The provincial government says it will not implement a system of rent control in Saskatchewan, when asked at the legislature about the plight of a group of tenants in Regina who received notices of steep rent hikes.

The residents of an apartment building on Robinson Street were given notices of rent hikes, to take effect in six months, that average around 77 per cent.

Opposition NDP members of the legislature raised the issue Tuesday.

"Will the minister do the right thing and institute rent control to stop gouging renters here in Saskatchewan?" David Forbes asked the province's minister of justice.

However, the minister said rent controls can have negative consequences.

"We believe that it's a disincentive to improving properties," Gord Wyant said. "it's a disincentive to the establishment and for the building of new rental accommodations and we've seen that across the province and we've seen that across the country."

Wyant added that he believes most rent increases have been around three to four per cent.

Wyant offered to meet with the affected tenants personally and has also set up a meeting for them with the rentalsman's office.

Pat Colpitts, a senior who has lived in the building on the 2200 block of Robinson Street for nine years, says the rent on her small two bedroom apartment is $675, but come Sept. 1 it will jump to $1,195.

"Totally shocked," Colpitts said of the increase. "We knew there would be an increase because it's new owners, but we weren't expecting $520. Maybe $100, maybe $200. But that's it for me. I'll be moving out, there's no ifs, ands or buts."

CBC News contacted the Regina management company that has been taking care of the building and was told the owner is Castle Mountain Properties, based in Calgary.

According to the management company, the hikes affecting the Robinson Street property are the highest they have seen.

Kathy Berner, of Regency Property Management, said they look after about 800 suites in the city and in the past have only seen gradual increases in rents with the highest being around 10 to 15 per cent.

Berner said the biggest increases in Regina took place in 2007 and 2008.

CBC News placed calls to the Calgary owners of the building but had not heard back from anyone as of Tuesday afternoon.

According to Wyant, Castle Mountain Properties gave the proper six months notice for the increase.

Landlords who belong to the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Industry Association have to give six months notice of rent increases. Other landlords have to give 12 months notice.

 

With files from CBC's Kent Morrison and The Canadian Press