Update Dec 2014 – Landlords Being Made Scapegoats in Calgary
Update Dec 2014  – Landlords Being Made Scapegoats in Calgary

(Updated Dec 11, 2014)

Well Done All!

It is true, your voice is being heard at Calgary City Council… but only by a few.  Mayor Nenshi is definitely on the side of getting a Secondary Suite Bylaw in place sooner rather than later, a few council members are beginning to see the light, but there are still a few holdouts.  Despite them hearing each and every “Secondary Suite Application” in Council chambers and them discovering it isn’t just a bunch of ‘profit mongers’ as one of them privately called landlords in Calgary.

They are hearing from homeowners who need help affording to stay in their homes and a secondary suite is their option… they are hearing real life citizens brought to tears because of the way this whole process has been handled. It is no longer just a political football, this has become a real life issue hitting real life citizens (READ: Voters).

But work isn’t done.  Monday’s Calgary Council meeting is critical for all advocates of affordable safe rental housing in the city.  Here’s why:

On Monday December 15, 2014 City Council will debate a motion to begin the process for the drafting of a bylaw to make the legalization of secondary suites a reality in 2015. Without approval, all of our collective advocacy with our City Council will have been for naught. Thus we would like to have a strong showing in Council Chambers on Monday December 15, 2014.

This is the best opportunity in several years to make it easier for Calgarians to build safe and legal secondary suites. The vote will be very close. This crucial reform will not happen without your help.


We hope that you are able to come to the Council meeting. It is difficult to estimate the time but we would anticipate that Council will get to the item between 9:45am—11am.

If you are unable to attend, and haven’t done so already, please take a moment today to add your name to the supporter list before this crucial vote.

Add your name now here: http://www.suiteyyc.ca/take_action…

Thank you for your ongoing support on the legalization of secondary suites and addition of affordable housing.

So please sign the petition, attend the meeting, make this a real life issue.  This can no longer be kicked around like a political football

<<< Below is the Blog Post I Wrote in October when Landlords were being attacked and blamed for high rents in Calgary>>>

Enough is Enough!

Mayor Nenshi, I am a big fan and supporter however: enough is enough.  Those of us who are legitimate landlords who provide rental housing options to great tenants have had enough of the politicking, the excuses and NOW being made the political scapegoat for lack of affordable rental suites.

Sure we weathered the downturn in rents and property values coupled with increases in vacancy rates in 2008, without going to the media asking for help from the government.  We understand that Calgary is a cyclical city economically and in the real estate market. Any restrictive legislation on the upside MUST also have a restriction on the downside (which in literally impossible in a free market).

Sure we all quietly kicked in to help our neighbours and tenants post flood (as did many Calgarians)  In fact, a large number of our landlord community drove down from Edmonton, Red Deer & BC to kick in to help with the clean-up.

Sure we have watched as Calgary city politicians continue to play politics with housing options new migrants to our city by continuing to mis-understand the vitally important role that secondary suites play in EVERY rapidly growing city. When you limit the number of rental units in a city WHILE its population is growing in leaps and bounds your ARE destroying any potential supply & demand balance the marketplace could create. In fact, it is almost like they have made being a renter a dirty word.

Sure there are BAD landlords. Just as you find bad in any industry (politicians, renters, retailers, home-builders etc), there will always be people who take advantage of their position. But that is NOT an excuse to push all of them under the bus.

A Look At What’s Real

Let’s look a just one slice of reality to help counter all of the Rent Gouging anti-landlord vitriol (now even coming from the Mayor): Rents would NOT be increasing as quickly as they are if

  1. A realistic and reality-based Safe Secondary Suite Legislation, which could have been put in place 4 years ago, actually passed. This would have allowed the market to respond more rapidly not just to the massive in-migration we are witnessing in Calgary, but also to post flood housing options. Every city and city planner in the world understands that actual affordable rental specific buildings can’t and won’t be built quick enough to take pressure off of vacancy rates in a city that is growing at the rate of Calgary. And that is why cities in other jurisdictions (and even a BIG one north of us called Edmonton) use Secondary Suites as a quick and safe way to provide affordable rentals.  It is the POLITICS behind this legislation that is helping to drive rents up in Calgary.
  2. If the City allowed the Grandfathered suites that existed in many older neighbourhoods for decades (Bowness for instance) to be rebuilt after the Great Flood, we wouldn’t have so many stressed renters in the city.  This would have been a VERY simple policy to continue given the track record of those suites already. Sadly when attempting to rebuild after the flood, many homeowners are losing their ability to provide these suites to the market, thus hurting renters AND the homeowners.
  3. I guess we could wish for a terrible economy like they are enjoying elsewhere in the country and globe. That way we wouldn’t be the the nation’s leading economy and housing market. That would definitely shift the rental market in a hurry. But this is NOT occurring. What is occurring is great news. We are are proudly in an economic leadership position that does NOT allow us to live in ‘theory’, ‘what ifs’ or ‘politicking’.  Right now is right now, we do not have the ‘time’ that other cities have (because they aren’t growing).  We need to make decisions that deal with today’s issues, not based on a big grand theory, but based in ‘How do we address these issues now?’
  4. In reality, rents wouldn’t be so high if the property values weren’t so high and heading upwards at a nation leading pace. There are a large number of  affordable rental suites in cities who’s markets and economies are lagging, some who’s rents are decreasing. But of course there are limited job opportunities. And that is why they are considered “affordable,” people are leaving there to come HERE. Higher real estate values lead to higher rents, just like higher ‘input costs’ to a manufacturing firm lead to a higher cost end product. This is not going to end soon here is an article explaining the reasons why Is Calgary’s Market At Peak, Or Just Getting Started?

Reality Check

The truth is the majority of landlords are NOT gouging (gouging means charging substantially over market). It is time for landlords to NOT be made the scapegoat.  There are many and varied reasons why ‘street-rents’ are moving up so quickly.  And many of these factors should NOT come as a surprise to anyone who understands Calgary, its economy and the cycles it inevitably goes through.

We have some of the best home-builders in North America right here in our city, they are working full out to help relieve some of the pressure. But give them, as well as current home-owners and landlords clear guidelines to creating secondary suites (why not just copy the best parts of other city’s policy so we aren’t starting from scratch) in their properties and you would see the upward pressure on rents begin to be relieved.

We are all in this together, and by singling out one group (landlords) as the root of the problem is just a deflective and defensive measure.  And frankly not up at the world-class level that we all hoped Calgary was playing at.

I am a big fan of Calgary and we all need to work together (not in separate silos) to make it and keep it world-class.

Don R Campbell

Senior Analyst
Real Estate Investment Network
Twitter @DonRCampbell


Update Dec 2014 – Landlords Being Made Scapegoats in Calgary was last modified: December 12th, 2014 by Don R. Campbell

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