Alberta moves to protect tenants, won't curb rents
The Alberta government is changing some of the rules governing rent hikes, but won't go as far as implementing rent control, Housing Minister Ray Danyluk announced Tuesday.
Under changes to be introduced in the legislature, landlords will only be allowed to increase rents only once a year instead of twice.
And landlords wanting to kick a tenant out to do major renovations or convert a rental to a condominium will have to give at least one year's notice and won't be allowed to increase the rent during that time.
Even though there is no cap on what the rentincrease can be, Danyluk saidhe isn't worried that renters will get gouged.
"I don't believe that it's going to jack up the price, but it gives some stability for the renter to know that he does have stability for an extended period of time."
By 2010, the provincial government will also introduce a province-wide program to help landlords and tenants resolve disputes outside court, Danyluk said.
Earlier this year, Premier Ed Stelmach struck an affordable housing task force to consult with the public and advise the government on what to do about the soaring housing prices and falling vacancy rates in Alberta.
Edmonton NDP MLA Ray Martin, who sat on the task force, said Tuesday that alarge number of the recommendations were rejected, includinga call for a cap on rent increases over two years.
"The premier seems to think having task forces is action," he said. "Unless you take that seriously, what's the point of having task forces?"
Alberta promising 11,000 affordable units
The province is hoping provincial funding and partnerships with other governments and organizations will create more than11,000 new affordable housing units over the next five years, Danyluksaid.
Among the funding announced Tuesday:
- A new Municipal Sustainability Housing Program funded by $100 million a year for three years.
- $45 million for 300 affordable housing units in Fort McMurray.
- A new $7 million fund to assist people at risk of losing accommodations due to rent increase and newcomers "who may need temporary assistance until their first paycheque arrives."
- An extra $16 million for initiatives that help the homeless.
Liberal housing critic Dave Taylor said the money being invested in housing is substantial, but he would have liked to see more done to prevent apartments from being converted to condos.
"I believe when you're dealing with a vacancy rate of 1.7 per cent or less —or [less than] one per cent in my constituency in Calgary —you need a moratorium on condo conversions until you can add supply to the system."
Martin says he would have particularly liked to see more money invested in transitional housing, to try to get people out of shelters and into their own homes.