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Why high interest rates were a problem for '80s renters, too

It didn't matter if you owned a home or not -- high interest rates were a pain for everybody in the early 1980s.

They didn't have mortgages, but their landlords did

In 1980, interest rates were going up, as were apartment rental prices. 2:10

It didn't matter if you owned a home or not -- high interest rates were a pain for everybody.

Forty years ago, The National was looking at why those higher interest rates were costing those who rented apartments more money.

"Like everything else, apartment rents keep going up and nowhere has that been more true than in Alberta," the CBC's Don Newman explained to viewers on April 3, 1980, back when he was reporting from the westernmost Prairie province.

"People moving from other parts of Canada to take advantage of the booming economy have kept the demand for apartments high -- and now spiralling mortgage interest rates are putting even more pressure on rents."

Several factors were at play in Alberta at that time.

'It's rather sad'

By 1980, high interest rates were having an impact on what people paid to rent apartments. (The National/CBC Archives)

One was that an existing set of rent controls was coming to an end, which meant many tenants were scrambling for affordable digs.

"I think the times have gone by where you looked for something luxurious. It's just whatever you can afford," said Mary Harasim of Edmonton's Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board, whose name was misspelled on screen on The National.

"It's rather sad," she added.

Another co-existing factor was that the rising interest rates were becoming tough for homeowners, who were going to end up having to sell their homes and move to apartments themselves.

Newman said "real estate people" believed interest rates were likely to rise further.

Within a few short years, the apartment market would completely change in Alberta, with renters having lots of choice after a punishing recession left many apartment units vacant in that province.