Regina renters get 77% hikes cancelled

People in a Regina apartment building that were facing rent hikes averaging 77 per cent got some good news Tuesday — the hikes won't go ahead as planned.

People in a Regina apartment building that were facing rent hikes averaging 77 per cent got some good news Tuesday — the hikes won't go ahead as planned.

The building at 2221 Robinson St. is owned by a numbered, Calgary-based company and managed by an affiliated company, Castle Mountain Properties Ltd.

Tenants got notices March 1 that they would be paying the new rates in September.

After upset residents went public with their situation — some were facing increases to around  $1,200 from around $700 — the province's landlords' association got involved and contacted the owner.

The numbered company, 1361321 Alberta, said the original notices were sent out by Regency Property Management, but that company has been "relieved" and no longer provides management services for the building.

The landlord's association, the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Industry Association, says Castle Mountain Properties rescinded the proposed increases and says it will work with the tenants on what happens next.

Meanwhile, Kathy Berner — the owner of Regency Property Management — told CBC News Tuesday afternoon that her company had advised against the large hike but ultimately followed instructions to issue the notices.

"A property management's role is only to follow instructions of owners," Berner said. "And we clearly advised Castle Mountain that the increases would cause very unhappy tenants and lead to vacancies."

Berner confirmed her company was no longer looking after the Robinson Street building, but added she was concerned with how her firm's involvement would be viewed.

"They're throwing us under the bus as the scape-goat," Berner said, about the move to relieve Regency. "We were just following instructions."

The original rent notices became an issue at the provincial legislature, with the Opposition NDP saying they were an example of the Saskatchewan Party government's failed housing policies.

A government official said Tuesday that several of the tenants met with two cabinet ministers to discuss their concerns. 

One person who lives in the building said she is left wondering what will happen to the rent.

"It's a nice reprieve but in my opinion rent will go up eventually," Pat Colpitts said Tuesday. "We have no way of knowing how much or when."

Colpitts said she could afford a $50 per month increase, adding she was anticipating a hike that may force her to move.

"If and when the rent goes up it is probably going to be more than I can afford," she said. "That's my own personal situation."