A Calgary-based property management company is facing harsh criticism from its tenants in Medicine Hat after hiking their rent.

med hat rent

Rent is going up for hundreds of renters in Medicine Hat after Calgary-based Avenue Living bought numerous buildings in the city. (CBC)

Avenue Living recently acquired about 20 buildings in the southern Alberta city with several hundred apartment suites.

Now the company is boosting rent, in some cases by more than 50 per cent.

Peggy Patterson's rent is going up by $350 to $950 per month. She said her neighbours in the building are distraught by the increase.

"Very upset, like I mean the lady downstairs that I know, she was crying, like you know, I can't afford this,” she said.

"Smarten up, we can't afford it, Medicine Hat is not a rich city."  

Rent hike to pay for upgrades, says company

The company says it needs the revenue to pay for building improvements, higher taxes and utilities.

Under Alberta law, landlords can raise rent by any amount once a year as long as three months’ notice is given.

Robin Miiller, an official with the Medicine Hat Community Housing Society, said she expects more people will be forced to apply for rent subsidies. 

“But we have a limited resource in that area, so we have a certain budget that we’re able to provide those supplements from,” she said.

Medicine Hat has the highest percentage of low wage earners in Alberta, with 13,000 people living in poverty and 1,700 at risk of homelessness, Miiller said.

Earlier this month Medicine Hat made national headlines with its announcement that it was close to effectively ending homelessness in the city thanks to a concerted focus on getting people off the streets.

“It’s going to require some significant partnerships and creativity to help people through, getting to be able to afford these new rents that are coming out,” Miiller said.