rent and yet the vacancy rate for Calgary was down to 1.3 per cent in October. There are fewer places to rent and what’s left is getting more expensive.”

A recent Calgary Real Estate Board blog post revealed that a Calgary Housing Company poll found 84 per cent of Calgarians support the development of new secondary suites, a push that allows home owners to rent out suites within their own homes.

In Calgary, secondary suites are only permitted in RC2 zones and mostly prohibited in RC1 zones. Last March, a council vote for relaxation on the rules governing secondary suites was defeated by council.

“We urge Nenshi to not give up on the secondary-suites issue,” Trinh said. “Most major cities in Canada, including Edmonton and Vancouver, have adjusted their bylaws to allow secondary suites. Things are working out just fine for them.

“Secondary suites help provide housing options for students, young professionals, new residents and people who don’t want to be tied to a mortgage.

With an estimated 10,000 to 50,000 illegal and unregulated suites in houses across Calgary, Nenshi has proposed in the past three conditions: the suite has to be up to code, off-street parking must be available, and the homeowner has to live in the house.

The trouble with most ‘illegal’ suites, says Trinh is that it is impractical to comply with all of the proposed new rules. For instance, it can be unreasonable to expect a homeowner to live in their investment property as many landlords own multiple properties.

“We’d like to see the city have a consultation round with landlords before moving to another proposal stage,” Trinh says. “Their feedback is vital before any big changes are made, especially since they’re the ones incurring the costs and following the bylaws.”

About RentClick.ca

RentClick.ca connects landlords and property managers who have rental properties to tenants who need to rent accommodations. We are a group comprised of renters and property owners, giving us a unique understanding of tenant and landlord needs. RentClick.ca advertises property rentals in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

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