Landlords struggle to draw tenants

The pool of prospective tenants are drying up in Calgary as a tough job market is forcing some to reduce rents in response – and the situation could worsen as tenants leave the market for good.

“People are having to break leases, which is making it tough for landlords," said Bill Blake, a landlord and member of the Alberta Landlord Association.

"There are always ebbs and flow, and landlords need to be prepared, but it’s a tougher time these days because the job prospects aren’t as readily available. Things are not terrible, but there’s been a definite change.

“More and more landlords are preparing for the reality that their units could be vacant for a month or two before finding someone qualified.”

The comments reflect a difficult situation taking place in Alberta with the effects of low oil prices, which has created a tough situation not just for homeowners, but people’s job prospects as well with many energy companies forced to layoff employees.

The once-hot housing market has cooled down considerably, especially in the last couple of months, with huge layoffs announced from large energy conglomerates such as ConocoPhillips, Nexen Energy and Talisman Energy Inc.

Just last year, Blake said, some were raising renst by 20 to 30 per cent year-over-year.

Now with many tenants breaking their leases and moving out of the province altogether, it’s created a troublesome and uncertain picture for landlords.

Last year, the vacancy rate was 1.4 per cent when the CMHC tabled a rental report in October 2014, while the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,322 during the same period.

The housing corporation predicted a 1.6 per cent vacancy rate in 2015, but that figure could climb to more than two per cent as rental market trends point to a change.

“There are good and bad times, and this is one of those moments," said Blake. "As a landlord, you have to be prepared and plan for this during the good days so that you can outweigh the bad.” 

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