Edmonton landlords woo tenants as vacancy rates rise

Edmonton renters on the move are cashing in on some sweet end-of-summer deals.

Property managers in a rush to rent are offering up some hot deal this summer

Edmonton has finally become a renters market. (CBC)

Edmonton renters on the move are cashing in on sweet end-of-summer deals.

From hundreds of dollars in rent reductions to complimentary flat-screen TVs, a growing number of landlords are offering generous incentives to attract new tenants.

A sluggish economy, combined with a glut of new properties, has forced property managers to sweeten deals, said Mark Hawkins, the owner of the apartment rental website RentFaster.ca.

"There is a lot of inventory that is coming, and there is not a lot of people coming into Alberta these days," Hawkins said during a Tuesday morning interview on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"And that does have the potential to push up vacancy further. That's why some landlords are reacting now, and trying to secure tenants."

Company research, he said, shows average rent in Edmonton and the surrounding area has dropped between 10 and 15 per cent from a five-year high in July 2014.

Vacancy rates have increased steadily since last year, and now range from six to eight per cent, depending on property type. 

Seasonal surge stagnates 

This time of year also puts pressure on property managers, said Hawkins.  

"You are seeing some more incentives than you have in the past, and that's largely because we're getting into the tail end of the busy season for the rental market.

"You see an up-tick in the rental market in the summer months, but it slows down (in the fall)."

"Spring is probably your ideal time. You have the most supply and demand, depending on whether you are a landlord or a renter. In the winters in Alberta, nobody likes to move because it's snowing and miserable."

While some property managers are struggling, renters are cashing in — and upsizing their digs.

"A lot of your renters are switching out properties," Hawkins said.

"The market is active and the renters are really changing in between properties, but we have seen a pretty big decrease in price and we're seeing the vacancy increase."

A high-end headache 

Hawkins said apartment rents have dropped eight to 10 per cent since July 2014.

However, high-end condos, premium apartments, and large rental buildings are being hit hardest, with rents dropping between 15 and 20 per cent during the same period. 

"A lot of people that may have bought these investment condos to rent out, and have a number in mind, will really need to adjust that number.

"And with condos, they all become available at once, you have a lot of competition in your building, and people who want to compete will drop the price. But that's good for renters."